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Education Health and Care Assessments and Plans (EHCPs) - frequently asked questions

Before an agreement is reach that an EHC Plan is necessary an Education, Health and Care needs assessment must take place.

Not every child with additional needs will be given or need an Education Health and Care Plan.

Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) are legal documents that describe a child or young person's special educational, health and social care needs.

They explain the extra help that will be given to meet those needs and explain how the help will support a child or young person to achieve what they want to in their life.

EHC plans can be issued to a child or young person between the ages of 0 and 25 years although this will not be the case for all young people with SEND and will depend on their assessed need. 

EHC Plans are reviewed annually. 

Parents/carers can find out more about the EHC process and how to include the child or young person's views and opinions throughout their plan.

The Council for Disabled Children have made this video that explains more.

Below are some frequently asked questions and answers.

Page last updated: 03/06/19

Education, Health and Care - needs assessments

Not every child with additional needs will be given or require an Education Health and Care Plan. Before an agreement is reach that an EHC Plan is necessary an Education, Health and Care needs assessment must take place to identify the needs of the individual.

An EHC needs assessment is a detailed look at the special educational needs (SEN) of a child or young person and the support he or she may need in order to learn.

The needs assessment brings together information about:

  • what your child can and cannot do
  • the special help they need.

It includes information from:

  • you (if you are a child or young person)
  • your child (if you are a parent or carer)
  • the early years’ setting or school
  • other professionals who work with or support your child.

The local authority has up to six weeks to decide whether to make a needs assessment.

During this time it may ask you, the school and other professionals for information.

Sometimes advice and information is already available because other professionals have been working with your child. Sometimes new advice will need to be requested.

During the first six weeks after the application the local authority will look at all the information and then tell you whether it has decided to go ahead with the EHC needs assessment OR that an EHC needs assessment is not necessary.

If the local authority think an EHC Needs Assessment is not needed they must tell you why and give you information about:

  • your right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal and the time limit for appealing
  • independent disagreement resolution and mediation EHC needs assessment for children in early years settings or at school.
  • how to get further information, advice or support.

An EHC Assessment may identify that an EHC Plan is needed.

What is an Education, Health and Care plan?

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.

It should:

  • State the views, interests and aspirations (wishes) of the parents and child or young person
  • Describe the child or young person’s special educational needs and any health and social care needs
  • Specify the provision required to meet those needs
  • State how services will work together to meet the child or young person’s needs and support the achievement of the agreed outcomes that have been agreed together.
  • The plan should have short, medium and long term outcomes.

What does an Education Health and Care Plan look like?

You can find Hackney's EHC plan template in the Documents Library.

If you are a professional working with a family, child or young person and you feel an application for an EHC plan is needed you can find more information on the following page. Parents and carers may view this information too if they wish.

Resources page for SENCOs, SEND professionals and others

You will be given the EHC plan paperwork if your assessment request is accepted.

Local authorities can develop their version of an EHC plan locally.

Hackney's EHC planning team have worked with parents and reviewed the origional Hackney Plan Template. Changes have been made in reponse to parents views. 

Hackney now has 2 versions of an EHC plan.

  •  0 - 13 year old's template 
  • 14 - 19+ year old's template 

There are 13 required sections of an EHC Plan.

Each section relates to specific information from specific services or people.

Parents and young people are involved throughout and asked to fill out section A and can submit additional information in section K.  

A: The views, interests and aspirations (wishes) of your child.
B: Special educational needs (SEN).
C: Health needs related to SEN.
D: Social care needs related to SEN.
E: Outcomes (goals) - how the extra help will benefit your child
F: Special educational provision (support).
G: Health provision.
H: Social care provision. (H1 and H2)
I: Placement - type and name of school or other institution.
J: Personal budget arrangements.
K: Advice and information - a list of the information gathered during the EHC needs assessment.  

Who can get an EHC plan?

Most children and young people with special educational needs/disability (SEND) will not need an EHC plan. SEN Support at their nursery, school or college setting will provide the extra help they need.

A small number of children or young people will need more support than is normally available in a mainstream setting.

These people may need an EHC plan:

  • Children who despite additional support continue to make significantly less than expected progress at school and SEND is thought to be the cause.  
  • Young people aged 19 - 25 who because of SEND need more time to finish their education or training.
  • Children or young people who has acquired SEND through illness or an accident 
  • Children or young people who have an existing condition that requires increasing support as they get older.

When they decide if an EHC needs assessment is necessary, the local authority also considers whether relevant and purposeful actions to identify, assess and meet the special educational needs (SEN) of the child or young person have already been taken.

The local authority will consider information and evidence that shows:

  • The child or young person’s academic attainment / developmental milestones / rate of progress is less than expected.   
  • The nature of the child/young person’s difficulties
  • How significant these difficulties are
  • Actions already taken to support the child or young person.
  • That progress has only been made as the result of additional intervention and support over and above that which is usually provided for other children/young people of a similar age.

Professionals working with families, children or young person who feel an application for an EHC needs assessment to see if an EHC plan is needed, can find relevant guidance and forms in the documents library available from the top of every page of this website. 

How can I request an EHC plan?

Parents/carers, young people or professionals working with families can make a request by filling out one of the EHC Needs Assessment forms from this page: Documents Library

It is a good idea to include existing reports and evidence or examples that support your concerns and reason for the request.

These should also include your opinions and observations and those of your child which can be added to as the process continues.  

The following people have the right to ask a local authority to conduct an education, health and care needs assessment:

  • A child or young person’s parent
  • A young person aged 16 - 24
  • A person acting on behalf of a school or post-16 institution (with the knowledge and agreement of the parent or young person where possible)

What can I do next?

Complete the EHC needs assessment request form, add in any supporting evidence and send or drop it off to:

Education, Health and Care Planning Team.  

1 Reading Lane



E8 1GQ

Phone: 0208 820 7000 / option 4

Web: Education, Health and Care Planning Team

Note: If you do not hear back from the team saying they have received your request please call to check they have received it. 

What happens once my request is received?

You will need to give specific information on what is important and helpful to your child.

The video at the top of this page will explain more about the process and you can find helpful information in the following articles. 

This document helps parents/carers and young people understand what happens when. 

There are three times throughout the process where the request will go to a panel who will review the information and decide if it should proceed to the next stage.

Education Health and Care 20 week assessment process

Stage One: weeks 0-6

  • An assessment request is received by HLT with any existing evidence.
  • The request and evidence are considered by a SEN panel and matched to eligibility criteria.
  • A decision is reached about whether to assess or not.
  • Parents or Young person informed of decision by SEN team.

NO means there is a right of appeal. See mediation appeals. YES proceed to stage two.

Stage Two: weeks 7-16

  • SEN team seek further advice from professionals
  • Family Child or Young person are helped to discuss and prepare their views, wishes and feelings and section A and B of the plan explained.
  • Using all the information gathered a working draft plan is produced and shared and developed at a multi-agency meeting with parents and child or young person.
  • Draft produced and sent for comment.
  • SEN Panel review all information gathered so far and agree whether a plan is appropriate.
  • Parents or Young person informed of decision by SEN team.

NO EHC Plan agreed - then right of appeal exists. See mediation and appeals.

YES - proceed to stage Three.

Stage Three: weeks 16-20

  • Parents name preferred nursery, education or skills setting who are then consulted.
  • Personal Budgets discussed if appropriate.
  • Final Plan issued
  • Support put in place if happy.

You have a right of appeal within two months if you are not not happy with a decision of the final plan.

Find out more: 

What is Mediation?

What is a Tribunal?

Who can help me with requesting an EHC plan?

There are a range of people who can help you with an EHC plan request. Some people may also be able to have support from a keyworker, health professional, social worker or the SENCo at their child's school or setting. 

Information, advice and Support services are available in each borough. Hackney SENDIAGS (SEND Information, Advice and Guidance Service) can provide some practical help and support which may include helping fill in forms and attending meeting. They have lots of useful guides, factsheets and leaflets available from the highlighted link above.

Hackney's Education, Health and Care Planning Team may be able to offer advice. 

During the implementation of the new system the Council for Disabled Children ran an Independent Supporter programme that ended in July 2018. You can find videos and resources available through this programme here: Independent Support Programme - September 2014 - July 2018

National organisation can also advise parents/carers on how to apply for EHC Plans but often are not able to offer practical support. 

How will I know what is in my child or young person's EHC Plan is right as they get older?

The local authority must review the EHC plan at least once every 12 months. This

must be done in partnership with you and your child or the young person, and must

take account of your views, wishes and feelings.

The local authority must decide whether to keep the plan as it is, make changes, or

cease to maintain it within four weeks of the review meeting. You have a right of

appeal if the local authority proposes to cease the EHC plan.

The Council for Disabled Children have made an animated videos that explains more about the annual review process. 

For some young people an EHC plan will continue until they are 25. However, the plan

will stop if the young person:

  • goes to university
  • gets a job
  • tells their local authority they no longer want their EHC plan, or
  • no longer needs special help and the local authority decides that the EHC plan

should cease.

What happens if I don’t get an Education Health and Care Plan?

It is important to realise that a "NO" to and EHC plan is not a no to support.

Schools have a range of funding and support available for students that can start at minimal help and increase to more intense support.

Find out more: 

Hackney's SEN Funding for schools

What does the local authority / Hackney Learning Trust expect schools and other education settings to do?

SEN support in mainstream schools

Most children and young people have their needs met within local mainstream settings and do not have an EHC plan.

The reason the local authority didn’t feel an EHC plan was necessary should be clearly stated in writing.

You must request this if they have not provided you with a letter as you cannot proceed to mediation and tribunal without a decision letter. 

The first point it could be a NO is at the 6 week assessment stage.

The second possible NO is at the 16 week stage.

After an assessment has taken place, copies of any assessment reports should be sent to you as these may help you and the school understand and meet your child or young person's needs more effectively.

You have a right of appeal if you disagree with the reason this decision was made.

Mediation must be consider by you as part of the changes to the law. 

Mediation in Hackney is provided by KIDS.

A certificate will be issued to evidence you have considered this and a mediation session can be arranged to try to reach an agreement.

If you decide mediation is not for you, you can proceed to SEND tribunal to have the decision reviewed at a higher level but in order to do this you will need a mediation certificate which will be issued by the mediation service after they have spoken to you.

Where can I find documents related to this information?

Looking for templates, guides and policies?

Now that services are working more closely together is can sometimes be hard to know where to best share documents on the website so they can be easily found. 

We have spoken to parents and professionals about this and have created a Documents Library for key information about processes. Specific services may still have documents relevant to their service in their service's entry in the directory. 

The Council for Disabled Children Independent Support programme

During the implementation of the SEND reforms The Council for Disabled Children ran an Independent Support programme. This has now ended however useful resources developed during the programme are still available. 

Find out more: Independent Support Programme - September 2014 - July 2018

Looking for information about your child? 

If you are looking for information directly related to your child or young person and their EHC Plan please contact their plan coordinator. 

Find out more: Education, Health and Care Planning Team

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