An education, health and care plan (EHCP) is for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more help than is normally available through special educational needs support in a school. Find out about requesting an EHCP, the assessment process and resolving disagreements.

local offer logo EHCPs have replaced statements of special educational needs (SEN) and learning disability agreements.

Children and young people with existing statements of SEN will continue to be supported according to those statements and their rights protected.

We are working to transfer statements over EHCPs.

Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. What is an EHCP?

The EHCP involves parents, carers, young people and children in decisions about what support a child or young person needs now and in the future.

It’s prepared in partnership with professionals working across education, health and social care specialist services.


  • is for all children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities who are placed in special school settings
  • can be requested if the child or young person is in a mainstream setting and their needs require a high level of support to allow them to access the curriculum
  • can last until a young person is 25 years old, but for most young people the plan will finish earlier than that because it does not apply once the young person leaves school or college

EHCPs are focused on:

  • achieving outcomes
  • helping children and young people into school and through school
  • preparing young people for adulthood.

Have a look at our blank EHCP to get an idea of what a plan looks like.

2. Requesting an EHC assessment

Ask the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) at your child’s nursery, school or college if you think your child needs an assessment.

The SENCO is a teacher who is trained to identify children with special educational needs and make sure the children get all the help they need.

A parent or a young person over 16 can ask us for an assessment to see if an EHCP is needed.

If you want to do this, speak to us first, then complete and return the EHCP parental request and information form

Anyone else, including a foster carer, family friend or a professional that works with your child or young person can also let us know about their needs.

This should be done with the knowledge and agreement of parents or the young person.

What happens next?

We will:

  • contact your child’s nursery, school or college to find out more about your child
  • look at your child’s SEND support plan, if they have one
  • decide whether to assess your child for an EHCP
  • write to you within six weeks to tell you whether or not we’re going to do an assessment.

If we go ahead with an assessment, the child or young person and their family will be involved in the whole process.

If we don’t do an assessment

We will write to you to explain our decision.

Depending on the reasons we will either:

  • offer to meet you to discuss our decision and what your child needs
  • discuss with you what other help your child needs and put it in place
  • discuss your child’s SEND support plan with their school, nursery or college if we think you haven’t been listened to. We may also arrange a meeting in the nursery, school or college.

If you disagree with our decision, you can make an appeal.

3. EHC assessments

When a child or young person starts an assessment they will be assigned an EHC coordinator, who manages the assessment process and sees it through from start to finish.

The family can also have an independent supporter to help them through the whole process and who will help maintain relationships between the family and practitioners.

Parents will usually find out within 14 weeks whether or not an EHCP is going to be made for the child or young person.

If an EHCP is going to be made, we will send you a draft copy. The parent or young person will have 15 days to comment and say what school or post 16 education provider they would like. We will then issue the final EHC plan.

The whole process should not take longer than 20 weeks.

Find more information about the assessment, and how long things will take download the parents' guide to the EHC assessment

You can also read about the criteria used by the SEND panel to decide if an EHC assessment should be done.

If your child doesn’t need an EHCP

We will write to you to tell you our decision and how you can appeal.