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Education, Health and Care Plans explained

Some children or young people with more complex educational needs may need more support than what can be provided in a mainstream education setting (e.g. a college, school or nursery). An Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) sets out what their needs are and the support they will get to help them achieve their goals.

The plan is drawn up by the local authority after an EHC needs assessment.

Although the plan can include health or social care needs, your child will not get a plan if they only have health or social care needs that do not affect their education.

How do I get an EHCP?

EHC plans are drawn up by the local authority after an EHC needs assessment. You, your child's education provider or your child if they are aged over 16, can ask your local authority to carry out an assessment.

If the special educational provision being made for a child or young person by an early years setting, school or college is not enabling the child or young person to make adequate progress then it may be necessary to request an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Assessment.

All involved, parent/carers, settings and support services and (if appropriate) young people should work together to make the request to the local authority.

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Legal requirements

An ECHP is a legal document describing a young person's needs; what should happen to meet those needs and the suitable educational placement.

The plan must be person centred, focusing on the needs and hopes of the child or young person. The ECHP may continue beyond school into further education (eg college or an apprenticeship), and training, although not for university. Some young people may have their plan extended up to the age of 25 years old to support them into adulthood.

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: (Section 9.151) states:

“A local authority may cease a plan for a 19-25-year-old if it decides that it is no longer necessary for the ECHP to be maintained. Such circumstances include where the young person no longer requires the special educational provision specified in their Education, Health and Care plan.”

Education, health and social care services are required to co-operate in assessing needs and securing the provision recorded in the ECHP.

Early Years providers, schools and post-16 institutions will continue to be required to use their 'best endeavours' to meet the needs of those with SEND in their local offer. They will also:

  • publish information on how they meet SEND in their Local Offer
  • ensure they have an SEN co-ordinator who is a qualified teacher (schools)
  • inform young people or parents if they believe they or their child has SEND

Personal budgets

If a parent or young person requests it, we must consider a personal budget in relation to an EHCP. In some circumstances this may include the making of a direct payment.

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Right of appeal

If your child has been refused an EHC assessment, you can appeal this decision to an independent tribunal within two months of the date on your decision letter, or one month from the date of the medication certificate - whichever is later.

If your child has had a EHC needs assessment and the local authority decides the child or young person's needs can be met by the education provider in other ways, you have the right to appeal this decision, and the local authority must give you information about this.

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The Government are extending the powers of the First-tier Tribunal (SEND), sometimes referred to as the ‘SEND Tribunal’, to make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans as part of a two-year trial. The SEND National Trial, single route of redress will apply to decisions made or EHC plans issued/amended from 3 April 2018.

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What does an ECHP look like?

The plan has 11 sections labelled alphabetically:

  • A: The views, interests and aspirations of your child
  • B: Special educational needs (SEN)
  • C: Health needs related to SEN
  • D: Social care needs related to SEN
  • E: Outcomes - how the extra help will benefit your child
  • F: Special educational provision (support)
  • G: Health provision
  • H: Social care provision
  • I: Placement - type and name of school or other institution
  • J: Personal budget arrangements
  • K: Advice and information - a list of the information gathered during the EHC needs assessment

The plan should be written so that everyone can understand it. It should be clear and detailed about the amount and type of support your child will get and how the support will help your child.

The Annual Review Process

The ECHP must be reviewed at least once a year. This is a chance for everyone involved in supporting your child to check how well they are progressing and whether anything needs to be changed. At the end of the review the Local Authority may make changes to the plan, end it or leave it unchanged.

The ECHP will remain in place until the child or young person leaves education or the Local Authority decides that they no longer need the plan to help them in their education. If you move to another Local Authority the plan will be transferred.

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Post-16 support information

The support that young people with SEND receive from age 16 should encourage them to make decisions and develop skills and qualifications that will enable them to achieve their aspirations and move into adulthood with confidence.

Young people who have an EHCP will be supported to move out of their plan and access the adult services they need.

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19 to 25 year olds’ entitlement to EHC plans

The majority of young people with EHC plans complete further education with their peers by age 19, and the expectation is that this will continue. However, it is recognised that some young people with special educational needs and disabilities need longer to complete and consolidate their education and training. The length of time will vary according to each young person, and judgements on when to stop or maintain a plan must be made on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with the statutory tests and processes.

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