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Education, Health & Care Plans (EHCP)

Everything Education, Health & Care Plans


EHC Plans assessment timescales

There are a number of timescales – called statutory timescales – set out in the SEN Code of Practice which local authorities and other organisations must adhere to. From the point when an assessment is requested until the final EHC plan is issued, the whole process must take no more than 20 weeks (there are some exemptions to this such as school holiday dates – see the Code of Practice for these).

The EHC assessment and preparation of the plan must be completed as soon as possible. If you agree, it may be possible to carry out steps much more quickly than the statutory timescales, but you should not be put under pressure to agree things more quickly than you feel comfortable with.

Local authorities must tell you whether they will carry out an EHC needs assessment within six weeks from when they receive a request for one. When Local Authorities request information from others such as Therapists or Doctors as part of the assessment process, they must respond within a maximum of six weeks from the date of the request.

Following an assessment, if a Local Authority decides not to issue an EHC plan, they must inform you within a maximum of 16 weeks from the date of the request for an EHC needs assessment. They should also give reasons for this decision and advice for what steps to take next.
If a draft EHC plan is issued, you must be given at least 15 days to give your views on this and say what School or setting you would like your child or young person to attend.

The final EHC plan must be issued within a 20-week overall time limit.

You can view an image below of the timescale for the EHC Assessment Process


What is an EHC needs assessment?

An EHC needs assessment is a comprehensive assessment, in order to find out exactly what your child or young person’s special educational needs are and the special help they might need.

Schools are often able to meet the needs of children through SEN support but sometimes a child or young person needs a more intensive level of specialist help that cannot be met from the resources available to schools and other settings to provide SEN support.

In these circumstances, you or your child’s School or other setting could consider asking your Local Authority for an EHC needs assessment for your child. This assessment may lead to your child getting an EHC plan. Some children and young people will have needs that clearly require an EHC needs assessment and plan and once the Local Authority is aware of them it should start this process without delay.

For further information about what happens in an EHC Assessment, you can visit IPSEA's website on the link below:


Requesting an EHC Needs Assessment

You can ask your Local Authority to carry out an Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment  (EHCNA) if you think your child needs an EHC plan. A Young Person can request an assessment themselves if they’re aged 16 to 25. A request can also be made by anyone else who thinks an assessment may be necessary, including Doctors, Health visitors, Teachers and Parents/Carers.

If the Local Authority receives a request from a parent/carer, you may be asked for any reports from your child’s School, nursery or childminder, Doctors assessments of your child and /or a letter from you about your child’s needs.

The Local Authority will contact the School following your request for additional information. 

If you wish to make a parental request for an Education Health & Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA), please click the link below:


For support on the EHC Hub, you can view our SENDIASS guide by clicking on the following:


Deciding whether an EHC Needs Assessment is needed

From your reqeust, the local authority will take information provided from yourself and School and take this to the SEN Panel. This panel will decide whether an Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment should be carried out. 

If the Local Authority say no to an assessment

If the Local Authority decide an EHC Needs Assessment is not needed, they must tell you within 6 weeks of receiving your request The Local Authority must then provide you with your appeal rights which will be explained in the letter informing you of their decision. 


If the Local Authority say yes to an assessment

If the local authority decides an EHC Needs Assessment is needed, they must work closely with you to make sure they take full account of your views, wishes and feelings.

You will be required to use the EHC Hub to add your views, wishes and feelings, you can read our guide on the following:


The Local Authority will proceed to gather information from Education, Health & Social Care Professionals to find out what support is needed. 


What happens after an EHC Needs Assessment?

The Local Authority will use the information gathered from professionals and make it's decision whether or not to issue a draft Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP).

If the Local Authority says no to an EHCP

If the Local Authority decide not to issue a draft EHCP, you can appeal this decision. The local authority must provide you with your appeal rights which will be explained in the letter informing you of their decision. 

The Local Authority may ask the School to arrange a meeting to discuss how to support your child without the use of an EHCP. In these meetings usually a member of the Children & Adults with Disabilities Team attend to provide suggestions. 


If the Local Authority agrees to issue an EHCP

Your request will proceed to the Draft EHCP stage.  For support on this, please look on the below box. 



Preparing a Draft EHC Plan

You will be given 15 days from the date on the letter to comment on the draft plan which you can view on the EHC Hub. You can ask for a  telephone call to discuss the draft with your Case Officer (their name should be on the letter).

You will also be required to request a specific School, or other setting, you want your child to attend. This could be a mainstream School or Special School. 

It's important to note that the draft EHCP will not have a School named within Section I. 

Your local authority has 20 weeks from the request for the EHC needs assessment to issue the final plan to you.

For support on the EHC Hub you can view our guide by clicking on the following link:

PDF Document - Reviewing a Draft EHCP  


Personal budgets

You may be able to get a personal budget for your child if they have an EHCP or have been told they need one. It allows you to have a say in how to spend the money on support for your child. There are three ways you can use your personal budget. You can have:

  • Direct payments made into your account (you buy and manage services yourself)
  • Notional Arrangements - An arrangement with your local authority or school where they hold the money for you but you still decide how to spend it
  • Third-party arrangements – you choose someone else to manage the money for you

You can have a combination of all three. 


What can a personal budget be used for? 

A Personal Budget can be used only on the support set out in an EHC plan. This can include funding for the special educational, health and social care support that will help to achieve the outcomes set out in the Plan. 

A Personal Budget does not cover payment for a place at the School or College, or the general provision for children or young people, including those who need SEN Support. A Personal Budget does include any top up funding (known as Element 3 funding) that is for provision specified in an EHC plan. It can also include support that is managed by the School or College – but only if the Headteacher or Principal agree.


How much will I get? 

How much you get will depend on what has been set out in the EHC plan. There is no set amount. This is assessed on a case by case scenario. 
If the local authority has agreed to make a Direct Payment it must be enough to pay for the service or services specified in the EHC plan.


What is the difference between Personal Budget & Direct Payment?

A Personal Budget shows you what money there is to make some of the provision specified in an EHC plan, and who provides it. The parent or young person does not actually manage the funds directly.

With a Direct Payment the parent or young person is given the money for some services and manages the funds themselves. The parent or young person is responsible for buying the service and paying for it.

A Personal Budget can include a Direct Payment if it is agreed that this is the best way to manage part of the Personal Budget. Direct payments can be used for special educational provision only if the school or college agree. 


For further information on Personal Budgets, you can visit:

The final EHC Plan

If you suggest any changes to the draft EHC plan and these are agreed by the Local Authority; the draft plan should be amended and issued as the final EHC plan as quickly as possible. The Local Authority must not make any other changes apart from incorporating your agreed amendments and naming the placement – if the local authority wishes to make other changes it must re-issue the draft EHC plan to you.

The final EHC plan should be signed and dated by the Local Authority Officer responsible for signing off the final plan.
Where you have suggested changes which are not agreed, the Local Authority may still proceed to issue the final EHC plan. If this happens, the Local Authority must notify you of your right to appeal to the Tribunal and the time limit for doing so, of the requirement for you to consider mediation should you wish to appeal, and the availability of information, advice and support and disagreement resolution services.

The Local Authority should also notify you how you can appeal the health and social care provision in the EHC plan.
As well as the child’s parent or the young person, the final EHCP must also be issued to the governing body, proprietor or Principal of any School, College or other institution named in the EHC plan, and to the relevant CCG (or where relevant, NHS England).
Where a nursery, school or college is named in an EHC plan, they must admit the child or young person. The Headteacher or Principal of the School, College or other institution named in the EHC plan should ensure those teaching or working with your child or young person are aware of their needs and have arrangements in place to meet them. Institutions should also ensure Teachers and Lecturers monitor and review your child or young person’s progress during the course of a year.

Once an EHC plan has been finalised, your Local Authority has to ensure the SEN support in section F of the plan is provided, and the health service has to ensure the health support in section G is provided.

Your Local Authority has to review your child’s EHC plan at least every 12 months. That review has to include working with you and your child and asking you what you think and what you want to happen, and a meeting which you must be invited to.

You can read the SEND Code of Practice (Page 161, 9.62 - Content of EHC Plans) which you can find on the following link: 


Disagreeing with a decision

You can challenge your local authority about any of the below reasons:
• their decision to not carry out an assessment
• their decision to not create an EHC plan
• the special educational support in the EHC plan
• the school named in the EHC plan (Section I)


What are my appeal rights?

Mediation is an informal, confidential and voluntary process which involves an independent facilitator (the mediator) helping those in dispute to reach agreements. You can go to Mediation once you receive your letter giving you the right of appeal. 

For further information on what is involved in Mediation, you can visit KIDS SEND Mediation on the following link: 


Firstly, you must obtain a Mediation Certificate. If you don't want to go to Mediation and want to appeal straight to the SEND Tribunal, you still must contact the mediation service to obtain a certificate to show you have considered mediation. 

You don't go to Mediation if you are appealing Section I ONLY of the EHCP and are not required to obtain a Mediation Certificate for this type of appeal. 

If you can’t resolve the problem with your local authority at mediation (should you decide to go), you can appeal to the SEND Tribunal. 

Please do note, that you have 2 months from the decision letter and 1 month from the mediation certificate (once obtained from the Mediation Service). 

  • If you are appealing a refusal to assess - you must complete SENDForm35a
  • If you are appealing anything else - you must used SENDForm35

To access these forms, please click on the following link: 

What should be in an EHCP

The SEND Code of Practice sets out some key requirements and principles about EHCPs.
Decisions about the content should be made openly and collaboratively with parents, children and young people:

  • EHCPs should positively describe achievements
  • EHCPs should be clear, concise, understandable and accessible
  • EHCPs must specify the outcomes sought for a child or young person
  • EHCPs should show how education, health and care provision should be co-ordinated to best achieve agreed outcomes
  • EHCPs should consider how best to achieve outcomes and an account must be taken of any innovative or alternative ways to receive support by the young person or parent
  • EHCPs should describe how family and community support can help in achieving agreed outcomes 
  • EHCPs should be forward looking and anticipate and plan for important transition points in a child or young person’s life, including transition into adult life
  • EHCPs should have a review date 

The format of an EHCP will be agreed locally, so you may find they look slightly different, county to county. However, as a statutory minimum, EHCPs must include the following sections, which must be separately labelled from each other using the letters below.

Section A – The views wishes and aspirations of the child and their parents, or of the young person
Section B – The child or young person’s Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND)
Section C – The child or young person’s Health Needs relating to their SEND 
Section D – The child or young person’s Social Care Needs relating to their SEND
Section E – The outcomes sought for the child or young person
Section F – Special Educational help or provision required to address the child or young person’s needs (Provision must be specified and quantified)
Section G – The Health provision required by the learning difficulties which result in the child or young person having SEN
Section H1 – The Special Social Care Services that must be provided
Section H2 – Any other Social Care provision reasonably required 
Section I – The name and type of school that the child should go to
Section J – How a personal budget (if requested) will be used
Section K – Supplementary information gathered during the EHC Needs Assessment maintaining provision in the EHC plan

Educational: Where an EHC plan is maintained for a child or young person the Local Authority must secure the special educational provision specified in the plan. If a Local Authority names an Independent School or College in the plan it must also meet the costs of the fees, including any boarding where relevant.

Social Care: For the social care provision specified in the plan, existing duties on social care services to assess and provide for the needs of disabled children and young people under the Children Act 1989 continue to apply. Where the Local Authority decides it is necessary to make provision for a disabled child or young person under 18 pursuant to Section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Person Act (CSDPA) 1970, it must secure that provision. Where the young person is over 18, the care element of the EHC plan will usually be provided by adult services.

Health: For health care provision specified in the EHC plan, the CCG (or where relevant NHS England) must ensure that it is made available to the child or young person.


Annual Reviews

The Annual Review is a statutory process where the Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP) is reviewed on a yearly basis. The purpose of this is to ensure the plan remains up-to-date and to see if the support being provided needs to be changed. 

For further information, you can visit IPSEA's website by clicking on the link below 


What if I am concerned about my child's progress with the EHC Plan? 

If you are concerned about your child's progress or you have any concerns around the Education, Health & Care Plan and you aren't near the review date, you can firstly speak with the SENCo. If after your discussion, you still remain concerned, you can request an Early Interim Review of the Education Heath & Care Plan (EHCP). 

You can find more information on the following link:


Also, IPSEA has a wide range of Model Letters you can access to support you with raising any concerns to the Local Authority. 

Please click on the following link to access these:


Here you can find useful guides to support you with using the EHC Hub.  Please click on the most relevant guide for you.