What is an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan? | Oxfordshire County Council

What is an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan?

EHC assessment and plans, how we use person centred planning and where to find out more.

Education Health and Care (EHC) plans

Most children and young people have their needs met in a mainstream school or setting through SEN support.  Some children, usually those with the most complex or severe needs who are not making progress despite individualised support, may benefit from an Education, Health and Care needs assessment to decide if we need to set out the support that will help them to achieve the best outcomes. 

The Education Health and Care plan is the written record of the support that is agreed, along with details of the child or young person’s needs and the outcomes that he/she is working towards.  Oxfordshire uses this template for EHC plans (doc format, 282Kb).

Information about EHC plans can be found in Chapter nine of the SEN Code of Practice 2014. The government have produced a guide to SEN and disability for parents and carers

You can find out more about the assessment and planning for an EHC plan in Oxfordshire in this animation.

EHC plan



This animation explains how a child or young person can get the support and help they need through an Education, Health and Care Plan or an EHC Plan for short. This EHC Plan allows children and young people to get the most out of their life. Children and young people with an EHC plan will normally have very complex needs which require complex arrangements.

Other children and young people may find that they do not need an EHC Plan, but can access all the help and support locally, from other services offered by the County Council, the health services, schools, groups, organisations and charities. These services are described in the Local Offer.

In England, Statements of Special Educational Needs and Learning Difficulty Assessments have now been replaced by the Education, Health and Care plan.

An Education, Health and Care plan, will cover children and young people from birth to 25, who are receiving education or training.  It will allow for a greater focus on personal goals, increased family involvement and improved rights and protections for young people in further education and training.

We describe the journey for an EHC Plan as an Education, Health and Care Plan Pathway.

We use a lollipop model to explain the six stages of the pathway. This animation explains what each of these stages means to children and young people and their families.

Not every family will progress from stage one through to stage six. For the majority of families it will not be necessary to progress beyond stage one in order to access the right type of support and help for the child or young person.

Stage one: the local offer

Families, children and young people may require additional help and support.

Stage one introduces the family to a package of support and help in their local area.  It could be a service that is ordinarily available, a charity which provides advice and help, or a local support group of other families who meet regularly to share ideas. The local offer can be accessed on Oxfordshire County Council’s website and it describes services available to families, children and young people.

The majority of children and young people will have their needs met through the local offer at stage one. They will not need to move on to stage 2. An Education Health and Care plan will not be necessary.

Stage two: The application

When the family believes that their child’s needs are so complex and complex arrangements are required or highly specialist support is required, it’s time to move on to stage 2. In most cases, it is likely that school or care staff working with a family will submit an application on their behalf or a family may make a direct application.

In the application the child or young person and their family will be asked to describe their story in an “All About Me” document. This gives an opportunity to describe the strengths, challenges, likes, dislikes and ambitions of the child or young person.

The young person and the family are also asked to think about what is working well and what could be made better, if support and resources were organised differently.

A lead professional can support a family   make an application and independent advice and guidance is also available   through Independent Supporters.

Stage 3:  Checking the application

When an application is submitted it will be looked at by a multi-agency team which is a group of people from Education, Health and Care services. The multi-agency team will acknowledge the application.

The team will look carefully at the application and decide what is available through the local offer and whether the child or young person is eligible for an EHC plan. If there is a more appropriate way of supporting the child or young person it may not be necessary to progress with the application at this stage.

If an EHC Plan is appropriate, then stage 4 of the pathway will automatically begin. If it is considered that an EHC Plan is not needed   the family will be sign -posted to alternative sources of support.  A member of the team will contact the family to explain what will happen next.

In some cases, professionals will be asked to provide additional information about the child or young person’s needs.

Advice and guidance will be available to the family whatever decision is made.

Stage 4: My Plan

Stage 4 introduces the EHC Plan. This document is produced by a team, with the child or young person at the centre. The family and professionals will co-produce the Plan. The content of the Plan will be discussed at a multi-agency meeting. Parents and the young person will be invited to attend this meeting and contribute to the wording in the Plan. The plan sets out the child or young person’s aspirations and how key outcomes will be achieved.

An option for a personal budget will be discussed at this stage.  The family may choose to manage some of the funding themselves in order to best access the support that the child or young person needs.

Following the meeting a draft EHC Plan will be produced and sent to the family and young person to check whether they are happy with it.

The family will be asked to confirm where they would like the child or young person to be educated. The council will then check with the setting, school or college to ensure that they are able to support the child or young person appropriately.

Stage 5: My Life

At this stage the Plan has been finalised, the resources have been agreed and the family and their supporters are now ready to put the Plan into action.  The resources aim to provide greater choice and control to enable the child or young person to work towards achieving the shared outcomes which have been agreed.

Stage 6: My Review

At least once a year, the family and professionals will be asked to review the EHC plan. A regular review keeps the child or young person’s plan up to date and relevant.

Person centred planning

Gathering the views, interests and ambitions of the child or young person should be at the heart of everything we do with children with SEN and disabilities.

This is called person centred planning. Oxfordshire Family Support Network have produced a guide about person centred planning for parents. Filling in the All about me section in an EHCP plan.

Getting help and advice

SENDIASS Oxfordshire can give help and advice before applying or at any stage in the process, and independent supporters are available to help you throughout.

SENDIASS Oxfordshire has produced a helpful Education Health and Care plan guide (pdf format, 78Kb) for parents.

You can contact your local SEN team and asking to speak with the SEN case worker team in your area.

You can find out about what to do if you disagree with decisions about EHC assessments and plans.

Last reviewed
05 January 2017
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