Education, health and care (EHC) plans

EHC plans set out a child or young person's special educational, health and social needs and how those needs should be met. Find out what an assessment involves and how to request one.

An education, health and care plan is a legal document. It sets out:

  • a child or young person's special educational, health and social needs
  • how those needs should be met

It sets outcomes that the child or young person wants to achieve in life.

They are regularly reviewed to make sure the support your child receives is working for them.

When an EHC plan can help

For most children, all schools have resources that can support them. The school can use an SEND support plan to help make a long-term plan of action for your child. For more on the SEND support plan, go to SEND support in schools, colleges and nurseries.

In some cases, this is not enough.

EHC plans are for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more help than is available through special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) support. You do not need a medical diagnosis to apply for an EHC plan.

These plans are for when you have tried all other options and still need more help. An EHC plan can result in extra funding and support.

Consider requesting an education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment if your child:

  • has high support needs
  • a life-long disability
  • is receiving support from a wide range of services
  • is not making progress even though the support is increasing in type and amount

Who can request an assessment

You can request an EHC needs assessment if you are:

  • a parent, carer or foster parent
  • the child’s school or nursery
  • a health professional or other person involved with the child
  • a young person aged 16 or over and still in education

Any request not made by a parent or carer must have their full knowledge and agreement. Parents and carers must fill in the parental EHC assessment request form.

It can help to speak to the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) at your child's school or nursery and work on the application together.

Schools and nurseries can request an EHC needs assessment using the educational setting EHC assessment request form.

Once we receive a request for an EHC needs assessment, we have up to 6 weeks to decide whether to carry out an assessment.

Children younger than 2 years old

It is not always appropriate to carry out an EHC needs assessment for children who are younger than 2 years old. However, we will consider the most appropriate ways forward and discuss these with parents, carers and professionals as needed.

If we do decide not to assess a child’s needs, we'll explain the reasons why and whether an appeal can be made.

How the assessment works

If we agree your child's needs should be assessed, we will work with our partners in education, health and social care to complete this within 20 weeks. We'll give you a named key worker who will arrange a meeting with you.

As part of the assessment, the SEND service will also contact:

  • teachers or staff at the child's nursery, school or college
  • an educational psychologist
  • specialist teachers from the specialist teaching and learning service if they are already involved
  • a paediatrician (or GP if your child is over 18)
  • a speech and language therapist, an occupational therapist or a physical therapist, if already involved
  • family services (or adult social care if your child is over 18)
  • anyone else we need advice from, or that you think we should seek information from

This information will help us see how your child’s needs affect their access to learning across a range of areas.

Involving you and your child

You and your child should be at the centre of the assessment process.

We'll make sure you have time to prepare for meetings and give you time to share your views. You can come to any examinations or assessments your child needs.

If we decide not to issue an EHC plan

We'll tell you within 16 weeks of starting the EHC assessment if we decide not to issue a plan for your child.

We'll invite you to a meeting to discuss the decision and possible ways forward. This is called a Next Steps meeting. Even if your child doesn’t need an EHC plan there will still be support available through the Local Offer.

If you disagree with our decision, you have 2 months to appeal to an SEND tribunal. We will explain how you can appeal and as part of this process, you will be given required to seek information about mediation.

If we agree to issue an EHC plan

We will issue an EHC plan if the EHC needs assessment shows that the special educational needs provision required for your child, is over and above what is available in the Local Offer. 

The plan will set out the long-term outcomes and the help that will be provided.

We will explain the help that is available and involve you in decisions about how funding is used where possible. In some cases, you may be able to receive a personal budget to arrange the provision yourself. We'll talk to you about your options.

You and your child should be central to developing the plan and involved at every stage. We'll meet with you to discuss the plan. We may also invite your child and any professionals who were involved in the assessment.

You'll be able to comment on the draft plan before we issue the final one.

Reviewing the EHC plan

We review your child's plan every year (every 3 to 6 months if your child is under 5 years old) in a meeting that you and your child can come to.

In the meeting we:

  • review how the support your child has received has helped them to improve their learning outcomes and make progress in other areas
  • see if your child's needs have changed in any way
  • review the outcomes and see if they need to be changed
  • plan for the next period up to the next review

Your child's headteacher will send us the information from the meeting. We will use this to update the EHC plan.

Once the plan has been updated, we will send you the revised draft plan for your comments.

Find out more about annual reviews for education, health and care plans.

Making changes to the EHC plan

We will always ask for your views before changing your child's plan. You can appeal to the tribunal if you disagree with our changes.

Resources to download

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