What is an Education Health and Care Plan?
An Education Health and Care Plan describes a child or young person’s special educational needs (SEN) and the help that 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 are for children and young people who need more support that their school or other setting can provide. The plans can start from a child’s birth and continue into further education and training.
The SEN code of practice 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 ensure the best possible outcomes for them across education, health and social care and as they get older, prepare them for adulthood. (9.2)
Who needs an EHC plan?
EHC plans are for children and young people who have special educational needs or a disability that cannot be met by the support that is usually 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 the SEN support is to help children achieve the outcomes or learning objective 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 should carry out an EHC needs assessment.
A parent, young person (aged 16 – 25 years), early years setting, school or post 16 provider 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 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 (9.14)
The law states that if your child has or may have special educational 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 provide, you can ask for an assessment.
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 that 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 evidence from the ECH 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 provision will be coordinated
- be forward looking, for example anticipating, planning 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.
Can I request a particular school?
The law says that parents or the young person has a right to request that a particular school, college or other institution is named in the EHC plan. The local authority must agree to this request unless:
- it could be unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or SEN of the child or young person, or
- the attendance of the child or young person there would be incompatible with the efficient education of others, or the efficient use of resources
You can find out more about your rights to request a particular school or college in the SEND Code of Practice sections 9.78-9.90.
How will I be involved?
The SEND Code of Practice says that 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. (9.21).
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. (9.168)
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 more help to do this please contact SENDIASS.
Will there be a review of the EHC plan?
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 young person, and must take account of their views, wishes and feelings.
The local authority must decide whether to keep the plan as it is, make changes or cease to maintain it within four weeks of the review meeting. You have a right of appeal if the local authority proposes to cease the EHC plan.
For some young people an EHC plan will continue until they are 25. However, the plan will stop if the young person:
- goes to university
- gets a job
- tells their local authority they no longer want their EHC plan or no longer needs special help and the authority decides that the EHC plan should cease
The local authority is responsible for ensuring that all the needs set out in the EHC plan are met and that the provision is made, whatever their funding arrangements or agreements with other service providers.
All young people with an EHC Plan and all parents of children with an EHC plan can ask for a personal budget.
The SEND code of practice says:
A personal budget is an amount of money identified by the local authority to deliver provision set out in an EHC plan where the parent or young person is involved in securing that provision. (9.95)
Section 9.110 to 9.118 of the SEND code of practice tells you more about what can be included in a personal budget. SENDIASS can also give you more information about personal budgets.
Where can I get more information, advice or support?
You can read about Education, Health and Care plans in the SEND Code of Practice Chapter 9 .
The SEND guide for parents and carers provides further information about how the SEND system works.
North East Lincolnshire’s Local Offer includes more information on the local arrangements for EHC Plans.
You can also contact SENDIASS who can offer you:
- information about EHC plans
- advice and support during any stage of the EHC process
- information, advice and support about your rights to make a complaint, seek independent disagreement resolution or mediation