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An Education, Health and Care plan (“EHCP”or “EHC Plan”) is a legal document which identifies educational, health and social needs and sets out the additional support (“provision”) required to meet those needs. It is written and maintained by your child’s or young person’s local authority (“LA”).
The SEND Code of Practice (2015) states in 9.2 –“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. To achieve this, local authorities use the information from the assessment to:
- establish 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
- establish outcomes across education, health and social care based on the child or young person’s needs and aspirations
- specify the provision required and how education, health and care services will work together to meet the child or young person’s needs and support the achievement of the agreed outcomes”.
Who is an EHC Plan for?
It is for children and young people aged up to 25 whose Special Educational Needs (SEN) cannot be reasonably met (ie. supported) through their normally resourced local mainstream early years, school or post 16 provision. (To see what this means in detail please look at our SEN Support page)
An EHC plan can give a child or young person extra educational support to help them meet their educational and other outcomes, and can also give parents and young people more choice about which school or setting they can attend.
Who is responsible for agreeing and writing the EHC Plan?
The special educational provision described in an EHC plan must be provided by the child or young person’s local authority.
In West Sussex, it is the Special Educational Needs Assessment Team (“SENAT”) who represent the Local Authority (“LA”) in EHC plan related issues (this includes the EHC Needs Assessment). SENAT have Planning Co-ordinators who work within area teams and you will be allocated a named Planning Co-ordinator to work with you during the EHC Needs Assessment process and once an EHC Plan has been agreed. Your Planning Co-ordinator should therefore be the first person you contact if you have any questions about your child or young person’s EHC Plan or related issues.
You can find your area team’s details via the Local Offer
How does my child or young person get an EHC Plan?
Before an EHC plan can be agreed and issued, an EHC needs assessment must first take place. The time from the initial request for assessment to the final EHC Plan being issued can take up to 20 weeks so it is not a quick process and there are several decisions made by the LA at distinct stages. Go to our EHCNA page for more information on this and when and how to request an Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment.
What should an EHC Plan contain?
The first time you are likely to see your child / young person’s EHC Plan is when you receive the draft. The way an EHCP is set out differs between local authorities but they all have to contain the following 11 sections (A- K):
- Section A – views, interests and aspirations
- Section B – special educational needs
- Section C – health needs relating to SEN
- Section D – social care needs relating to SEN
- Section E – outcomes
- Section F – special educational provision
- Section G – health provision
- Section H1 – social care provision (specific)
- Section H2 – social care provision
- Section I – placement
- Section J – personal budget
- Section K – advice and information
- Communication & Interaction;
- Cognition & Learning; Social,
- Emotional & Mental Health; and
- Sensory &/or Physical.
An EHC plan as a whole, should be written in a way that makes it clear, to anyone who needs to read it (parents, young people, education settings, practitioners, as well as the local authority). It should be clear, concise, understandable and accessible and should have an accurate and detailed description of the child/young person’s educational needs included in it.
Sections F, G & H (the provision sections) should clearly set out who will be supporting and where, when and how often it will happen and how often it should be reviewed. Outcomes in Section E should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
Is there anything I can do if I disagree with what has been written?
Throughout the EHC needs assessment you may receive copies of reports that will be used in the writing of the EHC plan. If you disagree with anything within one of these reports, you should go back to the author and explain your concerns and ask them to amend it. It may be helpful to copy in or notify the Planning Coordinator of your request for change(s) as they will also have received the report. You may be asked to provide evidence to support your request(s).
The Local Authority will always issue the EHC plan as a draft first and you will have at least 15 days to make any comments or requests for amendments on the draft. They will often provide a deadline for these in their letter as this aids them with achieving the statutory timescales however, if you require more time, please speak with your Planning Coordinator about this. You can also request to meet with a representative of the Local Authority at this time, to discuss face to face, any changes you would like made (a phone call or online meeting may be offered at the moment due to Covid). Again, please make this request through your Planning Coordinator.
Receiving the draft is also the time to state your preference of educational setting and request a personal budget should you want one (these are left blank at the draft stage). For more information on checking the draft please see our Draft EHCP page.
What happens when I receive the Final EHC Plan?
The final EHC plan must be issued within 20 weeks of the initial request for an EHC needs assessment (except for exceptional circumstances). If it is possible, SENAT will work with you to resolve any disagreements there may be about the contents and /or the placement being named but SENAT may decide (and are allowed) to issue a final EHC plan without these being resolved. If this happens, you have the right to go to formal mediation or appeal to the SEND Tribunal. It is important that you understand the reasons why your requests about contents and/or placement are not being considered so do keep talking with your Planning Coordinator to gain a clearer understanding. These considerations will also be important should you choose to go to appeal as they will form part of your case.