Education, Health and Care Plan

An Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) is for children and young people 0 - 25 who need more help than is normally available through special educational needs support (SEN Support) in an education or training setting.   

Find out about requesting an EHC Plan, the assessment process and resolving disagreements.

Nurseries, schools and colleges should identify and support children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).  

Children and young people in mainstream settings may be supported from within the school or setting’s own resources. This means they receive special educational provision (additional help or support), but they do not have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan). This additional support is called SEN Support (pdf, 128kb).  

If your child is receiving SEN Support, the school should draw up an SEN support plan, sometimes this is called an IEP (Individual Education Plan). They should involve you and your child, focusing on the outcomes your child needs and wants to achieve and detailing how the school will help them to achieve these outcomes.

The SEND Code of Practice says that schools should use a 'graduated approach', or four-part cycle (Assess, Plan, Do and, Review) to support a child with SEND. This means that the school's SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) and teaching staff should:  

  • Analyse your child's difficulties.  

  • Identify the extra support your child needs. The school can ask specialist support services, for example, educational psychology (EP),  or speech and language therapy (SALT) to carry out assessments and provide support if necessary.   

  • Put the support in place.

  • Regularly check how well it is working so that they can change the amount or kind of support if they need to. Parents and carers should be involved in regular reviews.

Where, despite the educational setting having taken action to identify and meet the child or young person's needs, expected progress is still not being made, the educational setting should consider requesting an Education, Health and Care needs assessment. If the educational setting can show that the child or young person has or may have SEN, and that they may need support through an EHC Plan (because the school cannot provide the support they need), the local authority (LA) must agree to carry out an EHC needs assessment. (The parents/carers or young person are also entitled to make an EHC assessment request.)   

An EHC Plan (Education, Health and Care Plan) is a legally binding document that identifies educational, health and social care needs and sets out the additional support to be provided in order to meet those needs.  

An EHC Plan can only be issued after a child or young person has gone through the process of an EHC needs assessment.  

It’s prepared in partnership with parents/carers and young people, professionals working across education, health and social care specialist services.    

The special educational provision described in an EHC Plan must be provided by the child or young person’s local authority (LA). The EHC Plan also provides families with a wider choice of options about which school or other setting the child or young person can attend. The EHC Plan is reviewed annually.    

EHC Plans are focused on:  

  • Achieving outcomes  

  • Helping children and young people into school and through school  

  • Preparing young people for adulthood

Click the following link to watch a video explaining: What is an EHCP (education, health and care plan) and who is it for? 

The first step to getting an EHC Plan is to make a request for an Education, Health and Care needs assessment. 

If a local authority (“LA”) is requested to carry out an EHC needs assessment by a parent, young person, school or college, they must 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.  

You can ask Southwark Council to carry out an assessment if you think your child needs an EHC Plan.  

A young person can request an assessment themselves if they’re aged 16 to 25.   

A request can also be made by anyone else who thinks an assessment may be necessary, including doctors, health visitors, social workers and schools.  

The Local Authority will tell you in writing within 6 weeks of making the request if the evidence suggests that an EHC assessment is necessary. 

Find out more information on how to apply for an EHC Needs Assessment. 

The first step to getting an EHC Plan is to make a request for an Education, Health and Care needs assessment. A request can be made by parents/carers, or young people themselves if aged between 16-25.

Anyone else who thinks an assessment may be necessary, including doctors, health visitors, social workers and schools can also make the request.

Click here for more information on making the request as parent/carer or young person. 

Click the heading below titled 'Information for Schools and other settings' for information on how schools can make the request.

You can get help with this from the SIAS team by dropping in to see us, emailing or calling 0207 525 3104.  

You can appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) if you are unhappy with a decision made in relation to an EHC needs assessment or an EHC Plan. There are no fees for parents or young people to pay. The SENDIST  has the power to order LAs to carry out EHC needs assessments, issue EHC Plans, and amend existing EHC Plans. LAs must comply with orders made by the SEND Tribunal. 

Before bringing an appeal to SENDIST for some disputes including a refusal to  assess or issue an EHC Plan, you must consider mediation, however, it is not compulsory. Mediation is a less formal way of trying to settle disagreements between you and the LA. This involves attending a meeting with the LA and an independent mediator, who will try and help you reach an agreements on the points of disagreement. Mediation can also be attended by relevant individuals from an education setting, health and social care. 

You have 2 months to submit your appeal from the date on your decision letter from the council. Find out more on how to appeal.  

When a setting wishes to request an EHC needs assessment it can do so by completing an EHCP Settings Request form (doc, 105kb).  A completed Ready Reckoner (xls, 606kb) will also need to be submitted with your request. 

You can find details of the EHC needs assessment criteria here (pdf, 298kb)

The Panel terms of Reference (docx, 38kb) explains how the SEND panel operates and how it is involved in the decision-making process.