The EHCP, which means the Education and Health Care Plan is a document which sets out the education, healthcare and social care needs of a child or young person for whom extra support is needed in school, beyond that which the school can provide.
It was formerly known as a ‘statement of special educational needs’.
Children with an EHCP will usually be entitled to extra one-to-one support in school (though not necessarily full-time) and will have outside agencies involved in their support, such as physiotherapists, behavioural experts or sensory impairment teachers.
An EHCP will includes 12 sections of key information including:
A - the views, interests and aspirations of the young person. B - the child’s or young person’s Special Educational Needs. C - health needs related to their SEN or to a disability. D - social care needs related to their SEN or to a disability. E - planned outcomes for the child or young person. F - provision for the needs mentioned in Section B. G - any health provision. H1 - any social care provision that must be made for a child or young person. H2 - any other social care provision related to a child’s SEN or to a disability. I - the name/type of school or setting. J - details of any personal budget. K - advice and information from the EHC assessment.
Here is our guide to completing an EHCP
This section is a narrative about your child. It is ‘your’ section rather than the professionals’. It is expected that it will also include the voice of your child, or the words of the Young Person (1).
Section A could be thought of as the bit that you want professionals to know about, without needing to repeat yourself at every new appointment; something you could take with you if your child needs a hospital stay, for example.
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice (SENDCoP) (2015) refers to this section as being ‘The views, interests and aspirations of the child and their parents, or of the young person’ (2).
Often when you apply for an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP), you will get a form to fill in which usually gets used to write Section A. However, right at the beginning of the process is not really the right time. You can sit and think about it and put in your own report while the Needs Assessment is taking place, or at any Annual Review.
What section A should contain are these:
Aspirations and goals for the future - including paid employment, independent living and being part of the community
Details about play, health, schooling, independence, friendships, further education and future plans, including employment (where practical)
How to communicate with your child (signing, pictures, pointing etc)
Your child’s history
It should be clear who is ‘talking’ if it is written in the first person. If you are talking for your child, it should say so. If a professional is talking on your or your child’s behalf, it should say this too.It is important to look ahead at what you want for your child as an adult – your aspirations, and when they can express themselves, their aspirations. The EHCP is a ‘live’ document which changes with your child. Your child might have specific interests which could indicate what type of job they might like. Even if their needs are quite complex, they may still aspire to go to college, have paid employment and live in their own home. These things should be recorded in section A.
1 A Young Person is a person who is 16 and no longer of compulsory school age 2 SENDCoP s9.69
The Needs Assessment will have sought advice and information from a range of professionals and identified your child’s needs, provision and outcomes. It is important that these are considered in this order, you cannot consider what provision is required until you know what your child’s needs are (1). Section B is dedicated to your child’s special educational needs (SEN).
All SEN must be specified, including those which can be met by the school or the Local Offer. SEN may include needs for health and social care provision which are treated as special educational provision because they ‘educate or train’ (2), so advice from health and social care is needed.
It is not enough just to name a list of diagnoses (if there are any) without talking about the effects any diagnoses may have on the child or young person and, how any diagnoses impact on the child or young person’s ability to access the school and curriculum. No diagnoses are needed, EHCPs are needs-led.
‘Sam has dyslexia’ doesn’t tell the reader about the impact of this. Add: ‘All aspects of Sam’s literacy are delayed, despite Sam’s underlying ability being in the high average range’, and it will tell the reader that Sam can produce age-appropriate work, with support. However, it still does not say just how delayed Sam’s literacy is. Add: ‘Assessments show that Sam’s literacy skills are in the below and well below average ranges’, now tells us that the delay is quite significant. Writing what each score was would give us even more useful information and gives us something we can keep track of.
Sam’s needs would not change if the EHCP described ‘delayed literacy skills’ rather than dyslexia. The same would go for any/all educational needs.
The term ‘SEN’ also covers disability where it hinders or prevents access to what typical peers of the same age can access in mainstream (3). Again, a description of the child or young person’s needs should cover all needs, not just those which cannot be met by the nursery/school/college.
Describing needs properly is essential because for each educational need, there must be educational provision to meet it stated in section F.
1 A v Special Educational Needs & Disability Tribunal & Anor  EWHC 3368 (Admin) (25 November 2003) 2 Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015, s9.69 3 Children and Families Act s20
This section must specify any identified health needs your child has, which relate to their Special Educational Needs (SEN). Some basic health care needs, such as routine dental needs are unlikely to be considered as ‘related to SEN’.
The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) may choose to specify non-related long-term health needs because that need may require managing in school (1).
When the Needs Assessment is being carried out, medical advice and information must be sought by the local authority (LA) from a health care professional identified by the responsible commissioning body.
If the healthcare provision ‘educates or trains’, the description of ‘need’ goes into section B of the Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, rather than in section C (2). You need to consider:
whether or not your child has health needs which are linked to their SEN then,
if those needs ‘educate or train’
A child has a moderate learning disability and remains incontinent past a ‘typical’ age. This is likely to be linked to their SEN. Provision of toilet training is ‘education or training’
A child has a significant hearing impairment and unclear speech. This is a ‘SEN’ and provision of speech therapy would be ‘education or training’
A child has hayfever and needs some medication in the spring & summer months. This is not a SEN
A child is short-sighted and wears glasses, which corrects their vision. This would be considered ‘routine needs’
‘Health’ may decide to list other non-SEN health needs, which may need managing in a school. This could be something like asthma, eczema or a heart condition.
Because a lot of health terms are quite technical, it would be useful to have a short explanation of what it means in simple terms. An EHC plan must be understood by a range of people, most will not be health professionals!
1 Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015, s9.69 2 Children and Families Act 2014, s21(5)
This section is about your child or young person’s Social Care needs. During the Needs Assessment for the Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, advice and information about social care needs must be sought. Saying ‘nil’, ‘not know to this service’ etc. is unlikely to satisfy the requirement to seek advice and information. It could be that your child is assessed as not having social care needs at this time. If that is the case, this section could say that.
Section D must specify any social care needs identified through the EHC needs assessment which relate your child or young person’s Special Educational Needs (SEN). This would include needs which will require provision to be made for them under section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act (CSDPA) 1970 (1) (the naming of the Act reflects the language used in the 1960s-70s).
The local authority (LA) might specify social care needs not related to SEN, such as a Child Protection or Child in Need (CiN) plan but can only do that if you agree.
The LA should have an identified person(s) who looks at the Needs Assessment and decides if a social care assessment might be needed. If agreed, you should then be contacted by someone at the social care team. You can be referred to Short Breaks (which is part of s2 of the CSDPA) without having a s17 (CiN) assessment, but it is the s17 which is the ‘gateway’ as it identifies children who are ‘in need’. You can also self-refer for a s17 assessment at any time.
All disabled children (a child who has a developmental, mental or physical impairment (2) are considered as being a CiN under the Children Act 1989. As such, they are entitled to an assessment. This is a Social Worker (SW) assessment. The assessment must identify your child’s needs, provision to meet those needs, and the outcomes expected from that provision.
Section 9 of the Care Act 2014 is for young people 18 or above. Like with a s17, the eligibility for assessment is low. A care and support plan must be drawn up describing identified needs.
Not all families want a SW assessment, not all children have needs which require social care and not all children or young people are eligible for provision just because an assessment has been carried out..
Whether a child or young person, their identified needs which are eligible for services should be clearly stated in section D of the EHCP.
1 Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015, s9.69 2 The Children Act 1989, s19(11)
Section E details the outcomes being sought for you child. Outcomes are the effect of the provision in section F and should also relate to the aspirations written in section A. There should be a range of outcomes over varying timescales, covering education, health and social care.
The outcomes should not only be about how your child will progress in their learning, but also about preparing them well for adulthood (1). The EHCP can also include wider outcomes like making positive social relationships.
Outcomes should be personal, something that your child can have control and influence over. They do not need to be formal or linked to qualifications. They should be ‘SMART’ (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound) and describe the expected benefit of the provision specified in section F (2).
Wording such as: ‘will develop an understanding’ is not SMART. ‘Will’ is sometime in the future, rather than being time-bound. Attending a single lesson could mean that your child has ‘developed’, and how would ‘understanding’ be measured?
‘Sam will be able to use Assistive Technology to independently produce written work by the end of Key Stage 3’ is an example of a SMART outcome. The provision in section F would be the laptop/tablet, with appropriate software and teaching how to use it. Sam may have some study skills teaching too. It is also likely that this outcome is important to Sam, because Sam may have been frustrated and getting into trouble. Sam’s self-esteem may also have improved.
Long term aspirations are not outcomes. You child’s long-term aspiration might be paid employment, but the local authority does not have a duty make this happen, only to identify your child’s needs and provision, to help them succeed.
There should be forward plans for key changes in a child or young person’s life, such as changing schools, moving from children’s to adult care, or moving on from college to adulthood. From Year 9 onwards, the nature of the outcomes will reflect the need to ensure young people are preparing for adulthood.
For young people aged over 17, the Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) should identify clearly which outcomes are education and training outcomes. It is the education and training outcomes which determine if your child’s EHCP should continue or be ceased (3) (rather than health or social care outcomes).
1 Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015, s9.64 2 Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015, s9.66 3 Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015, s9.69
This section describes all the special educational provision your child must have. It follows on from section B which described all of their special educational needs. This section is written after section B, but before section E (outcomes) and section I (educational placement). It is not until sections B and F are written, can it be known whether a school can meet the child’s needs (1).
Provision must be detailed and specific and should normally be quantified, for example, in terms of the type, hours and frequency of support and level of expertise, including where this support is secured through a Personal Budget (2).
It is unlikely to be lawful for the local authority to use wording such as:
‘it is recommended that’
'requires a handwriting programme and a reading programme’
‘access to multisensory teaching would be helpful’
This type of wording has been criticised for not stating what is required (3). Also:
‘initially a visit once a week for a term thereafter reducing to once a fortnight (4)’ is considered too vague as much more detail is needed.
The following is the correct approach to wording:
‘Sam requires a reading programme, focussing on accuracy and fluency. The programme will be devised and monitored by a Specialist Literacy Teacher. The Specialist Teacher will work with Sam for 30 minutes, once per week and a teaching assistant, with training and experience in teaching pupils literacy difficulties, will deliver the programme for 15 minutes daily’
The LA cannot have a policy to not specify or quantify provision, that would not be lawful.If a child is in a special school/college, there may be greater flexibility. However, it is expected that where detail can be reasonably provided, the local authority specifies the provision required (5).
1 A v Special Educational Needs & Disability Tribunal & Anor  EWHC 3368 (Admin) (25 November 2003) 2 Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015, s9.69 3 JD v South Tyneside  UKUT 9 (AAC) ELR 118 4 S v SENDIST  EWHC 1139 5 B-M and B-M v Oxfordshire CC (SEN)  UKUT 35 (AAC).
This section should detail any health provision reasonably required by your child’s special educational needs (SEN). Provision should be detailed and specific and should normally be quantified, for example, in terms of the type of support and who will provide it (1).
The local authority (LA) and ‘health’ (NHS and CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups)) must jointly consider what provision is required to promote the wellbeing of children with SEN, and what would improve the quality of the special educational provision for them. They must then make joint arrangements to do (commission) this.
Health care provision which ‘educates or trains’, must be placed in section F and not section G. This might include: speech and language therapy and other therapies such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy and services relating to mental health, if they ‘educate or train’.
What might go in section G?
wheelchair services and community equipment, children’s community nursing, continence services
palliative and respite care and other provision for children with complex health needs
other services, such as emergency care provision and habilitation support
provision for children and young people’s continuing care arrangements (including information on how these join up with the local process for developing EHC plans), and support for young people when moving between healthcare services for children to healthcare services for adults (2)
Information about these must be included in the Local Offer.
Any health care provision in section G of the EHC plan must be agreed by the CCG (or where relevant, NHS England) and any health care provision should be agreed in time to be included in the draft EHC plan sent to you. As part of the joint commissioning arrangements, there must be clear disagreement resolution procedures where there is disagreement on the services to be included in an EHC plan (3).
1 Special Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015, s9.69 2 Special Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015, s4.40/s9.70 3 Special Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015, s9.71
Section H 1 & 2 Section H1 (Under 18's)
Section H1 states the provision which must be made to meet your child’s needs under section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Person’s Act (CSDPA) 1970. If you have had a ‘Child in Need’ (CiN) (1) assessment, also known as a ‘section 17’, it should be clear what support your child needs. All disabled children are considered a CiN and eligible for an assessment (2).
Provision should be detailed and specific and should normally be quantified, for example, in terms of the type of support and who will provide it (including where this is to be secured through a social care direct payment) (3). It should also be clear how the provision will support the achievement of the outcomes sought.
Section H1 must specify all of the services assessed as being needed. While a LA can determine provision without a CiN assessment, without a full assessment, it cannot be known exactly what a child ‘needs’. Once it has been decided that your child is eligible for services under s2 CSDPA, they must be provided.
Section H1 can include the provision identified for a Parent Carer. A CiN assessment also includes an assessment of Parent Carer and Young Carer needs.
The types of provision stated can include any (or all) of the following:
a) practical assistance in the home b) provision or assistance in obtaining recreational and educational facilities at home and outside the home c) assistance in travelling to facilities d) adaptations to the home e) facilitating the taking of holidays f) provision of meals at home or elsewhere g) provision or assistance in obtaining a telephone and any special equipment necessary h) non-residential short breaks (included in Section H1 on the basis that the child as well as his or her parent will benefit from the short break)
1 Children Act 1989, s17 2 W, R (on the application of) v. London Borough of Barnet  UKHL 57 3 The Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015, s9.69
Section H2 (Over 18's)
This section is for any other social care provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties or disabilities which result in your child or young person having Special Educational Needs (SEN) (4)
This may include provision identified through Early Help and Children in Need (CiN) assessments and Safeguarding assessments for children. Section H2 must only include services which are not provided under Section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Person’s Act (CSDPA) (those will go in section H1).
If your child has residential short breaks and services, arising from their SEN but unrelated to a disability, they should go in this section.
If it is clear that your child will require support post-18, a ‘child’s needs assessment’ must be carried out (5). Your child should not be left without support just because they have turned 18. If your child has provision as a ‘CiN’, this provision can continue while there is an EHC plan (6)
This section should include any provision secured through a social care direct payment.
• Social care provision reasonably required will include any adult social care provision to meet eligible needs for young people over 18 (set out in an adult care and support plan) under the Care Act 2014. • The local authority (LA) may also choose to specify other social care provision for your child. This may include provision identified in a CiN or Child protection plan • This section can also state provision which meets eligible needs set out in an adult care plan, where it is unrelated to their SEN but appropriate to include in the EHC plan
4 Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015, s9.69 5 Care Act 2014, s58 6 Children’s Act 1989, s17ZG