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Most young people will already receive a wide range of support for special educational needs, through their setting, school or college.  An education, health and care (EHC) plan is a document which sets out any additional support identified to cater for special education needs identified through the EHC needs assessment.

Who is it for?

For children and young people with a special educational need or disability that can't be met with the usual support available in a school or college.

You can have a plan until the age of 25 while they remain in further education. If it's agreed at an annual review, that a plan is no longer necessary, it can stop before 25.

How do I get a plan?

If you think your child has special educational needs or disabilities and needs extra support, speak to their teacher or Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo).

They can talk to you about beginning the support, which will set out areas of need and the support required. A request for an assessment can be made by a parent or the young person if aged 16-25.

When we consider if an assessment is needed, your child or young person's needs will be assessed by education, health and social care professionals.

A request can be done together with your child’s school, a doctor, health visitor or nursery worker.

This flow chart shows the time scales on your journey to apply for an assessment.

What happens next?

After a request is made, we decide within 6 weeks whether or not to carry out the assessment. If the assessment shows a need for an EHC plan, this will be produced within 20 weeks of the request.

To create a plan, professionals from education, health and care will work with the parents and the child to consider what outcomes are desired and what is needed to achieve them. A draft copy of the plan will be sent to you to consider and suggest changes. You will have 15 days to request changes. The school or setting named on the EHC plan will also be consulted and has 15 days to respond.

What happens if my request is refused?

If we decide not to complete the assessment, we'll inform you within 6 weeks.

If after the assessment, it's decided not to issue an EHC plan, we must inform you within 16 weeks of the first request.

If you're not happy with either of these decisions then you'll have 2 months to consider mediation and make an appeal to a tribunal.

Young people without an EHC plan will still receive the support they need in their mainstream nursery, school or college where funding is allocated to the setting to support children and young people with SEND.

Changing your Statement to an EHC Plan (Transition)

Since 1st September 2014 changes have been taking place for

  • Children with statements of special educational needs; and
  • Young people with Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDA).

These children and young people will be going through a process referred to as “Transition” which involves changing from their statements and LDAs to EHC plans within the new legal framework under the Children and Families Act 2014.

Completing the transition process is a duty on the Local Authority (“LA”) where the child or young person lives. The LA must have completed this process for children with statements by 1st  April 2018.

For young people with LDAs, the transition process must have been completed by 1 September 2016 as any LDAs remaining after this date will cease to have any legal effect.

The  group, independent parent special education advice IPSEA has up to date and comprehensive information on Transition, including timeline resources which you can find on their website.

You can find out more about transition process, from our policy documents.


EHC plans have the same legal protection as the previous Statements of SEN and you also have the right to ask for independent support during the process. It should be developed together with the family, parents/carers and all professionals involved with the child or young person.

With support from DfE, Independent Support has produced animations to help explain the EHCP process and its important relationship with the Person Centred Connection. Watch it here.

Children without EHCPs may make an application
for a school under a medical or social rule, often referred to as Rule 2 if the school(s) applied for includes such a rule in its oversubscription criteria.