An Education Health Care (EHC) plan is the document which replaces Statements of SEN and Learning Difficulties Assessments for children and young people with special educational needs.

An EHC plan is a legal document that describes a child or young person's special educational, health and social care needs. It explains the extra help that will be given to meet those needs and how that help will support the child or young person to achieve what they want to in their life.

An EHC plan can only be issued after a child or young person has gone through the process of EHC needs assessment. At the end of that process, the Local Authority (also referred as LA or Tri-Borough SEN Service), has to make a decision, either to issue an EHC Plan or not.

Not every child or young person with special educational needs or disability will need or will eventually get an EHC Plan. They are intended for children and young people from birth and up to the age of 25 who need more support than what the school/setting can provide from the SEN Support resources.

EHC plans identify educational, health and social needs and set out the additional support to meet those needs.

Once the LA has assessed the child or young person, they will decide whether an EHC Plan is or not required; however, if the LA refuses to issue an EHC plan, the parent/young person must be informed of the reasons and that they have the right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal.

If an EHC plan is approved, the LA must first issue a draft EHC plan for the parents or young person to consider. Only at this stage will parents/young person be asked to name the type of school/college they want e.g. mainstream or special school and the individual school/college they want to have named in the EHC plan.

The LA will then consult with that school/college about being named in the EHC plan.

As well as the special educational needs and special educational provision of the child/young person, the draft EHC plan should also detail:

  • Health care provision that has been assessed as reasonably required;

  • Social care provision which is being made for the child/young person under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 and any other social care provision that has been assessed as reasonably required.

The young person or the child’s parent/s or carer/s has 15 days from the date stated on the later to request any amendments to the plan to the LA. Your independent supporter or information advice support service coordinator could offer you support to review the draft plan and to request any amendments should you require our services.

The LA will then finalise the EHC plan or, review it should you request any amendments to it (please see additional information about the “draft plan” further below).

The LA will then have the legal duty to arrange the educational provision specified in the EHC plan, that is, to ensure that the provision is delivered.

The local health care provider will have the legal duty to “arrange” the health care provision specified in the EHC plan, that is, to ensure that the provision is delivered.

If the EHC plan specifies social care provision provided under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, the LA will have a legal duty to make that social care provision under that Act (but not any other social care provision in the EHC Plan not resulting from that legislation).

Draft EHC plans

The test which the LA must apply when the EHC needs assessment is based on the evidence gathered and according to the current law (the Children and Families Act 2014 section 37 (1)).

Where the LA is going to issue an EHC plan, the first step is for the LA to send the parent or young person a draft EHC plan. This will allow the parent or young person to consider the contents of the EHC plan. This will include the child/young person’s SEN, health and care needs, the provision to meet each of those needs and the outcomes that should be achieved. It will also record the parent and young person’s aspirations, views and feelings.

What the draft EHC plan must not include is the name of a particular school/college or educational placement or the type of placement i.e. special or mainstream school/ college. This is because the EHC plan must reflect the individual’s needs and the provision to meet those needs and not the resources that the LA has available or which can be offered in a particular placement or type of placement. Special Educational Needs law does not allow an LA to restrict what provision a child or young person receives based on resources – financial or services available. This means that the name of the school/college or the type of placement will appear only in the final plan, not the draft plan.

Along with the draft EHC plan an LA must give notice to the parent or young person that they have 15 days in which to make comments, request any amendments about the EHC Plan, request a meeting with the LA to discuss the draft and their right to request that a particular school or other institution is named in the plan.

Provision- (Section F of EHC Plan):

All special educational needs, outcomes and provision must be specified in an EHC plan. This means that it should be clear, to parents, young people, school/college and LAs, who has to do what, when and how often that should be reviewed. The use of wooly or weasel words should be avoided such as “regular”, “access to” or “opportunities for”.

For example this is not helpful or legally correct:

“regular speech and language therapy input as required”

Instead see this example of the correct legal approach:

“One hour direct individual speech and language therapy session per week with a speech and language therapist with knowledge and experience of the communication profile of children with autism spectrum disorder”

IASS can offer support and advice about your child’s draft plan and can help you to identify areas that should be changed in order to get the best outcomes for your child or the young person.

Once you receive a copy of your draft plan, you normally have 15 days to request any alterations to the Local Authority.

The four underpinning principles on an EHC Plan.

The preparation process and the contents of the EHC plan must reflect the four key statutory principles which require LAs to have regard to:

  1. the views, wishes and feelings of the child and his or her parent, or the young person;

  2. the importance of the child and his or her parent, or the young person, participating as fully as possible in decisions relating to the exercise of the function concerned;

  3. the importance of the child and his or her parent, or the young person, being provided with the information and support necessary to enable participation in those decisions;

  4. the need to support the child and his or her parent, or the young person, in order to facilitate the development of the child or young person and to help him or her achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes.

(Children and Families Act, section 19)

Outcomes:

All special educational needs, outcomes and provision must be specified in an EHC plan. This means that it should be clear, to parents, young people, school/college and LAs, who has to do what, when and how often that should be reviewed. The use of wooly or weasel words should be avoided such as “regular”, “access to” or “opportunities for”.

For example this is not helpful or legally correct:

“regular speech and language therapy input as required”

Instead see this example of the correct legal approach:

“One hour direct individual speech and language therapy session per week with a speech and language therapist with knowledge and experience of the communication profile of children with autism spectrum disorder”

Your Independent Supporter can offer support and advice about your child’s draft plan and can help you to identify areas that should be altered or modified in order to achieve the best outcomes for your child or the young person.

Once you receive a copy of your draft plan, you normally have 15 days to request any alterations to the Local Authority.

How to write a good EHC Plan.

The Council for Disabled Children (CDC) have recently developed a resource to help practitioners write good quality EHC plans that meet both the letter and the spirit of the Children and Families Act 2014. For further details, please have a look at the following link. The first part includes excerpts from real EHC plans, the second part has two EHC plans which draw on real examples (although the plans themselves relate to fictional children):