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What is an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan and what is your child entitled to?

A helpful guide to share with parents of students applying for an Education Health and Care Plan.

In this section:

What is an EHC Plan?

The application process

Rejections and appeals process

What does an EHC plan look like?

Technology and EHC plans

What will you learn?

In this short guide, you’ll learn about what an EHC plan is, how to apply and what that means for your child and their education.

Key takeaways

  1. An EHC Plan is designed to support students who need additional support.
  2. EHC Plans were formerly known as a 'statement of special educational needs'.
  3. There are five stages to the application process for an EHC Plan.
  4. You can appeal the final outcome of the needs assessment.
  5. Assistive Technology can be included as a provision to help students EHC Plans learn independently.

What is an Education Health and Care plan (EHC Plan)?

Education Health and Care Plans (EHC Plans) identifies educational, health, and social needs for children and young people up to the age of 25. They are designed to support students who need more support than what is available through special educational needs provision in mainstream education. EHC Plans were formerly known as a 'statement of special educational needs'.

Many students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)will receive support in their school without an EHC Plan. This support comes from within the school and is called SEND Support. Some students’ needs may be significant or complex and require an EHC assessment by your local authority. The outcome of this assessment is an Education Health and Care Plan, or EHC Plan.

How does the application process work for an ECHP?

The EHCP process is the steps from having your child’s SEND identified to getting a plan put into place. The process for applying for an EHCP may vary slightly between local authorities. We’ve outlined the five general stages we’d need to take to apply for an EHCP below, but for step-by-step guidance, it would be helpful to get in touch with your child’s school or the local authority.

1. Identifying

The first step in the process of an Education Health and Care Plan is to identify that your child has additional learning needs. During this time, the school should take steps to identify, assess and try to meet the needs of your child. If the interventions put in place aren’t helping make the expected progress, it’s probably time to consider requesting an EHC plan. An EHC plan can be requested by parents, young people, teachers, or anyone else concerned about the child’s special educational needs. Although the process may vary between local authorities, generally, we’ll need to contact the local authority’s SEN department and ask to start the SEN Statutory Assessment process.

2. Assessing

Once the Local Authority receives a request for an assessment, a SEN Casework Officer will arrange a home visit to discuss the request and talk through what’s involved in the assessment. If a needs assessment is to take place, it usually happens within six of the request. During that time, it’s a good idea to start to create a profile of the young person to help practitioners understand who your child is as an individual. This will help to tailor support specifically. We can include things like what’s important to the young person, and how they’d like to be supported. After the six week period the local authority will have made their decision on whether to issue an EHC Plan. If they decide that an EHC Plan is not required, you can read about how to appeal the decision in this section of our guide.

3. Planning

Once the Local Authority has decided that our young person would benefit from an EHC Plan, this is the stage where planning the support happens. The authority will begin to draft a plan once all evidence and advice has been gathered on support offered to this point, the needs of the individual child, and advice from professionals involved in the education of your child, to this point. Once you receive the draft plan there’s usually a 15 day period to let the authority know whether or not you’re happy with the plan. You’ll be invited to a “next steps” meeting where you’ll chat through feedback on the draft plan, as well as any changes that need to be made. There will also be a conversation about the personal budget at this point. This is a great way to give you, the family, choice and influence over the provisions given to the young person. Once the meeting is complete, a final EHC Plan will be sent to you and all the other professionals involved. The EHC Plan will be reviewed on an annual basis.

4. Actioning the plan

Once the EHC plan is finalised and provisions have been selected, it’s time to put the plan into action. Effective implementation will have the most positive outcomes for the young person involved. There needs to be a close working relationship between parents/caregivers and the school and teachers involved in order to ensure the support provided not only addresses educational needs but also pastoral needs and life skills. Clear lines of communication are also essential for a successful EHC Plan. It’s important for us as parents to know who is responsible for the child’s plan being delivered effectively. Regular check-ins with the child’s school are a great way to check that everything is going well.

5. Reviewing

Regular reviews and check-ins with everyone involved in delivering your child’s EHC Plan is crucial to ensuring provisions are helping to make the expected progress. In the EHC Plan outcomes will have been outlined. It’s important to keep a regular check on these as this will determine how well the interventions or provisions are helping your child. Whilst some outcomes will be tangible and set against educational norms, it’s also important to consider how the young person feels they are making progress. Have the provisions had a positive impact on their confidence and abilities to interact with their peers? Do the interventions help them to work alongside their fellow classmates? Sometimes these goals are equally important as hitting academic milestones.

Why some EHC needs assessments are rejected and how to appeal

If you disagree with the local authority’s decision on a young person’s EHC Plan, you can appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

The decision letter from the local authority will explain your right to mediation and appeal.

It’s important to fully understand why the local authority reached this decision. Continue talking to the local authority about your concerns, or any questions you have about the reasons they gave in reaching their decision. Further information will help you decide whether to appeal and should you decide to, will be key when building your case.

You can appeal if you’re not satisfied with the outcome of the EHC process or if the local authority:

  1. refuse to carry out an EHC assessment or reassessment
  2. refuse to create an EHC plan after carrying out an assessment or reassessment
  3. refuse to change the sections of an existing EHC plan which are about education (sections B, F and I)
  4. decide you or your child does not need an EHC plan any more.
  5. The process varies slightly depending on which region of the UK you live in, so for the most up to date information and advice visit gov.uk.

What does an EHC plan look like?

Although there’s no national standard for an EHC plan, and each local authority may present their plans in different ways they all must include the following 11 sections:

A: The views, interests and aspirations of you and your child.

B: Special educational needs (SEN).

C: Health needs related to SEN.

D: Social care needs related to SEN.

E: Outcomes – how the extra help will benefit your child

F: Special educational provision (support).

G: Health provision.

H: Social care provision.

I: Placement – type and name of school or other institution (blank in the draft plan (link to info about draft plan))

J: Personal budget arrangements.

K: Advice and information – a list of the information gathered during the EHC needs assessment.

This might seem like an overwhelming amount of information. It can help to understand that there are three sections on needs (your child’s challenges) that are matched by corresponding provision (the help your child will get) to meet those needs. In the list above that would mean that:

  • “Section B: Special educational needs” are met by “Section F: special educational provision”.
  • “Section C: Health care needs” are met by “Section G: health care provision”.
  • “Section D: Social care needs” are met by “Section H: social care provision”.

Where does assistive technology fit into an EHC Plan?

The provisions laid out in an EHC plan may include some forms of assistive technology (AT). It’s important to keep in mind that AT’s role is to assist a student’s learning. It doesn’t replace good teaching, but it can be used in addition to well-designed instruction. AT has been proven to help students with their self-confidence, and independent study. It’s also been shown to help students to:

  1. Work more quickly and more accurately
  2. Navigate classroom routines
  3. Organize their timetables
  4. Work on areas of weakness. For example, a student has reading issues but has good listening skills, text-to-speech tools might be useful.

Keep reading

Selecting the right tools for students in special education

Learn about tools to support your students in special education.

Special education

Understand what special education is and ways we can help our students with special educational needs.

Exam access arrangements

Discover what access arrangements for exams are, which students qualify and how to apply.