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Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)

What is an EHCP?

EHCP stands for Education, Health and Care Plan. In order to have an EHCP the child always needs to have special educational needs. They don’t need to have health and social care needs but if they do these should be included in the EHCP.

An EHCP sets out what a child needs to have in place in order to be supported, included and achieve their full potential in school. It makes it clear what the school’s responsibilities are and once it’s been agreed it is a legally binding document. If you are applying for a specialist rather than a mainstream setting you need to have an EHCP in place.

Every child with SEN (Special Educational Needs) should have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) whether or not they have an EHCP. The IEP is for short term targets, e.g half-termly or termly, while an EHCP is a more long term plan. The EHCP includes 4 or 5 ‘outcomes’ which are a target that the people involved in writing agree is an outcome that should be being worked towards for that child; this could be in numeracy, literacy, self care, social skills, communication etc. Underneath each outcome is ‘provision’ which is what needs to happen for that need to be met. This can be very specific or more general.

EHCPs are overseen by SENSAP (Special Educational Needs Statutory Assessment & Planning team). A child’s EHCP should be reviewed every year but it doesn’t have to change every year. Schools or settings often take the lead in undertaking the review meeting and any amendments are sent back to SENSAP who will decide if the plan should be amended.

The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Services (SENDIASS) in Leeds have information about the EHCP proceess here: 

Applying for an EHCP

It is a 20 week process from initial application to getting the EHCP. The request for an EHCP can come from the parent or carer, or the setting the child is in. There are 2 different forms to complete for the application- one is completed by the parent or carer (EHC2) and the other by the setting (EHC1). Whilst you don’t have to complete both it is better to do so. The school’s application form is usually completed by the SENCO with support from the child’s class teacher and TA.

The more information you can put into your initial form the better and also include any letters and reports you have from other professionals or agencies working with you and your child; e.g Speech & Language, Deaf & Hearing Impaired Team, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, cardiology, respiratory or feeding clinics. You can’t include too much evidence and supporting information!

You may have heard of/experienced requests for EHCPs being refused on the grounds that the child’s needs are being met so there is no reason for one. However, in the SEN code of practice one reason to assess for EHCP is that needs are being met because there is a significant amount of support being given. Your child may be making progress but it is important to explain this is only because of the significant amount of support that is in place, and that this level of support will continue to be needed. Children with Down syndrome will always need a significant level of support and it is likely to increase as they get older in terms of differentiation to the rest of the class. So it is important to emphasise that this isn’t something temporary as Down syndrome is a lifelong condition; everything isn’t going to become level because the child’s needs are being met.

Once you make a request for an assessment the local authority has 6 weeks to decide whether to proceed with an assessment. You should be contacted by your casework officer, who is your link and contact with the SENSAP team. They should contact you regarding your request for an assessment and should keep you informed with what’s happening. Unfortunately at the moment they are massively under resourced and under pressure so things aren’t necessarily happening as they should. It may be necessary to do some chasing up!

At the moment there is a panel who have a Decision to Assess (DAP) meeting where they look at all of the applications for an EHCP assessment. Based on the EHC forms and supporting evidence they decide whether an assessment is appropriate. You will be informed, usually by letter, of the outcome of this panel meeting.

If an assessment is agreed as part of the assessment process an educational psychologist will meet your child and write a report. This is important and holds a lot of weight in making the plan. You should always have an opportunity to speak or meet with the educational psychologist to share your views too.

You should get a draft of the plan within 16 weeks of making the request for an assessment. You can then read through that plan and will then be invited to a ‘Next Steps’ meeting, involving you, the casework officer, school, and possibly other professionals. The purpose of this is to go through the plan in detail and check everything’s right.

An organisation called SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Services) are there to work in partnership with parents if there are difficulties in assessing. They are a good team to contact if you’re struggling with the process.


In Leeds the EHCP process is separate from the funding schools receive to support children with special educational needs, which is called Early Years Funding for Inclusion (EYFFI) and Funding for Inclusion (FFI).

Every setting has a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments to support a child with SEN. Every school has a notional budget and before they apply for any other funding they should use £6000 of this to support any child with SEN. For example a school might buy in Speech and Language therapy privately. If a child needs 1:1 support then the school needs to apply for FFI (Funding For Inclusion). FFI has very clear criteria on how to access the funding. An EHCP can be helpful in this process here as it outlines that the child has significant needs. In a private nursery the SENIT (Special Educational Needs and Inclusion Team) have to request FFI but schools can request it themselves.

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