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  • Writer's pictureCavendish Education

What is an EHCP?

We asked Nuala Dalton, SENCo at Burlington House School, London, to outline the purpose of a child having an EHCP, what it might consist of and how to begin the process of obtaining one.

What is an EHCP?

An Education, Health and Care plan (“EHC plan” or EHCP) is a legal document which describes a child or young person's special educational needs, the support they need, and the outcomes they would like to achieve. The plan is issued by a local education authority.

What is their purpose?

The purpose of an EHCP is: to make special educational provision to the meet the special educational needs of the child or young person; so as to secure the best possible outcomes for them across education, health and social care, and to prepare them for adulthood.

I’ve also heard of IEPs. How do they differ?

An IEP, or Individual Education Plan, is a document that helps teaching staff to plan for your child. It should include strategies to help them learn and be used to review their progress. The IEP should be guided by your child’s profile, records, assessments, their strengths and statement of SEN, if they have one. It should help your child to access and engage with the curriculum.

IEPs are different for each child or young person and should set out what should be taught, how it should be taught and how often.

How will it help my child having an EHCP?

By law, all mainstream state nurseries and schools must provide some support for special educational needs. For your child to get an EHCP, you will need to show that:

  • their additional needs are holding them back in nursery, school or college, and

  • the educational setting is unable to provide enough support to meet those needs.

The local authority will assess whether an EHC plan is the right solution.

A school won’t always need an EHCP to give your child the support they need. You may be able to work with them to create an IEP for your child. This is often done before applying for an EHCP. If your child’s needs are then met with an IEP, you may not need an EHCP.

Parents can apply for an EHC assessment for a child. Young people between 16 and 25 years can apply for an assessment themselves if they would like to.

How long can my child receive an EHCP for?

Children and young people can get an EHC plan to outline their needs up to the age of 25 years.

Can you use an EHCP in both the independent and state sector?

Yes. Independent schools must adhere to the SEND Code of Practice.

How do I start the process of getting my child an EHCP?

Any parent can request an EHC needs assessment (EHCNA) for their child, but a doctor, health visitor, school staff member or nursery workers can also request it. Once you've made your request to the Local Authority, they have six weeks to decide whether or not to carry out an EHC assessment. The LA may ask you for school or nursery reports, doctors’ assessments and your own views on your child’s needs in writing. You’ll usually find out within 16 weeks whether or not an EHC plan is going to be agreed for your child.

If an EHC plan is agreed, your LA will create a draft plan and send you a copy. You have 15 days to comment, including putting in a request for your child to go to a specialist school or specialist college. Your local authority has 20 weeks from the date of the assessment to give you the final EHC plan.

Do I have to fill in the EHCP?

To get an educational, health and care (EHC) needs assessment, you need to apply to your local authority. Your local authority must consider your application, even when your child’s school does not support you. You do not need a report from an educational psychologist, but it can help. Getting an EHC assessment can be easier if your school agrees that your child needs one. The local authority will consult you as well as your child’s school and any other relevant professionals.

What are the sections?

  • Section A: the views, interests and aspirations of the child and his parents or the young person;

  • Section B: the child or young person’s special educational needs (“SEN”);

  • Section C: health care needs which relate to their SEN;

  • Section D: social care needs which relate to their SEN or to a disability ;

  • Section E: the outcomes sought for the child or young person;

  • Section F: the special educational provision required to meet their SEN;

  • Section G: any health care provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties or disabilities which result in the child or young person having SEN;

  • Section H: any social care provision required from social services under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, and/or reasonably required by the learning difficulties or disabilities which result in the child or young person having SEN;

  • Section I: the name of the school or other institution to be attended by the child or young person, and the type of that institution (or just the type if no specific institution is named);

  • Section J: details of any direct payment which will be made;

  • Section K: copies of all of the advice and information obtained as part of the EHC needs assessment.

I have heard of inadequate plans being written. What does a good EHCP look like and how do I ensure my child gets one?

For comprehensive advice, written specially to support parents and carers with this process, visit:



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