EHCP: Introduction, Assessment and Process
An Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is a legal document, sometimes called a statutory plan or an EHC Plan, which 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 ISEND 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 be supported in their local school without an EHC plan. For the majority of children, a support plan drawn up by their school is sufficient 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’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% of children and young people have an EHC plan. These are the children and young people with the most complex needs.
If you feel that your child is not making expected progress despite high quality SEND support, you or your child’s SENCo can ask for an EHC needs assessment (sometimes called an EHCNA).
Requesting an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment
The whole process can take up to 20 weeks from the time the Local Authority receives the request for statutory assessment to the point when the EHC plan is issued.
The process starts when we receive the request for an EHC needs assessment. This can come from you, your child if they’re over 16, or, ideally, from their educational setting (nursery, school or college). It helps to avoid delays if the request comes from the educational setting, as they can provide evidence that we will need to make our decision. This includes information about your child’s needs and progress, together with 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 are worried about your child’s needs. In most cases, they can sort things out and intervene without the need to ask for additional 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 ISEND Assessment and Planning (A&P) team:
You and your child’s educational setting will have 2 weeks to provide any further information before the Local Authority considers the request.
- For a breakdown of the process, you can view the EHCNA 20 week timeline PDF.
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 and inform you of this decision within 6 weeks of receiving the request for assessment.
Your allocated Assessment and Planning Officer (APO) will send you the decision in writing.
If the Local Authority does not think an EHC needs assessment is required, the 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, in order to support your child. The APO will send you and the school all the information collated prior to 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 an EHC needs assessment is required, we will need your child to tell us more about themselves, 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 pediatrician
- a social worker (if applicable)
- any other professionals that work with your child (e.g. specialist teacher, speech therapist)
- people that have particular knowledge that is relevant to your child’s education, who 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 from them.
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 because 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 to 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 and decide whether an EHC plan is needed in order to meet your child’s special educational needs. The APO will send you the decision in writing.
Deciding Whether to Issue an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan
The Local Authority must make a decision whether to issue an EHC plan and inform you of this decision within 16 weeks of receiving the request for assessment.
If the Local Authority has decided that your child’s needs can be met by their school or setting without an EHC plan, the APO will explain why. The APO will ask the school or college to arrange a Way Forward meeting with you and your child. At this meeting, the EHC needs assessment can be discussed and a non-statutory school-based Additional Needs plan (ANP) can be reviewed, or agreed if required, in order 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.
If you would like to know more about the Additional Needs Plans and support from schools, please visit our page on Understanding SEND Support in Schools.
If the Local Authority decides to issue an Education, Health and Care plan, the APO will offer you a co-production meeting. This meeting will normally 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 special educational needs and the outcomes expected to be achieved through the EHC plan. 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, including your views on which school your child should attend. Most children and young people with an EHCP stay in their local mainstream school, where their special educational needs can be met with some extra support in accordance with their EHC plan.
The APO will draft a working document of your child’s future EHC plan prior to the co-production meeting. They will do this using the information collated during the EHC needs assessment. This co-production document will be sent to you, and all those invited, prior to 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 EHC plan. This will be based on the co-production document and the discussions that took place at the meeting. The draft EHC plan will be sent to you for comment by the end of week 16 at the latest.
Finalising the EHC Plan
The Local Authority must issue the final EHC plan within 20 weeks of receiving the request for assessment.
Once we have sent you the draft EHC plan, you will have 15 calendar days to consider it and to 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 EHC plan. You may also request a meeting with your APO during this time to discuss the draft EHC plan.
You should also tell us during this consultation process what school or college you would like named in Section I of the plan. Wherever possible, the APO will work with you to identify suitable educational settings early on in the process. In most cases, parents expect their child to stay in their local mainstream school or college where their needs can be met with some extra help as agreed in the EHC plan.
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 sometimes the Local Authority may not agree with your choice. If this happens, the APO will identify other educational settings that we believe can meet your child’s needs and consult with them also. The educational settings should formally let us know within 15 calendar days whether they are able to meet your child’s needs.
Following consultations with educational settings, the Local Authority will decide which education provider to name in Section I of the final EHC plan. This will be based on their suitability, compatibility with the efficient education of others, and the efficient use of resources.
The Local Authority will finalise and send the final EHC plan to you by the end of week 20 from the start of the process and the support specified in the plan will be put in place. If you don’t agree with the contents of the final EHC plan, you will have the right to appeal. For more information, see ‘Help and Support’ section below.
If parents or the young person would like to be considered for travel assistance, they need to apply on the East Sussex County Council website:
Post-16 travel assistance is discretionary, and the Council will consider each application in line with the ‘16 to 19 SEND Travel Assistance Policy’:
Applications should not be made until a placement has been named in the EHCP.
Parents or the young person must apply for travel assistance by 30 April as the local authority cannot guarantee that arrangements will be in place from the start of September for applications received after this date.
The Sections of an EHC Plan
The Educational Health and Needs Plan 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, which 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-D. The outcomes should be detailed and include timescales.
Section F: This is really important as it 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 if they have learning difficulties or disabilities that affect their SEN.
Section H: Outlines any social care provision needed from social care services to help your child with their learning difficulties and/or SEND.
Section I: This section names the educational setting (school) that your child should go to, based on their SEND. Or 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 will just include copies of any advice or information given at the EHC needs assessment, as well as any other sources of information.
Additional Help and Support
Assessment & Planning
Your allocated assessment & planning officer (APO) will be happy to guide and support you throughout the EHC needs 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 e-mail 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 will have been sent.
You can also contact the Assessment & Planning office:
Amaze SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service) are a local charity who 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:
Amaze have also created an ‘EHC Plans Fact Sheet’:
Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST)
You have the right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) for the following reasons:
- if we decide not to carry out an EHC needs assessment
- if we decide not to progress to an EHC plan
- if you are not happy with the final EHC plan, including Health and Social Care sections.
However, we would hope to sort out any disagreements through discussions with you and your child’s school or college first. Please contact your APO in the first instance, who 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 will have been sent.
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, that lists many different services both throughout the county and online. Services include advice, guidance and support groups, activities and events and mental health and wellbeing support among many other topics:
NHS - Health A to Z
While 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, with information and advice on how to get extra support:
Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms
Some of the terms used on this website are explained on our page, Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms.
Visit the next page: EHCP Reviews