Education, health and care plans (EHCPs) can help some children and young people.
The EHCP covers children from birth up to the age of 25.
Most children and young people will have their needs met without one, and will be able to access lots of support without an EHCP.
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About education, health and care plans
The purpose of an education, health and care (EHC) plan is to:
- make special educational provision to meet the special educational needs of the child or young person
- secure the best possible outcomes for them across education, health and social care
- prepare them for adulthood as they get older.
To achieve this, we use information from an EHC assessment to:
- find out and record the views, interests and aspirations of the parents and child or young person
- provide a full description of the child or young person’s special educational needs and any health and social care needs
- agree outcomes across education, health and social care based on the child or young person’s needs, hopes and aspirations
- specify what provision is needed and how education, health and care services will work together to meet the child or young person’s needs and help them reach the agreed outcomes.
Families with an EHCP will be able to request a personal budget to buy services they need.
An EHCP must have an Annual Review to make sure that a child's or younger person's needs are being met.
Parents, children and young people must be involved in the assessment and planning stages, as well as the Annual Review.
Who can request an EHC needs assessment
You can request an EHC needs assessment for a child or young person aged 0 and 25 if you are:
- the child’s parent or carer
- a young person aged over 16 but under 25
- acting on behalf of a school or post-16 institution (this should ideally be with the knowledge and agreement of the parent or young person where possible)
Anyone can bring a child or young person who has (or may have) SEND to our attention, particularly if they think an EHC needs assessment is needed.
This could include:
- foster carers
- health and social care professionals
- early years practitioners
- youth offending teams or probation services
- those responsible for education in custody
- school or college staff.
How to request an EHC needs assessment
An EHC assessment should be requested after your child or young person’s educational setting has carried out interventions via the Graduated Approach.
You can contact the school SENCO to find out what provision is in place for your child or young person.
To request an EHC needs assessment:
- if you're a parent, download and complete the parent request and information form
- if you're an educational setting, download and complete the school request form.
Guidance for parents
Download guidance on how to make an EHC needs assessment.
How long the EHC assessment process takes
The whole process should be completed within 20 weeks as set out below. You can also download our EHC assessment timeline.
Week 0 to 6
In this time:
- your request is received
- information is gathered
- a decision made to progress to EHC assessment or notification not to proceed is issued (feedback provided with right to appeal)
Week 7 to 12
During this time:
- professional and parental advice is requested and considered
Week 13 to 16
In this time:
- a decision is made to issue an EHCP or not (with right to appeal)
- if an EHCP is to be issued, a co-production meeting takes place
- a draft plan will be produced
- if an EHCP is not to be issued, a Way Forward meeting takes place
Week 17 to 20
In the final weeks:
there will be a consultation with education setting about placement and meeting needs
a final plan is issued and support put in place
What can prolong the process beyond 20 weeks
The process may be prolonged if:
- the child or young person has missed appointments with a professional who the authority has requested advice from
- the child or young person is absent from the area for a period of at least four weeks
- exceptional personal circumstances affect the child, their parent or carer, or the young person
- the educational institution is closed for at least four weeks, which may delay the submission of information.
If a parent or carer, or young person is not happy with a decision made about an EHC needs assessment, or the contents of an EHCP, we will work with them to reach an agreed way forward.
There are three different options.
A way forward meeting
This is an informal discussion, normally held at your child or young person’s school with parents, the SEN officer and SENCO. These are normally held after a request for assessment has been declined or after a plan has not been issued to explain the reasons why and next steps.
Mediation and disagreement resolution services
Mediation is confidential and aims to resolve disagreements in a quick, informal way using a neutral third party, a mediator, to help reach a resolution that is agreed by all.
The mediator does not judge or impose a solution but ensures that any settlement is agreed between you and the Local Authority or relevant body.
The mediation will be held in a neutral location within 30 days of the local authority being told parents or young person would like mediation. The mediation arrangements are for those who are considering making an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.
A disagreement resolution service is an independent service available to parents or carer of all children and young people with SEND, not just those who are being assessed for, or have an EHCP. They are designed to help resolve disagreements about any aspect of SEND provision, and health and social care disagreements during the processes related to EHC needs assessments and EHCPs.
If the disagreement resolution meeting does not resolve all the issues, parents or carer, or the young person can still appeal to the First-tier Tribunal within the agreed time frame.
For disagreement resolution service contact Global Mediation.
Appeals to the First-tier Tribunal
If parents or carers or the young person is still not happy, they can lodge an appeal with the First-tier Tribunal.
Appeals to the First-tier Tribunal can be made when a local authority refuses to:
- carry out an EHC assessment or reassessment
- issue an EHCP after making an assessment or reassessment
- change the sections of an existing EHCP which are about education (sections B, F and I) usually following an Annual Review
- or decides that the pupil does not need an EHCP any more.
Before an appeal can be lodged to the First-tier Tribunal, parents or carers or the young person have to contact mediation services first.
Young people who are aged between 19 and 25 years old may be entitled to an education, health and care plan (EHCP).
Students aged 19 to 25 with EHCPs who are continuing in education may have the options of:
If you have an EHCP but do not continue in education, training or you get a job, your EHCP will stop.
A Person Centred Annual Review (PCAR) must be held at least annually, usually at the child or young person’s educational setting, once an EHCP has been the issued.
Parents, carers, and the child or young person involved must contribute to the PCAR by:
- considering a pupil’s progress linked to the outcomes in the EHCP, what has gone well, what has not and if so, what needs to change to meet the outcome
- considering if the outcome has been met or if a new outcome is needed to meet the continuing need
- reviewing the personal budget, if there is one
- allowing parents/carers or a young person to request changes to the EHCP.
There are documents that need to be completed for the PCAR:
- if you are a parent download the PCAR parent/carers views form
- if you are a young person download the PCAR young person's views form
- if you are an educational setting download the PCAR record of meeting form or the PCAR record of meeting (Year 9 onwards) form.
When the review is complete, the paperwork must be returned to us within 10 days of the meeting.
We must accept the PCAR or consider any requests for changes to the EHCP made at the review within two weeks of the date of receipt.
Parents, carers or the young person can appeal against decisions resulting from the PCAR to the First Tier Tribunal.
A personal SEN budget is an amount of money identified to deliver all or some of the provision set out in an education, health and care (EHC) plan.
You can request a personal budget once an EHCP assessment is completed and it is confirmed that an EHCP is to be prepared. Or during a statutory review of an existing plan.
We have to consider your request and offer information to help you decide the best course of action.
The personal budget will reflect the whole of the EHCP and will be based on clear, agreed outcomes. The decision making process to establish and agree a budget is transparent and challengeable.
A personal budget can be managed through:
- direct payments - you get the money in your account to pay for services yourself
- third party arrangements - you choose an individual or organisation to manage the funds for you.
Personal SEN budgets are not usually given to parents/carers or young people who go to a state-funded or independent specialist educational settings. This is because they get all the money to provide the provision needed.
If a parent, carer, or young person wants a personal SEN budget they must get permission from the head teacher or principal and governing body of the educational setting first. This is so the chosen provider can deliver the provision on the premises. If they do not agree, the personal SEN budget cannot be given whilst the child or young person attends that setting.
If a personal SEN budget is agreed and you need some extra support managing your budget, you can phone the Self-Directed Support Team on 01634 331 351 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to apply for a personal SEN budget
A personal SEN budget can be considered to make the provision detailed in section F of a child or young person’s EHCP.
If a personal SEN budget is awarded, it will be made via a direct payment to the child’s parents or carers, or to the young person.
This enables parents/carers or the young person to pay for the provision from their chosen provider.
To apply for a personal SEN budget a request needs to be made either:
- when the proposed, final or amended final EHCP is issued
- through the EHCP annual review
- or via a specific request in writing to your SEN officer.
The provision for which you would like a personal SEN budget must be detailed in section F of the EHCP, or evidence must be presented at the annual review to show that this is a new need for which provision is required.
In each case, you will need to provide a written report or assessment from your chosen provider together with a quote for the provision.
If a personal SEN budget is awarded, you must seek the permission of the headteacher and school’s governing body to allow your chosen provider to work with your child/you in the educational setting.
The headteacher and governing body has the final say in the decision.
Information and Advice Support service
Medway Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information and Advice Support Service (SENDIAS) offer free and impartial help and advice to families who are going through the EHC process.
Tell us what you think
Your feedback is important to us.
Please let us know about your experience of getting an EHCP using our EHCP process survey.