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Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP)

Education, Health and Care Plans (sometimes called an EHC Plan or EHCP) are for children and young people up to the age of 25 who require special educational provision to meet their special educational needs.

EHC Plans should seek to secure the best possible outcomes for children and young people across education, health and social care and, as they get older, prepare them for adulthood.

EHC plans are based on a co-ordinated assessment and planning process undertaken by the Local Authority (LA) SEND Team. This process is called the EHC needs assessment and it is a statutory process.

The LA will prepare an EHCP when the outcome of an EHC needs assessment identifies that special educational provision is required to meet the child or young person’s needs and this cannot reasonably be provided from within the resources normally available to mainstream early years providers, schools and post 16 institutions. 

You can read more about EHCPs in the sections below.

This video can help to explain more about EHC Plans: A quick guide for parents and carers to the Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) process - YouTube 

The SEN Team manages all aspects of the statutory processes related to Education, Health and Care Plans. You can find out more about the team and its duties here.

EHC Needs Assessments

An Education, Health and Care needs assessment (EHCNA) should identify a child or young person’s special educational needs. This assessment may lead to your child getting an EHC Plan.

You, your child’s school or setting, or a young person* can ask your local authority for an EHC needs assessment.  

*Young people over 16 and below 25 in education (for example sixth form or college) can request an EHCNA). Those under 19 in youth custodial establishments also have the right to request an EHCNA.

Note the child or young person does not have to attend a school or education setting in order for a request for assessment to be made.

Please click here to read more information about EHC needs assessments.

Timescales for EHC needs assessment and EHC plan development

There are several timescales called ‘statutory timescales’ set out in the SEN Code of Practice. Local authorities and other organisations must follow these when undertaking an EHC needs assessment and when developing an EHC Plan.

From the point an assessment is requested until the final EHC plan is issued, the process must take no more than 20 weeks*.

Click on this link for details of the statutory timescales and local processes.

*There are some exemptions to this such as school holiday dates – see the Code of Practice for these.

Decisions about the content of EHC Plans should be made openly and collaboratively with parents, children and young people - see "EHCNA has taken place and an EHCP issued" section 

Contents of an EHCP

The SEND Code of Practice sets out the following key requirements and principles about EHCPs:

  • Decisions about the content should be made openly and collaboratively with parents, children and young people
  • EHCPs should positively describe achievements
  • EHCPs should be clear, concise, understandable and accessible
  • EHCPs must specify the outcomes sought for a child or young person
  • EHCPs should show how education, health and care provision should be coordinated to best achieve agreed outcomes
  • EHCPs should consider how best to achieve outcomes and account must be taken of any innovative or alternative ways to receive support sought by the young person or parent
  • EHCPs should describe how family and community support can help in achieving agreed outcomes
  • EHCPs should be forward looking and anticipate and plan for important transition points in a child or young person’s life, including transition into adult life
  • EHCPs should have a review date

The EHCP is a legal document that must include the following sections as a minimum and labelled using the letters below (although they do not need to be the same order):

  • Section A – the views, interests and aspirations of the child and their parents or the young person
  • Section B - the child / young person’s special educational needs (SEN)
  • Section C - the child / young person’s health needs which are related to their SEN
  • Section D - the child / young person’s social care needs which are related to their SEN or to a disability
  • Section E - the outcomes sought for the child or young person (and should include outcomes for adult life)
  • Section F – the special educational provision required by the child or young person
  • Section G – any health provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties or disabilities which result in the child or young person having SEN. 
  • Section H1 – the  social care provision that must be provided as a result of section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 (CSDPA)
  • Section H2 – any other social care provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties or disabilities which result in the child or young person having SEN
  • Section I – the name and type of educational setting that the child/young person should attend
  • Section J – how a personal budget (if any) will be used
  • Section K – supplementary information gathered during the needs assessment.

Maintaining and reviewing EHC Plans

Where an EHC Plan is maintained for a child or young person the local authority must secure the special educational provision specified in the Plan. The local authority should also reach agreement with health and social care partners about the health and social care provision specified in Plans and how it will be made.

EHC Plans will be used to actively monitor children and young people’s progress towards their outcomes and longer-term aspirations.

They must be reviewed by the Local Authority as a minimum every 12 months; this is called an Annual Review. 

Either the Local Authority or the child/young person’s educational institution will arrange this Annual Review meeting.

Annual Reviews must focus on the child or young person’s progress towards achieving the outcomes specified in the EHC Plan. The review must also consider whether these outcomes and supporting targets remain appropriate.

Click here to read more about Annual Reviews.

What to do if you disagree with a decision or contents relating to an EHC Plan

If you are not happy with a decision that has been made regarding an EHC needs assessment or the contents of an EHC Plan, there are several options open to you.

Firstly, do accept the invitation to speak with a member of the Local Authority SEND Team.  When any decision is made about an EHC needs assessment or an EHC Plan, you will be notified in writing.  The letter explaining the decision will contain details of who you can speak to within the SEND Team and you can ask for a meeting to discuss that decision.

You can contact them by emailing

Read about more options here.   

EHC Plans and the EHC Hub

From 1st September 2020 the EHC needs assessment process is being undertaken using the EHC Hub.

The accessibility of this information makes the annual review process much more transparent for families and professionals. It also prevents parents and children / young people from having to repeat their story numerous times.

Find details about using the EHC hub.

Further reading

Related SEND Local Offer website pages

Further advice and support

  • SENDIASS is a confidential and impartial information, advice and support service on issues related to Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).  Their website offers a host of information and advice 
  • Southend SEND Independent Forum (SSIF) is the official Parent Carer Forum for SEND families in Southend, comprised of parents whose children have a range of needs.
  • IPSEA is a national charity offering free and independent legally based information, advice and support for parents/carers of children and young people with all kinds of SEND. 
 Last updated: 03 Jan 2023

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