EHCP: Introduction, Assessment and Process
An Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is a legal document. It is sometimes called a statutory plan or an EHC Plan. An EHCP sets out:
- the child/young person's needs
- the outcomes for that child/young person
- the provision needed to meet their needs/outcomes
- the most appropriate educational placement
EHCPs cover the age range 0-25.
The Assessment and Planning (A&P) team manage EHCPs in East Sussex.
Is an Assessment Necessary?
Most children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) will receive support in their local school. This is even the case without an EHCP. For the majority of children, a support plan drawn up by their school is enough to help them achieve well.
All schools have a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo). They are available to discuss any concerns you have about your child. This can include your child’s needs or their current support.
SEND support can take many forms including:
- a special learning programme for your child
- extra help from a teacher or a learning support assistant
- working with your child in a small group
- therapeutic interventions
- speech and language, occupational and physiotherapy support
Nationally, 4.3% of children and young people have an EHCP. These are the children and young people with the most complex needs.
You may feel that your child is not making expected progress despite high quality SEND support. In this case, you or your child’s SENCo can ask for an EHC needs assessment. This is sometimes called an EHCNA.
Requesting an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment
The whole process of requested an EHCP can take up to 20 weeks. This is from when the Local Authority receives the request for statutory assessment, to when they issue the EHCP.
The request can come from you, your child if they’re over 16, or, ideally, from their educational setting. This includes their nursery, school or college. It helps to avoid delays if the request comes from the educational setting. This is because they can provide evidence that we will need to make our decision. Evidence includes:
- information about your child’s needs and progress, and
- a description of the things that they have already put into place to help your child.
It’s a good idea to speak to the educational setting first if you have concerns about your child’s needs. In most cases, they can sort things out and intervene without the need to ask for extra help. If that’s not possible, then it’s always useful if they start the process of requesting an assessment.
To request an EHC needs assessment yourself, you can contact the Assessment and Planning (A&P) team:
You and your child’s educational setting will have 2 weeks to provide any further information. The Local Authority will then consider the request.
- For a breakdown of the process, you can view the EHCNA 20 week timeline PDF.
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Deciding Whether to Carry Out an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment
The Local Authority must make a decision whether to conduct an EHC needs assessment. They must inform you of this decision within 6 weeks of receiving the request for assessment.
They will assign you an Assessment and Planning Officer (APO). The APO will send you the decision in writing.
The Local Authority may not think your child requires an EHC needs assessment. If this is the case, your APO will ask the school or college to arrange a Way Forward meeting with you and your child. At this meeting, a non-statutory school-based Additional Needs Plan (ANP) can be reviewed, or agreed if required. This will help to support your child. The APO will send you and the school all the information collated before making the decision. This will conclude the statutory EHCNA process. If you don’t agree with the Local Authority’s decision, you have the right to appeal.
For more information, see the ‘Help and Support’ section below.
If the Local Authority decides that your child requires an EHC needs assessment, we will need your child to tell us more about themselves. This can be with support if necessary. We will also need you to give us your views.
We’ll also need information from the following people:
- an educational psychologist
- a community or consultant paediatrician
- a social worker (if applicable)
- any other professionals that work with your child. For example, a specialist teacher or speech therapist
- people that have particular knowledge that is relevant to your child’s education. These may be people you want us to ask for advice. You will need to let your APO know who these people are and provide their contact details.
We will also go back to your child’s educational setting and ask for any further up-to-date information.
Everyone we formally ask for information as part of an EHC needs assessment must reply to us within 6 weeks of the request. It is important that you and your child keep all the appointments relating to their assessment. It could delay the process if you don’t.
We understand that sometimes things happen and plans change. If you can't make an appointment, please make sure you contact the person you're supposed to see as soon as possible. You can then arrange a new time. Please let your APO know if there is going to be a delay.
The APO will collate all the advice received, together with your and your child’s views. The Local Authority will then consider all the evidence. They will then decide whether your child needs an EHCP to meet their special educational needs. The APO will send you the decision in writing.
Deciding Whether to Issue an EHCP
The Local Authority must make a decision whether to issue an EHCP. They must inform you of this decision within 16 weeks of receiving the initial request.
If the Local Authority has decided that your child’s educational setting can meet their needs without an EHCP, the APO will explain why. Your APO will ask the school or college to arrange a Way Forward meeting with you and your child. At this meeting, a non-statutory school-based Additional Needs Plan (ANP) can be reviewed, or agreed if required. This will help to support your child. The APO will send you and the school all the reports collated during the EHC needs assessment. These will inform the ANP and the school’s support for your child. This will conclude the statutory EHCNA process. If you don’t agree with the Local Authority’s decision, you have the right to appeal. For more information, see ‘Help and Support’ section below.
We have more information about the Additional Needs Plans and support from schools on this site. Please visit our Understanding SEND Support in Schools page.
If the Local Authority decides to issue an Education, Health and Care plan, the APO will offer you a co-production meeting. It is normal for this meeting to take place at your child’s educational setting. You, your child, their educational setting, and any professionals involved will be invited. This meeting will provide an opportunity to identify the provision needed to address your child’s SEN. It will also identify the outcomes expected to be achieved through the EHCP. At this meeting, you will also be able to ask for an 'Education Personal Budget'. Your and your child’s views will form a central part of these discussions. This includes your views on which school your child should attend. Most children and young people with an EHCP stay in their local mainstream school. This is because their special educational needs can usually be met with some extra support in accordance with their EHCP.
The APO will draft a working document of your child’s future EHCP before the co-production meeting. They will do this using the information collated during the EHC needs assessment. They will send this co-production document to you, and all those invited, before the meeting. This meeting will usually take place around week 12 to 14 of the process.
Following the co-production meeting, the APO will produce a draft EHCP. This will be based on the co-production document and the discussions that took place at the meeting. They will send the draft EHCP to you for comment by the end of week 16 at the latest.
Finalising the EHCP
The Local Authority must issue the final EHCP within 20 weeks of receiving the assessment request.
Once we have sent you the draft EHCP, you will have 15 calendar days to consider it. Within this time, you must let us know if you are happy with the plan or want to suggest any changes. The Local Authority will consider any requested changes before issuing the final EHCP. You may also request a meeting with your APO during this time to discuss the draft EHCP.
You should also tell us during this consultation process what educational setting you would like named in Section I of the plan. Wherever possible, the APO will work with you to identify suitable educational settings. This will take place early on in the process. In most cases, parents expect their child to stay in their local mainstream school or college. This is because their needs can often be met with some extra help, as agreed in the EHCP.
Once you have told us your preferred school or college, the APO will formally consult with them. Sometimes:
- the chosen educational setting will be unable to offer a place for your child; or,
- the Local Authority may not agree with your choice.
If either of these happen, the APO will identify and consult with other educational settings. They will be settings we believe can meet your child’s needs. The educational settings should formally let us know within 15 calendar days whether they are able to meet your child’s needs.
Following consultation, the Local Authority will decide which education provider to name in Section I of the final EHCP. They will base this on:
- their suitability
- their compatibility with the efficient education of others, and
- the efficient use of resources.
The Local Authority will finalise and send the final EHCP to you by the end of week 20 from the start of the process. This is when the support specified in the plan will be put in place. If you don’t agree with the contents of the final EHCP, you will have the right to appeal. For more information, see ‘Help and Support’ section below.
The Sections of an EHCP
The EHCP has 11 sections which outline the broad range of needs and support required by your child. The sections include:
- Section A: This part includes the views, aspirations and interests of the child or young person and their parents.
- Section B: Describes your child’s Special Educational Needs (SEN).
- Section C: Is for your child’s health care needs, which might relate to their SEN.
- Section D: Details your child’s social care needs. This can relate to their SEN or to any disabilities they may have.
- Section E: This section records what the outcome should be for your child. This is based on what’s described in sections B, C and D. The outcomes should include detail and timescales.
- Section F: This describes the special educational provision that your child needs to meet their SEN. It should detail what kind of provision they’ll need, as well as who will deliver it, and for how long.
- Section G: Describes any health care provision your child might need. For example, if they have learning difficulties or disabilities that affect their SEN.
- Section H: Outlines any social care provision needed from social care services. This provision is to help your child with their learning difficulties and/or SEND.
- Section I: This section names the educational setting that your child should go to. This is based on their SEND. At the very least, it should state what type of institution if one is not named specifically.
- Section J: Is for any personal budgets around how provision will be paid for. Visit our page on 'EHCP: Funding and Personal Budget' to learn more.
- Section K: This includes copies of any advice or information given at the EHC needs assessment. It also includes any other relevant sources of information.
Your child or young person may be eligible for travel assistance. If you would like to apply or find out more, you can visit the main East Sussex County Council website:
- SEND school and college transport | East Sussex County Council
- Apply for travel assistance | East Sussex County Council
Post-16 travel assistance is discretionary. The Local Authority will consider each application in line with policy. You can learn more on the main East Sussex County Council website:
You should not make an applications until the EHCP has named a placement.
Parents or the young person must apply for travel assistance by 30 April. The Local Authority cannot guarantee that arrangements will be in place from the start of September for applications received after this date.
Additional Help and Support
Assessment & Planning Officer (APO)
Your APO will support you throughout the assessment process. The APO will contact you if there are any delays, or any information that you should know, as things arise.
Some of our APOs work part-time and may not be available immediately if you telephone or email them. However, if you leave a message, they will always respond to your contact as soon as they are able. You will find their direct telephone number on any of the letters you have received.
You can also contact the Assessment & Planning office by:
Amaze SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service) are a local charity. They offer free, independent, and impartial advice for all matters relating to SEND. You can get their support throughout this process but we recommend you access their advice or support from the very start of the process. Contact Amaze SENDIASS by:
Visit the Amaze SENDIASS web page.
Amaze have also created an ‘EHC Plans Fact Sheet’:
Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST)
You have the right to appeal. You can appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST). Appeal may be for the following reasons:
- if we decide not to carry out an EHC needs assessment
- if we decide not to progress to an EHCP
- if you are not happy with the final EHCP, including Health and Social Care sections.
We would hope to sort out any disagreements with you and your child’s educational setting first. Please contact your APO in the first instance. They will try and resolve any issues and address any of your concerns. You will find their direct telephone number on any of the letters you have received.
To find out more, please visit our page on EHCP: Appeals and Mediation.
East Sussex Local Offer directory of services
You can visit our SEND-specific online directory, hosted on East Sussex 1Space. The directory lists many different services both throughout the county and online. Services cover many topics, including:
- Advice, Guidance and Support Groups
- Activities and Events
- Mental Health and Wellbeing Support
Visit the East Sussex Local Offer directory.
NHS - Health A to Z
The East Sussex Local Offer aims to provide as much information as possible. There may be some conditions that aren't covered in thorough detail. The NHS website has pages that list all conditions. These pages provide information and advice on how to get extra support:
Visit the NHS Health A to Z web page.
Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms
We explain some of the terms used on this website on our page, Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms.
Visit the next page: EHCP Reviews