Explaining Education Health Care Plans (EHCPs)


Does your child have a learning difficulty and/or disability, and their school is unable to provide the help and support that they need?

If yes, then you may be considering making a request to your Local Authority for an Education Health Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA).

What is an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP)?

An EHCP is the provision made for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through special educational needs support.

EHCPs identify educational, health and social needs and set out the additional support to meet those needs.

EHCPs are for children and young people whose special educational needs require more help than would normally be provided in a mainstream education setting (a college, school, nursery). Although the plan can include health or social care needs, your child will not get a plan if they only have health or social care needs that do not affect their education.

Be aware that

Lots of parents have children who have SEND needs, but they do not all require EHCPs.

An ECHP is a higher level of support than SEND Support for children with special educational needs, and not all children will require or be entitled to one.

In collaboration with your child’s school, you should consider whether your child’s special educational needs can be met under SEND Support or whether they need an EHCP.

What does an EHCP include?

There is no national standard format for the EHC plan. However, it must have certain sections that are clearly labelled.

The different sections may, at first seem confusing, but the sections are:

(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.

How long do EHCPs stay in place?

The plan will remain in place until your child leaves education, or the local authority decides that your child no longer needs the plan to help them in their education. If you move to another local authority the plan will be transferred.

When should a local authority consider carrying out an Education Health Care Needs Assessment (ENCNA)?

If a local authority (LA) is requested to carry out an EHCNA by a parent or carer, the LA must consider whether the child has or may have special educational needs (SEND) and whether they may need special educational provision to be made through an EHC plan (EHCP).

If the answer to both of these questions is yes, the LA must carry out an EHCNA. This test is set out in law {section 36(8)} of the Children and Families Act 2014. This means that these are the only questions the LA should be asking when considering whether or not to carry out an EHCNA.

The SEN and Disability Code of Practice at paragraph 9.14 the Code states that “the local authority should consider whether there is evidence that despite the early years provider, school or post-16 institution having taken relevant and purposeful action to identify, assess and the special educational needs of the child or young person, the child or young person has not made expected progress.”

The LA should pay particular attention to:

evidence of the child’s academic progress or developmental milestones and rate of progress;

information about the nature, extent and context of the child’s SEND;

evidence of action already taken by school; evidence that where progress has been made, it has only been as a result of much additional intervention and support over and above that which is usually provided;

evidence of the child’s physical, social, emotional and mental health needs, drawing on relevant evidence from clinicians and other health professionals and what has been done to meet these needs by other agencies/professionals.

Top Tips

  • Working in partnership with your child’s teachers, and the other professionals to support your child is going to be vital when considering making the application
  • Ask to meet with the SENDCo along with other relevant staff to discuss your worries and hopes before writing to the LA. You will need to work together to ensure that the school and other professionals too, have strong supporting evidence to help make a strong case for the assessment.
  • The school will, for example, need to provide evidence of action that they have already taken to support your child, and demonstrate that where progress has been made, it has been the result of additional support which is beyond that which is usually provided.
  • Should you decide to proceed with the application, once you have liaised with the professionals supporting your child, you should make a written request to the LA and keep a copy of your letter and any other correspondence. Your letter should set out why you believe your child has or may have special educational needs, and why you believe they may need special educational provision to be made through an EHC Plan.
  • Note that for children under 16, you as the parent may make the request. This includes children from age 0 to 5, where parents should make a request if they believe that the child will need extra help at nursery or when they start school. In the case of a young person (over 16 and up to 25), they can make the request themselves. If the young person is not able to understand, remember or communicate decisions about the educational support they need, it is important to be aware that you can make the request on a young person’s behalf.
  • Remember that the LA must reply within six weeks (this is required by regulation 4(1) of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014). They should always reply to you as a parent even where the request was made by the school or college.
  • Be aware that if the LA agrees to carry out an assessment, various people will need to be approached for advice and this may include, school representatives, your child’s paediatrician and associated therapists such as occupational and speech and language therapists, the LA Educational Psychologist and of course you as the parent/carer.
  • You can also include any advice/reports you have commissioned from your psychologist, paediatrician, therapist, etc. So do make sure that you have all of your child’s reports ready to access
  • If the LA refuses to carry out an assessment, you have the right to appeal against this decision.
  • For more information parents can go to their local SENDIASServices (formally known as Parent Partnership Services) offer information, advice and support for parents/carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). There is a SENDIAS Service in every local authority. Otherwise, they can also seek help and support from IPSEA, the  Independent Provider of Special Education Advice (www.ipsea.org.uk) or Coram Children’s Legal Centre (www.childrenslegalcentre.com).

Dr Michael Hymans. AFBPsS., C.Psychol.,
HCPC Registered; Associate Fellow of British Psychological Society; Chartered Psychologist; Honorary Research Associate, UCL Department of Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology.

Image Credit: Artwork by Ria Mishaal