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Requesting an education, health and care needs assessment

What is an education, health and care plan and how to ask to be assessed for one.

What is an education, health and care plan?

  • Local Offer - Oxfordshire logo

    An education, health and care (EHC) plan is a legal document. It sets out the special educational needs of a child or young person with SEND. And it sets out the provisions that should be put in place. The local authority is responsible for ensuring those provisions are carried out. 

    Most children or young people with SEND will not need an EHC plan. 

EHC plans are for children and young people with SEND who need more support than their school or college can give them at SEN support. 

What is included in an EHC plan?

For a child or young person with an education, health and care plan, it will say:

  • what things they need support with
  • what education support they will get to help them to learn
  • what health support they may need
  • what social care support they may need
  • what things they want to do in the future.

This is the EHC plan used in Oxfordshire (pdf format, 198Kb)

EHC needs assessment

Before a child or young person can have an EHC plan, they must have an EHC needs assessment. The assessment will decide if they need support via an EHC plan.

Not every EHC needs assessment will result in an EHC plan.

Other ways to get support

The EHC needs assessment may show that the child or young person does not need support through an EHC plan. There is a lot of support available through the local offer.

The local offer includes services provided by:

  • the county council
  • the health services
  • schools
  • groups
  • organisations and charities.

EHC needs assessment process in Oxfordshire

This EHC needs assessment video shows how the process works in Oxfordshire.

Transcript of video


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 to 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 signposted 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.