Education, health and care (EHC) plans and assessments
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 EHC plan is the written record of:
- the support that is agreed
- 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 (pdf format, 198Kb).
Rights of young people
Young people have the right to make their own decisions from the age of 16, although parents and other family members can give support or act on their behalf with the young person’s agreement.
Up until the age of 18 schools and colleges will usually still involve parents particularly where there are concerns about attendance, behaviour or welfare.
How to find out more
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.
SENDIASS Oxfordshire has produced a helpful Education Health and Care plan guide (pdf format, 78Kb) for parents.
You can find out more about the assessment and planning for an EHC plan in Oxfordshire in this animation.
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In England, Statements of Special Educational Needs and Learning Difficulty Assessments have now been replaced by the education, health and care plan.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.
Frequently asked questions
Which local authority is responsible for my child's EHC plan?
The local authority where the child normally lives, also sometimes called the ‘home authority’, is responsible for the child or young person. An Oxfordshire child will have an Oxfordshire EHC plan.
Who should make the request for an EHC plan, the parent or the professional?
A child or young person’s school or setting can make a request, as can a parent. Under the new law, a young person (16-25) can also make a request themselves.
In making its decision about whether a child or young person needs an EHC Needs assessment the local authority has to look at what support has already been provided and whether there has been any progress. If a school or setting makes the request, they will able to provide evidence of support, attainment and rate of progress.
Can I disagree with decisions being made in EHC assessments and plan?
You can find out about what to do if you disagree with decisions about EHC assessments and plans.
Is an EHC plan a legal document? Which sections are legally binding?
The EHC Plan is a legal document, and the local authority must secure the special educational provision and placement specified in the EHC Plan.
Can I appeal against the final plan?
If you or your young person are not happy with the finalised EHC plan and are unable to reach agreement with the local authority, you can appeal against some parts of it to the SEN and Disability Tribunal.
You can appeal against:
- Part B, which describes the child or young person’s SEN,
- Part F which specifies the provision necessary to meet each and very need described in Part B
- or Part I, which names the school or setting the child or young person will attend.
From April 2018 the Single Route of Redress National Trial (123Kb) gives you new rights to request recommendations around the health and social care needs and provision specified in the EHC Plan, in addition to the educational aspects when making a SEND appeal. This gives you the opportunity to raise all your concerns regarding the EHC Plan in one place, at the same time. You can find out about what to do if your disagree with decisions about EHC assessments and plans.
Will I receive a copy of the completed EHC plan to read and agree before it is finalised?
Unlike statements, the EHC plan will be written at a meeting where you as parents, your child or young person, if they are able, will work together with professionals to decide what information on strengths, needs, provision and outcomes should be included in the EHC plan. Your and your child’s views will be at the centre of the process so you will have a much clearer idea of what your child’s EHC plan will look like.
After the meeting, the SEN officer will pull together the information and the outcomes that were decided at the meeting and include those in a draft EHC plan. This will be sent to you, or your young person if they are over 16 and able to make decisions for themselves, to read and to agree. You will be given 15 days to get back to the local authority about the content of the EHC plan.
You will also be asked to fill in the name of the particular setting, school or college that you would like to be named in Part I.
Once the EHC plan is finalised, you, or your young person if they are over 16 and able to make decisions for themselves, will receive a copy, with a letter explaining what you can do if you are not happy with the finalised plan.
What if there is a change of need after the EHC plan been set up?
There is a review process for an EHC plan. It will be reviewed every year as part of the Annual Review Process. For children 0 - 5 the local authority should consider reviewing the EHC plan every three to six months as a young child can change so much in a short time. In Oxfordshire this is achieved through the termly reviews of the SEN Support Outcomes Plan.
If there is a sudden change in a child or young person’s learning needs, you could request an interim review of your child’s EHC plan.
If there are specific changes to a child’s health or circumstances that mean the health or social provision need changing, the EHC plan can be amended without a full review or re-assessment.
What happens if child can’t give their views during the EHC plan needs assessment? Is this taken into consideration?
Your child or young person is at the centre of this process so their views and hopes for the future are very important and hopefully with support many of them will be able to express their views.
Obviously for some children or young people expressing their wishes themselves isn’t possible, but there are other ways of including their views, their dislikes. You and their brothers or sisters know them best and can fill in the ‘All About Me’ and help others understand what they need.
There may be options to include videos or make a wiki which show what is important for your child or young person.
What is person-centred planning and 'All about me'
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 EHC plan.
Will my information be kept safe?
Our privacy notice (pdf format, 204kb) is designed to explain how and why information about you will be used and stored by us.
Help and information
Impartial free advice and support - education
The special educational needs and disability information advice and support service (SENDIASS) offers impartial information, advice and support to parents of children and young people with SEN and disabilities regarding their education. You can get in touch by completing this online form.
The service aims to help parents, carers, young people and educational professionals to work together to provide the best possible support to children and young people with special educational needs, by:
- offering advice and training
- providing Independent parental supporters and independent supporters
- linking with other organisations who can offer help and support.
Finding support for parents/carers on your doorstep
Search for organisations and groups to support parents and carers of disabled children and young people and those with SEN and additional needs.
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