The Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) sets out your child’s education needs in terms of what support they require and are entitled to. The EHCP was introduced in 2014, following the Children and Families Act 2014 coming into effect on 1st September 2014.
Not every child with additional needs will be given or require an Education Health and Care Plan. Before an agreement is reached that an EHC Plan is necessary an Education, Health and Care needs assessment must take place to identify the needs of the individual.
An EHC needs assessment is a detailed look at the special educational needs (SEN) of a child or young person and the support he or she may need in order to learn.
The needs assessment brings together information about:
- what your child can and cannot do
- the special help they need.
It includes information from:
- you (if you are a child or young person)
- your child (if you are a parent or carer)
- your child’s early years setting or school
- other professionals who work with or support your child.
How to request one
In order to get an EHCP, either the child’s parents/carers or professionals working with the family will need to write to the local authority to request an EHC assessment. The LA’s website should have information on how you can make this request, but if you need help putting it together, your child’s school/ early years SENCO should be able to help you.
The following people have the right to ask a local authority to conduct an education, health and care needs assessment:
- A child or young person’s parent
- A young person aged 16 – 24
- A person acting on behalf of a school or post-16 institution (with the knowledge and agreement of the parent or young person where possible)
It is a good idea to include existing reports and evidence or examples that support your concerns and reason for the request, these should also include your opinions and observations and those of your child which can be added to as the process continues.
What happens next
Following receipt of your request, the local authority has up to six weeks to decide whether to make a needs assessment. During this time it may ask you, the school and other professionals for information. Sometimes information and advice are already available because other professionals have been working with your child, otherwise, new advice will need to be requested.
During the first six weeks after the application, the local authority will look at all the information and then tell you whether it has decided to go ahead with the EHC needs assessment OR that an EHC needs assessment is not necessary.
If the local authority believes an EHC needs assessment is not necessary, they must tell you why and provide you with information about:
- your right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal and the time limit for appealing
- independent disagreement resolution and mediation EHC needs assessment for children in early years settings or at school.
- how to get further information, advice or support.
An EHC assessment may then identify that an EHCP is needed.
What is an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)?
The EHCP is a document which sets out the education, health and social care needs your child or young person has and the support that is necessary to cater to those needs. All the needs described within the EHCP must result from special educational needs (SEN). An EHCP should specify the following for your child:
- the child’s SEN (Special Educational Needs)
- the outcomes sought for the child
- special educational provision required by the child
- any health care provision reasonably required by the child’s learning difficulties and disabilities which result in SEN
- any social care provision reasonably required by the child’s learning difficulties and disabilities which result in SEN
- for under 18s – any social care provision that must be made by the LA, and
- the plan may also specify other health care and social care provision reasonably required by the child.
The EHCP is a legally binding document. It is binding on local authorities and your local health services (clinical commissioning groups).
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice (2015) provides guidance but does not say exactly what the EHCP should look like. This means that every local authority may prepare the document so that it looks different, however, the document should be separated into the following sections:
- A: views, interests and aspirations of the child (and the child’s parents on their behalf)
- B: child’s Special Educational Needs (SEN)
- C: child’s healthcare needs which relate to their SEN
- D: child’s social care needs which relate to their SEN
- E: the outcomes sought for the child – how the extra help will benefit your child
- F: the SEN provision (support) required by the child
- G: any health care provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties or disabilities which result in the child having SEN
- H1: any social care provision which must be made for the child under Section 2 of the CSDPA 1970
- H2: any other social care provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties or disabilities which result in the child having SEN
- I: name of the school, and type of school or institution
- J: personal budget arrangements
- K: information and advice in appendices (a list of the information gathered during the EHC needs assessment)
Outcomes set out the goals that the EHCP seeks to achieve. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
The way outcomes are set is important, because if they are reached, it can be a trigger for the child’s EHCP to stop. As such outcomes should seek to be as optimistic, and long-term as possible, as long as they remain achievable and realistic.
The local authority must review the EHC plan at least once every 12 months. This must be done in partnership with you and your child or the young person and must take account of your views, wishes and feelings.
The local authority must decide within four weeks of the review meeting to either:
- keep the EHCP as it currently is
- amend the EHCP
- or end the plan
You have a right of appeal if the local authority proposes to cease the EHC plan.
If you are struggling to find answers or information regarding your specific needs, please get in touch via our Ask Our Experts section. We will speak to experts on your behalf and find the answers.