An Education, Health and Care plan (EHC plan) describes your child's special educational needs (SEN) and the help they will get to meet them. An EHC plan also includes any health and care provision that is needed. It is a legal document written by the local authority and is intended to ensure that children and young people with an EHC plan receive the support they need.
EHC plans replaced Statements of Special Educational Need and Section 139 Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDA) on 1 September 2014.
EHC plans are for children and young people who need more support than their school or other setting can provide. The plans can start from a child's birth and continue into further education and training.
The SEND Code of Practice (section 9.2) says:
The purpose of an EHC plan is to make special educational provision to meet the special educational needs of the child or young person, to secure the best possible outcomes for them across education, health and social care and, as they get older, prepare them for adulthood.
Who needs an EHC plan?
EHC plans are for children and young people who have a special educational need or disability that cannot be met by the support that is available at their school or college.
Most children and young people with special educational needs will have help given to them without the need for an EHC Plan. This is called SEN support.
The purpose of SEN support is to help children achieve the outcomes or learning objectives that have been set for them.
Some children and young people may not make the progress expected of them even with this help. When this happens the Local Authority carry out an EHC needs assessment. A few children and young people have such significant difficulties needs that an EHC needs assessment should not be delayed.
You or your child's school can ask the local authority to make an EHC needs assessment. When this assessment is finished the local authority must decide whether to issue an EHC plan.
The SEND Code of Practice (section 9.14) says:
In considering whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary, 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 meet the special educational needs of the child or young person, the child or young person has not made expected progress.
The law states that if your child has or may have special needs and may need provision to be made via an EHC plan, the local authority must conduct an EHC needs assessment. You do not have to prove that an EHC plan is definitely necessary to obtain an assessment, you just have to show it may be necessary. If you think your child needs more help than the school can provide, you can ask for an assessment.
Children and young people who had a Statement of Special Educational Need should now have transferred to an EHC plan.
What does an EHC plan include?
The SEND Code of Practice says that EHC plans should:
- be based on decisions made openly, and with parents, children and young people
- describe what the child or young person can do
- be clear, concise, understandable and accessible
- consider how best to achieve the outcomes for the child or young person. They must take into account the evidence from the EHC needs assessment
- specify clear outcomes
- consider alternative ways of providing support if a parent or young person wishes it. This could include having a Personal Budget
- show how education, health and care provision will be coordinated
- be forward looking - for example, anticipating, planning and commissioning for important transition points in a child or young person's life
- describe how informal support as well as formal support from statutory agencies can help in achieving agreed outcomes
- have a review date.
There is a full list of principles and requirements in the SEND Code of Practice section 9.61.
Every EHC plan must include at least 12 sections, but each local authority can decide how to set these out.
The sections are:
A: The views, interests and aspirations of you and your child or the young person.
B: Your child's or young person's special educational needs.
C: Health needs related to their SEN or to a disability.
D: Social care needs related to their SEN or to a disability.
E: Planned outcomes for your child or the young person.
F: Special educational provision. Provision must be specified for each and every need shown in section B.
G: Any health provision required that is related to their SEN or to a disability.
H1: Any social care provision that must be made for your child or young person under 18.
H2: Any other social care provision required that is related to their SEN or to a disability.
I: The name and type of the school, maintained nursery school, post-16 institution or other institution to be attended.
J: Details of how any personal budget will support particular outcomes and the provision it will be used for.
K: The advice and information gathered during the EHC needs assessment.
Where the child or young person is in or beyond year 9, the EHC plan must also include the provision required by your child or young person to help prepare for adulthood and independent living.
You can read the full list of what must be included in each section in the SEND Code of Practice sections 9.62 and 9.63.
You can find a detailed checklist covering each of these sections at IPSEA EHC plan checklist.
EHC plan checklist - IPSEA website
How will I be involved?
The SEND Code of Practice (section 9.21 and 9.168) says:
Local authorities must consult the child and the child's parent or the young person throughout the process of assessment and production of an EHC plan.
Reviews must be undertaken in partnership with the child and their parent or the young person, and must take account of their views, wishes and feelings, including their right to request a Personal Budget.
Your views, and your child's views, are really important. The local authority, school or college should help you take part and involve you in decision making. If you would like help to do this please contact East Riding SENDIASS for impartial advice and support. We can also give you information on other sources of help, and on what to do if you do not feel that you have been heard or listened to.