Education, health and care plans

Education, health and care (EHC) plans are for children and young people who need a high level of support to access education or formal training. The plans can start from a child’s birth and continue into further education and training.  For some young people they will continue until they are 25 years old.

The EHC plan is a legal document written by the council which says what help will be given to meet the person's special educational needs. The EHC plan also includes health and care provision if that is needed. 

Most children and young people with special educational needs will have help given to them by the school or college. For children and young people who need more help and support to progress, the council may carry out an EHC needs assessment. After this needs assessment is completed, the council decides whether or not to issue an EHC plan.

EHC plans have replaced Statements of Special Educational Needs and Learning Difficulty Assessments (Section 139 Assessments) from September 1, 2014. Children and young people who already have a Statement of Special Educational Need will transfer to an EHC plan by April 2018.

What does an EHC plan include?

Decisions about the content of EHC plans will be made openly and collaboratively with parents, children and young people. It will be clear how the child or young person has contributed to the plan and how their views are reflected in it. In preparing the EHC plan the council must consider how best to achieve the outcomes sought for the child or young person. The outcomes included should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound).

EHC plans should

  • describe positively what the child or young person can do and has achieved.
  • be clear, concise, understandable and accessible to parents, children, young people, providers and practitioners.
  • include advice on the options for receiving support - especially where a young person or parent is seeking an innovative or alternative way to receive their support services, such as through a personal budget.
  • show how education, health and care provision will be co-ordinated wherever possible to support the child or young person to achieve their outcomes. The plan should also show how the different types of provision contribute to specific outcomes.
  • be forward looking – for example, anticipating, planning and commissioning for important transition points in a child or young person’s life, including planning and preparing for their transition to adult life.
  • describe how informal (family and community) support as well as formal support from statutory agencies can help in achieving agreed outcomes.
  • have a review date (which should link to other regular reviews, including the child in need plan or child protection plan reviews if appropriate).

How long does an EHC plan last?

The council must review the EHC plan at least once every 12 months. The review must be done in partnership with the child and their parent or the young person, and must take account of their views, wishes and feelings.

The council must decide whether to keep the plan as it is, make changes, or stop maintaining it within four weeks of the review meeting.

For some young people an EHC plan can continue until they are 25.

Where does the funding come from?

For young people in 6th forms or attending college, some of the funding will come from the college budget. This may be topped up by the council if the amount of funding needed is more than the ‘nationally prescribed threshold’. This is an amount of money that is decided on by the government each year. The Parents Advice Centre (PAC) can give you more information on this funding.

All young people with an EHC plan and all parents of children with an EHC plan can ask for a personal budget.

What happens if I move?

If you plan to move to another council area you should contact the ‘old’ and the ’new’ councils so that the support specified in the EHC plan will be in place. The plan will need to be changed to name the new school or college.

The ‘old’ council must transfer the plan on the day of the move. Where the old council has not been provided with 15 working days’ notice of the move, it must transfer the EHC plan within 15 working days beginning with the day on which it did become aware.

You can read about EHC plans in Chapter 9 of the SEND Code.