Education Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessments and the EHC Plan

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The EHCNA (Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment)

An EHC Plan is a legal document that describes a child or young person's special educational, health, and social care needs.

To reach an agreement that an EHC Plan is necessary an Education, Health, and Care Needs Assessment must take place.

An EHC Needs Assessment may identify that an EHC Plan is needed to help provide and coordinate support for a child or young person.

Not every child with additional needs or a disability will need or be given an EHC Plan.

You CAN still get extra help in school for your child without an EHC Plan and schools have funding to provide this extra support. This is called SEN Support.

This Council for Disabled Children video explains the EHC Assessment and Planning Process to parents and carers. It explains the importance of the views and opinions of young people throughout their assessment and planning the support in their EHC Plan.

What is an EHC Needs Assessment?

The EHC Needs Assessment is a detailed look at:

  • the special educational needs (SEN) of a child or young person
  • the support he or she may need so they can learn

The EHC Needs Assessment helps the local authority find out about and agree if an EHC Plan is needed becuase of the level of needs the child or young person has.

The EHC Needs Assessment brings together information about:

  • what your child can and cannot do
  • the specialist help they need while they are in education or training

It includes information from:

  • you (if you are a child or young person)
  • your child (if you are a parent or carer)
  • early years settings, schools or colleges that you attend or have attended
  • advice and observations from professionals or service providers who work with or if you are a parent, support your child.

A panel will look at the information and use it to understand and then make a decision about:

  • the level of additional support needed
  • if this will need to be provided through an Education, Health and Care Plan
  • if this will come from the high needs funding

Who can help request an EHC Needs Assessment?

Some people may get support from a keyworker, health professional, social worker or the SENCo at their child's school or setting. These people might be:

  • involved in some or all of the assessment process
  • may contribute information and advice
  • BUT will not make the final decisions about the needs assessment or final plan

Hackney SEND Information Advice and Support Programme

Hackney SENDIAGS (SEND Information, Advice, and Guidance Service) can provide some practical help and support which may include help to fill in forms and attending some meetings. They have useful guides, fact sheets, and leaflets and run information workshops and drop-in advice sessions for parents and carers.

Phone: 020 7275 6036 (Advice Line) 07500 066 513 (Service Coordinator)

Independent Supporter Programme Resources

The Independent Supporter program resources are very useful and can be found here.  This support program finished in July 2018 so face-to-face Independent Support is no longer available. 

National specialist SEND organisations

National specialist information organisation provide resources, workshops, webinars, helplines, and more

The EHC Needs Assessment and the 20 week statutory timeline

Stage One Weeks 1-6

An assessment request with any existing evidence is received by Hackney Education's EHC Planning Team. 

The local authority, Hackney Education and it's partners, have up to week 6 to decide whether to undertake the Needs Assessment.

During this first 6 weeks of the application the local authority will look at:

  • all the information included with the request for the EHC Needs Assessment
  • any extra information they have requested and received.

Specialist Information and Advice

If professionals have already been working with your child advice and information might already be available. If it is please include it with the EHC Needs Assessments request. It may help evidence that a Needs Assessment is required and may lead to an EHC Plan being agreed.

Sometimes updated or new advice will be needed.

During this time they may ask parent-carers, the school and other professionals for more information.

The request and evidence are considered by a SEND panel and matched to eligibility guidance criteria.

The parent or young person and the person making the request if this is not the parent or young person are informed of the decision to assess or not assess by SEN team.

After the first 6 weeks they will tell you either:

1. They have decided to go ahead with the EHC Needs Assessment

2. That they have decided a full EHC Needs Assessment is not necessary.

If the local authority think an EHC Needs Assessment is NOT needed they must tell you why. This is called a decision letter. In the letter they will give you information about:

It is important to understand a no to an EHC Plan is not a no to extra support.

If the panel decides it WILL assess then the request will move on to Stage Two.

Stage Two Weeks 7-16

The EHC Planning Team seek further advice from professionals. 
The family, child or young person provide information on their views, wishes and feelings.

Section A and B of the planning document is explained.

Using all the information a working draft document is written and shared at a multi-agency meeting with parents and the child or young person. Comments and suggestions can be made at this meeting and the working draft can be changed to include these. 

A draft plan is produced and sent to those involved including parents and the young person for further comment.

Parents, carers and young people have 15 days to comment on the Draft EHC Plan.

The SEND Panel review all information gathered so far and agree whether the final EHC Plan is needed.

After Week 16 they will tell you:

1. They have decided to go ahead with agreeing the EHC Plan is necessary
2. That an EHC Plan is NOT necessary.

If the local authority think an EHC Plan is not needed they must tell you why.This is called a decision letter.In the letter they will give you information about:

An EHC Needs Assessment may identify that an EHC Plan is needed to help provide and coordinate support for the child or young person.

If an agreement has been made that an EHC Plan IS needed the case will move to Stage Three.

Stage Three Weeks 16-20

During stage 3 the parents and young person identify their preferred nursery, education or skills setting. The EHC Plan Coordinator consults with the setting or settings.

Personal Budgets are discussed if appropriate for example for SEND Transport Assistance. 

The setting is named in section i of the final EHC Plan.

Final comments are received and the final plan is issued.

Support begins to help the child or young person meet their goals.

This is the end of the 20 week timeline for the EHC Needs Assessment, creation and final agreed EHC Plan being issued. 

If there are any disagreements about the final EHC Plan after the 20 week process parents and carers can seek advice from the independent SEND disagreement resolution and mediation service and proceed to SEND Tribunal if these cannot be resolved. 

Mediation and SEND Tribunal

You have a right of appeal within two months if you are not happy with a decision about or the content of the final plan.
You MUST contact the Independent SEND Mediation Service before proceeding to tribunal. You cannot proceed to tribunal without a discussion about mediation. After the discussion a mediation certificate will be issued to evidence to the tribunal you have explored this option.

The exception to the requirement for a mediation certificate is if there is a disagreement about naming a school or setting in Section I of the plan.
You can proceed to tribunal without mediation is the disagreement is a about the naming of an education placement. If you wish you can access SEND mediation if you choose to.

If the young person is over 16 years of age they will need to give consent to mediation and tribunal and their views as well as their needs will determine the reason for the concern being heard at SEND Tribunal.  

The EHC Plan Coordinator

During the EHC Needs Assessment a named EHC Plan Coordinator will work with you and your child or young person to:

  • consider their needs and views
  • agree and plan support
  • identify a setting
  • complete the draft EHC Plan template

They will coordinate meetings and information for the EHC Needs Assessment and if agreed the EHC Plan. 

Who can have an EHC Plan?

Most children and young people with SEND will not need an EHC Plan.

Extra support or SEN Support at their nursery, school or college setting will provide the extra help they need and settings have funding to provide this. 

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 have acquired SEND through illness or an accident.
  • Children or young people who have an existing condition that requires increasing support as they get older.

How is the decision about who can have an EHC Plan made?

When they decide if an EHC Needs Assessment is necessary, the local authority SEND Panel will want to understand what relevant and purposeful actions to; identify, assess and meet the special educational needs (SEN) of the child or young person have already been taken by the school or setting.

The local authority will consider information and evidence that shows:

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

What does an Education Health and Care Plan look like?

At the time of writing each local authority has been asked to create their EHC Plan template with parents and carers and young people.

Hackney has 2 versions of an EHC plan template:

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

These 2 documents and the planning documents help you think about and represent the views of young people. They are available here in the Documents Library.

In the future there may be a national EHC Plan template.

Parents and young people MUST be fully involved in creating the plan. The finished plan should help anyone working with the child understand them now and know where they want to get to.

How do the 13 sections of an EHC Plan relate to the needs of the child or young person?

EHC Plans have 13 sections.

Each section relates to specific information about and aspect of the child's education, health or care needs.

Parents and young people are asked to complete section A and can submit extra 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 support and benefit your child in the short, medium and long term.
F: Special educational provision (support in school for teaching or training).
G: Health provision.
H: Social care provision. (H1 and H2)
I: Placement - The type of school or setting and the name of school or setting.
J: Personal budget arrangements.
K: Advice and information - A list of the information gathered during the EHC Needs Assessment.

Requesting an EHC Needs Assessment?

When a request for an EHC Needs Assessment is made Hackney Educations and it's SEND partners expect the school or setting involved to be able to demonstrate that its actions at SEN Support have been:

  • Purposeful
  • Relevant
  • Sustained

Children and young people who may require an EHC needs assessment will usually have been supported in the setting for some time at the SEN Support level. This allows schools or settings to use their existing resources and funding to support a child or young person. This helps show if their SEN requires resources beyond that which is normally available in a maintained setting.

Funding for schools and settings at SEN Support level includes both:

  • Elements 1 funding
  • Element 2 funding

Element 2 funding provides up to £6000 per school year to meet the child or young person’s special educational needs.

Not all children or young people will require £6000 of interventions and support but the full amount can be used for one student if their needs require it.

Settings, schools or colleges should use this funding to support the child or young person by applying “The Graduated Approach”

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)

Service providers or parents can make a request by filling out one of the EHC Needs Assessment Request forms available from the Documents Library.

EHC Needs Assessments information from schools and partners in health and social care

When making an application schools and settings are expected to clearly demonstrate:

  • What steps have been taken to identify special educational needs.
  • The actions they have taken to meet the child or young person’s needs.
  • Show how they provide access to the curriculum through the normal teaching arrangements including the use of additional professionals support and specialist advice.

Schools or settings need to show evidence of how they have monitored or tracked the child or young person’s progress over a period of time with advice or involvement from external professional.

They should be able to provide evidence of any changes in strategies and approaches as a result of using the Graduated Response cycle:

  • assess
  • plan
  • do
  • review

These should clearly show the impact of the strategies that have already been put in place on the child’s learning and or behaviour.

If this support is still not sufficient the EHC Needs Assessment will be more quickly secured if appropriate evidence and information is provided that show the actions that have already been taken.

Supporting evidence taken into account when requests for education, health and care needs assessments are made could include:

  • Relevant and purposeful intervention at SEN Support.
  • Evidence of the setting’s understanding of the child or young person’s special educational needs including poreson centred planning to date.
  • Documented evidence of provision used to address those needs using for example costed “Provision Maps” that detail what has been put in place already using Elements 1 and 2 funding.
  • Evidence of assessments supported by documentation of termly planning and reviews showing the child or young person’s special educational needs have been understood and appropriate support has be planned and tried.
  • Evidence of involvement, if appropriate, from social care services and or health professionals.

It should also include evidence of:

  • Involvement of parents or carers and the child or young person themselves
  • An agreement showing all concerned have a shared understanding about the support, what it is hoped will be achieved, the difference the support will make.
  • Dates for reviews - these are usually once a term.

Information about Provision Mapping can be be found in the Document's Library

EHC Needs Assessments information from parents, carers and young people

If you are a parent or young person making a request it is a good idea to include:

  • Existing reports and evidence.
  • Examples that support your concerns and reason for the request.

This information can include your opinions and observations and those of your child.

If more good supporting evidence emerges you can add information as the process continues.

Complete the EHC needs assessment request form, add in any supporting evidence.
Send it by email to

By post 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

If you do not hear back from the team saying they have received your request please email or call to check so you know when the 20 week timeline begins for your request.

What if my request is refused?

It is important to realise that a decision to not agree to put an EHC Plan in place is not a no to extra support.

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

Schools have a range of funding and support available for students that can start at minimal help and increase to more intense support which can include advice from external specialist services.

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 decided an EHC plan was not necessary should be clearly explained and sent to you. This is called a decision letter.

If you have not received this letter contact the EHC Planning Team and request it.

You cannot proceed to Mediation or SEND Tribunal if the reason for a refusal to assess or issue and plan is not understood.

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.

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.

A mediation certificate will be issued to evidence you have considered this. 

If you would like to proceed with mediation a 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.

To do this you will need to provide the mediation certificate, the decision letter will also be useful as it will evidence the reason for the tribunal application. 

Annual Reviews - Keeping information about support up to date and relevant

As young people develop and grow their EHC Plan this should change to reflect their current needs. Schools or settings must reviewed the EHC Plans to make sure they continue to describe the right support for the age and stage of the child or young person. 

The EHC Plan must be reviewed 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 both your views, wishes and feelings.

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

Within four weeks of the Annual Review meeting the local authority must decide whether to:

  • keep maintaing or funding the plan as it is
  • make changes
  • cease to maintain it 

You have a right of appeal if the local authority say they wish to to cease (end or finish) the EHC Plan and you do not agree.

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 including higher education
  • gets a job and leaves education (a part time or Saturday job is fine if the education or training is to continue and they still need support)
  • tells their local authority they no longer want their EHC Plan
  • they no longer needs specialist help and the local authority decides that the EHC plan is no longer needed.

You have right of appeal if you disagree with a decision to cease and EHC Plan.

Looking for a copy of a child or young person's EHC Plan?

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

If you do not know who the plan coordinator is contact SEND Business Support who will be able to give you this information.

Phone 0208 820 7000 / option 4

If your young person is over 16 you should get permission from them to be sent their information or they can request the information themselves.


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Page last modified: 10/10/2023