Professional guidance on education, health and care plans (EHCP) and requesting child needs assessments.

Education, health and care plans (EHCP)

An education, health and care plan (EHCP) looks at all the needs that a child or young person has within education, health and care that are identified as a barrier to their learning. The child or young person, with their family and other professionals, will consider what outcomes they would like to achieve. This plan identifies what is needed to achieve those outcomes.

Although the special educational needs support in schools can in the majority of cases meet children's needs, sometimes a more detailed assessment will help the school to support your child more fully.

The school special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo) is a good first port of call if you are concerned a child's needs aren't being met. They may agree with your concerns and supporting you by submitting a request for an education, health and care needs assessment.

Special educational needs (SEN) support in schools

Once a child's special educational needs have been identified and it has been decided that they need support, the school will put cycles of the 'graduated approach' in place (assess, plan, do, review). 

If it is agreed that following several cycles of the graduated approach, the child is still not achieving expected levels of progress, or that their needs are not being met, it may be decided that a more detailed assessment would help them.

Requesting a needs assessment

Please contact us if you would like to request an assessment:

A request for an assessment of a child or young person's needs can be made by:

  • a parent or carer or a young person themselves, if they are beyond school leaving age (for example 16+ years)
  • a college, school or early years setting (with consent)
  • professionals involved with your child or young person, such as a GP, school doctor, social worker, health visitor or therapist (with consent)

Timescales of the request for assessment

As soon as we receive the assessment request, we have twenty weeks to complete the process, which may or may not result in the issue of an education, health and care plan.

By week six

We make a decision on whether or not to continue with the assessment, based on the information submitted by parents or carers and by the education provider.

By week 12

All the evidence is submitted - including the opinions of parents or carers.

By week 16

We study the evidence and make the decision of whether or not to issue an education health and care plan. We inform parents or carers of this decision.

By week 20

We have agreed a draft plan together with parents or carers. They have 15 days to consider, following the issue of the draft plan. The final education, health and care plan (EHCP) is then issued.

Issuing a final plan

If an education health and care plan is issued, one of the final stages of this process is to decide and name a provider for the child’s education. Often this will be the school or setting they already attend, making reasonable steps to make sure that the child is included and that his or her special educational needs are met.

Sometimes it might be agreed that the child has more complex or extreme needs and that it would be a better option for them to attend a special school or other alternative provision.

Children without an education, health and care plan (EHCP)

If a decision is made not to issue an education health and care plan, we will make sure that all the information collected through the assessment is available to parents or carers and the child’s school or setting. This can be used for the school to develop a support plan in order to meet their needs at special educational needs (SEN) support levels.

The child's special educational needs (SEN) casework officer will contact parents or carers to tell them the decision and explain exactly what this means. They will also contact the child’s school to let them know the decision and signpost them to any further support that may be helpful such as the local SEND hub.

Reviewing the plan

Once the final plan has been issued, this will be reviewed at least once a year at an annual review (or at an interim review if there is a more immediate need). From Year 9 onwards this review must include consideration of your child’s developing independence needs as part of their preparation for adulthood.

Useful links

The Department for Education has produced a SEND guide for parents and carers, which includes the local offer.

You can also view a list of establishments approved for educational purposes by the secretary of state, also known as Section 41.