Education, health and care plans

What's an EHC Plan?

Education, health and care plans are usually called EHC Plans, or sometimes EHCPs.

EHC Plans help children and young people improve their achievement at nursery, school, or college. They can be used from the age of 0 to 25 and help them progress through school and college, achieving as well as they can and preparing them for adulthood.

Children or young people who need to be educated in a specialist nursery, school or college must have an EHC Plan. 

If a child or young person in a mainstream nursery, school or college needs a high level of support to make progress similar to the children around them, they will need an EHC Plan.

What's an EHC assessment?

An EHC assessment can be started by a parent or carer asking for one. An education, health or social care professional can also start one if the parent agrees. 

If parents, carers or professionals think an assessment is needed for someone old enough, and able enough, to make decisions about their own lives, the young person should also agree.

Parents, carers and young people who think an EHC assessment is needed should talk to the SENDCO (special educational needs/disabilities coordinator - also called SENCOs in some places) at the nursery, school or college. SENDCOs organise all the support, advice and services for children and young people who have special educational needs and disabilities. 

Applications for an EHC assessment can also be made online via the EHC HUB, but it is best to talk to the people working with the child or young person, or the SEND team, first. 

What happens when an assessment is requested?

The SEND team ask the nursery, school or college to give them information that will help them decide whether an assessment should go ahead. 

We have six weeks to study the information, make a decision and tell the parent, carer or young person what we’ve decided. 

If we decide to do an assessment, the child or young person and their family will be involved in the whole process.

What happens if the decision is no? 

We'll write to you to and tell you why we think it isn’t needed. 

We'll offer to meet you to talk about the decision and how we think the child or young person could be supported. We’ll also talk to the school, nursery or college about the support we think is needed. 

If we think you haven’t been listened to, we might arrange a meeting in the nursery, school or college. If the parent, carer or young person is unhappy with the decision we make, they can appeal.

How do an EHC assessment work?

If an assessment is started, an EHC coordinator who works in the SEND team will manage the assessment from start to finish. They will collect all the information we need to decide if the child or young person needs an EHC plan.

We have 14 weeks to decide whether an EHC Plan is needed for that child or young person. Occasionally it might take longer. If that happens we should let everyone involved know why.

If an EHC plan is going to be made, we will send the parent, carer and young person a draft copy of the plan. They have 15 days to tell us what they think about the plan and say what nursery, school or college provider they would like. 

When we have found the right place, we will issue the final EHC plan. The whole process should not take longer than 20 weeks.

If you want more detail about how an assessment works, who is involved and how decisions are made, you can read these documents

What if the SEND team decide an EHC plan isn’t needed?

We’ll write to you to explain why we made that decision and tell how you can appeal.

What’s an annual review?

Every year EHC plans are checked to make sure they are up to date. Children under 5, should have their plan reviewed every six months.

Review look at whether the child or young person’s needs have changed. Maybe they don’t need a plan anymore. Maybe new needs have appeared. If needs have changed, the support they need might need to change.

Whether needs and support have changed or not, new goals should be set for the coming year. Sometimes, longer-term goals will need to be changed as well.

Who comes to a review?

Reviews normally happen at a school or college. It can happen somewhere else if that makes it easier, or if the child or young person isn’t in school or college.

The school invite parents/carers, someone from the SEND team, from health and social care teams and other professionals who work with the child or young person.

Not everyone always comes to the review meetings, but everyone who is helping make the plan work should be there or send a report.

What happens next?

The school’s SENDCo, or someone else who knows all about the plan, has 2 weeks to send a report of the meeting to the SEND team and everyone else involved.

The report should explain any changes people at the meeting agreed should be made. If not everyone agreed, it should say why.

We then have four weeks to decide whether to keep the EHC plan as it is, make changes or end the plan. We will write to the parent/carers and the school or college to let them know what we’ve decided.

Here are some of the documents used to prepare for an annual review: