Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) Q&As
On this page, you can find answers to your questions regarding Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)
All the questions have been submitted by local parents and answered by Local Authority staff. Click on a question to read the response.
An Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is a legally-binding agreement between you and the Local Authority which outlines the support your child (aged 0-25) should receive throughout their development. The plan brings together the education, health and social care plan to make sure your child’s care and support are coordinated.
If your child receives an EHCP it will include:
- any reasonable adjustments your child’s school, college or nursery need to make to support their needs
- specialist support or therapy your child requires
- what type of school, college or nursery will be best able to meet your child’s needs
You can find out more about EHCPs by clicking here.
To get an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) for your child you will need to request an assessment from the local authority’s SEN Service. Requests can be made by a school, parent or the young person themselves (if they are aged 16-25 years). You can download request forms for an EHCP assessment by clicking here.
Once a request form has been received by the local authority, they will have six weeks to decide whether they will conduct an assessment. To help the local authority make this decision, a multi-disciplinary SEN Panel will be called to review the evidence you have submitted and consult any professionals as may be necessary. This is to establish whether:
- the child or young person has or may have special educational needs, and
- it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHCP.
The local authority will use the conclusions of the SEN Panel as advice when making their own decision about whether to proceed with an assessment.
If a decision to conduct an assessment is made, the SEN Service will contact you to allocate a named key worker who will work with you to find out more about your child and their needs. The assessment will also involve input from other professionals working with your child.
The EHCP assessment process takes 20 weeks to complete, however, you will find out if the local authority decides not to proceed with a plan by the sixteenth week of assessment. If the local authority has decided not to issue an EHCP, you will be invited to a meeting where a range of alternative support will be considered.
Where the local authority agrees to issue an EHCP, they will let you know the next steps for drafting and finalising the plan. This should be completed by the end of the 20-week assessment period. You and your child should be fully involved throughout this process.
At the point that, following an application for an Education, Health and Care Plan, the local authority decides to conduct an assessment, you will be assigned a key worker. It is the role of the key worker to help you ensure that the individual needs of your child are reflected through the EHCP application process.
You may also seek independent support. The Independent Advice and Support Service is able to offer information and advice based on the law and may be able to offer you individual advocacy and case work. The local parent carers group may also be able to help you with advice based on their experiences.
There are also a number of charities that have independent advice lines and may be able to offer you individual case-work dependent on your circumstances. Some charities offering these services are listed in our Social Care and Family Support Section of the Local Offer. You should be able to find most others through a search engine or through signposting from your local parent carer group.
The first Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) you receive from the Local Authority is a “draft plan”. If you are unhappy with what the draft plan says, you have 15 days from receiving it to write to the Local Authority outlining your concerns and which changes you would like to be made. These are called your “representations”. You may also request a meeting with a Local Authority Officer to discuss the plan which the Local Authority is legally required to arrange.
If, after making representations to the Local Authority, you feel your concerns have still not been reflected in the final EHCP, you may consider mediation, or an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal. Mediation is a less-formal procedure for having your concerns addressed where an independent mediator will meet with you and the Local Authority to try and help reach an agreement. For more information on the mediation process, please click here.
If you do not wish to go through the mediation process, or you have been through it and it has not resulted in the outcome you wanted, you can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal. This must be done within either two months from receipt of your child’s final EHCP or one month following issue of a medication certificate (whichever is the later date). The Tribunal has the power to enforce amendments to the EHCP. For more information on the process, please click here.
Your child’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) must be reviewed every year to make sure it is up-to-date and your child continues to receive the right support for them. This will involve a meeting (usually at your child’s school) with input from health, education and social care. These meetings are called Annual Reviews.
When your child reaches Year 9 (or 14 years of age), the Annual Reviews must start to consider the support that needs to be put in place to help your child prepare for adulthood. The focus of this planning should be on what the young person themselves aspire to and want to achieve. Key elements of planning will be around pathways to employment, where your child will live, any adult health or social care services that need to be arranged, their financial arrangements, and how they will participate in the community. You can read more about what is involved in preparing for adulthood by clicking here.
Although legally Year 9 is the point at which preparing for adulthood must begin, it is common and sometimes more desirable to begin planning for your child’s adult life earlier. Ideas and plans can always be changed if your child’s ambitions change. If you would like to discuss your child’s future, don’t feel afraid to bring it up at any of the Annual Reviews.