SENDIAS - Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans

An Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) is a legal document which describes a child or young person’s special educational needs, the support they need, and the outcomes they would like to achieve as they progress to adulthood. An EHCP can only be issued after a child or young person has gone through the process of an Education, Health and Care needs assessment.

This video from the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) is helpful introduction to EHCPs

 Below are some commonly asked questions about the EHC needs assessments and plans. 

What is an EHC needs assessment and when should I ask for one? 

An Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment is an assessment of a child or young person’s education, health and care needs. It is the first step to getting an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP). An EHCP can result in additional support and funding for a child or young person with special educational needs. If you think you or your child needs more help than the school can provide, you can ask the local authority an EHC needs assessment. You do not have to prove that an EHC plan is definitely necessary for the local authority to start an assessment, you just have to show it may be necessary.

Who can apply for an assessment?

You can ask your local authority for an EHC needs assessment if you think that you or your child needs one (the section below explains how you can do this). Alternatively, anyone at your child’s early years setting, school or college; for example a teacher, can also ask for an assessment to be carried out. Others who work with your child can also tell the local authority if they think an assessment is needed (such as your doctor, health visitor or nursery worker).

How do I apply for an EHC Needs Assessment?

Normally a school would bring a child or young person to the local authorities attention, if they think the child has or may have SEN and an EHC needs assessment may be necessary. If you think that your child may benefit from an EHCP try speaking with the school SENCO to see if they have enough evidence to apply for a EHC Needs Assessment. 

If you would like to applying for the EHC needs assessment yourself you can apply by completing the relevant following letter

Are you a Parent/ Carer? - sample letter parent and carer

Are you a Young Person? - sample letter young person.

Once completed, please send to

What happens when the local authority receives the request for an assessment?

On receipt of the application the local authority have 6 weeks to decide whether they are going to undertake an EHC needs assessment. During that time, they will ask you and others such as your child’s school or other setting  for information to help them make that decision. They must look at the evidence and consider:

  • whether the child or young person has or may have special educational needs (SEN); and
  • whether they may need special educational provision to be made through an EHC plan.

If the answer to both of these questions is yes, they must carry out an EHC needs assessment.

If the local authority decides not to carry out an assessment, they need to let you know their decision within 6 weeks of receiving a request for an assessment. 

Conducting an EHC needs assessment?

The local authority will complete  the assessment (often called a 'statutory assessment'). This involves gathering information (called ‘advice’) from people who work with your child, such as class teachers, doctors and educational psychologists. The assessment includes talking to you and your child and finding out from you what support you think is needed to meet the aspirations you and your child have for the future.

Once all of the information from the EHC needs assessment has been collected, the local authority will review the evidence and decide whether it is necessary for the child or young person to have an EHC plan. At the end of the assessment the local authority will write to you to tell you whether they intend to issue an EHCP.  If they decide that an EHC plan is not needed, they must tell you within 16 weeks of the date they received a request for an assessment. You have the right to challenge the decision. Doncaster SENDIAS can explain this process to you further. See our page on challenging decisions.

Preparing an EHCP?

If the local authority has decided to proceed with an EHC plan, they should work closely with you and your child to make sure the plan takes full account of your views, wishes and feelings. 

The EHCP is prepared in two stages.

Stage 1 Draft Plan

The local authority will consult with you and write a 'draft' EHCP which will be sent to you to review. You will be given 15 days to comment on the draft and you can ask for a meeting to discuss the contents if you want one. The draft EHCP does not detail where a child or young person will go to school or college - this information is included in the final plan

Stage 2 Final Plan

Once you have agreed the contents of the ‘draft plan’ - the local authority will 'finalise' the plan and it becomes a legal document. The local authority must to ensure that the special educational support in section F of the plan is provided, and the health service has to ensure the health support in section G is provided. The final plan should help you or your child to meet the identified and agreed outcomes that you have jointly identified and agreed. 

What you can do if you disagree with the local authority’s decisions?

If you disagree with your local authority’s decisions on:
  • not proceeding with an EHC needs assessment
  • not producing an EHC plan, or
  • the special educational support that is included in the EHC plan.
Then you have the right to challenge it. 

Doncaster SENDIAS can explain this process to you further, see our page on challenging decisions.

The local authority must work to certain time frames in order to comply with the law when they are dealing with requests for EHC needs assessment and EHC plans. You can find out more about these 'Statutory timescales' on the document below.

Our EHCP flowchart shows the time scales for the whole process and what should happen at each stage.


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Last updated: 02 June 2021 12:07:38

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