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Education, health and care plans (EHCP)

Most children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) get all the help they need from their mainstream education provider.

Mainstream education providers include:

  • early years settings such as nurseries or preschools
  • schools
  • providers of further education such as colleges

Education providers must try to meet the needs of all children and young people with learning difficulties.

They do this using funds given to them by the council and Education and Skills Funding Agency to help children and young people with special educational needs (SEN).

This is called SEN support.

If children continue to have difficulties learning

Some children and young people may continue to have difficulties learning, despite an education provider’s attempts to identify, assess and meet their SEN.

In these cases, education providers, parents, carers and young people with SEND can consider asking for an education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment.

Speak to your school's SENCo for help and guidance.

EHC needs assessments involve gathering information from relevant people or agencies, including medical, social care and education professionals.

They also include the views of the child or young person themselves, as well as their parents or carers.

The assessment will help us to decide if we need to provide additional help through an education, health and care (EHC) plan.

An EHC plan is sometimes referred to as an EHCP.

This video from the Council for Disabled Children explains EHC plans and how they help.

Ordinarily available provision

Most young people with SEND will have their needs met without an EHC Plan as schools can give a significant amount of extra help through SEN support.

In Buckinghamshire, this is known as ordinarily available provision.

Schools must publish a SEN information report on their website, which will describe the ordinarily available support they give children with SEN.

Find links to your school's SEN information on our directory. Find this information under the "SEND support (Local Offer)" section of a school's listing.

EHC needs assessments

To decide if a child or young person needs an EHC plan, we must conduct an EHC needs assessment. This is a legal requirement.

School or educational settings usually start this process. They will work with parents, carers, young people and professionals to submit a request for an EHC needs assessment to us.

You can download letters to request an EHC needs assessment. These letters can be used by:

  • parents or carers
  • young people with SEND aged 16 to 25

Templates from others sources can be used, or requests can be made using alternative formats as preferred.

If a parent, carer or young person needs help to complete a request for an EHC needs assessment, they can contact the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support (SENDIAS) service.

SENDIAS is at arm's length from Buckinghamshire council and provides free, impartial information, advice and support for children and young people with SEND and their parents or carers.

Anyone else who thinks an EHC needs assessment is necessary can bring a child or young person who has (or may have) SEN to the attention of the local authority including:

  • doctors
  • health visitors
  • social workers
  • early years professionals
  • school or college staff
  • family friends

This should be done with the knowledge and, where possible, agreement of the child’s parent or the young person. Where a child or young person has been brought to the local authority’s attention, they must determine whether an EHC needs assessment is required.

How does the local authority decide whether to secure an EHC needs assessment?

Section 36 of the Children and Families Act 2014 provides that when a request for an EHC needs assessment for a child or young person is made, the local authority must determine if:

  • the child or young person has (or may have) special educational needs, and
  • it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan

When making a decision, the local authority will contact the child’s parent or the young person after receiving a request and inform the parent or young person that they have the right to give their views to the authority (verbally or in writing) and give evidence during the assessment.

EHC needs assessment process

Before deciding if a child or young person should have an EHC needs assessment, we need to consider:

  • if a child or young person has or may have SEN
  • if a child or young person may need support for SEN through an EHC plan

As part of this process, evidence will be collected to show:

  • what SEN support a child or young person has already received from their education provider
  • how the child or young person responded to SEN support

Within 6 weeks of receiving a request, we will inform parents, carers or young people whether or not an EHC assessment will be carried out.

One result of the assessment may be that we do not think an EHC plan is necessary to support a child or young person.

We tell parents, carers or young people within 16 weeks of getting the original request if this is the case.

Creating an EHC plan

If we decide that an EHC plan is needed, we will work with the child or young person to understand their goals and ambitions, and what they want to do in the future.

These hoped-for results are known as 'outcomes’, and they will be used when creating an EHC plan.

To make sure we get the right long term outcomes for a child or young person, EHC plans contain details on:

  • the child or young person's goals for the future
  • support needed from education, health and care providers to meet the intended outcomes
  • the child or young person's education, health and care needs relating to their SEND
  • the type of education provider they will go to

Based on the information we gather, we will create an EHC plan.

A draft copy will be sent to parents and carers, or the young person if they made the application themselves.

Parents, carers and young people will have at least 15 days to comment on the draft EHC plan.

If they want to request that a child or young person goes to a particular education provider, they can say so at this stage.

You can see an EHC plan template on Buckinghamshire's SchoolsWeb. It is divided into 12 sections, and records a child or young person's health, education and social care needs.

It also includes details on how a personal budget can be used to support the intended outcomes for a child or young person.

A EHC plan will be reviewed as a minimum, every 12 months. You can view the Annual Review documents on SchoolsWeb.

Parents, carers and young people can make additional requests for reviews of EHC plans at any time

Disagreeing with our decision

You can disagree with:

  • our decision not to carry out an EHC needs assessment
  • our decision not to create an EHC plan
  • the special educational needs and provision described in the EHC plan
  • the health or social care needs and provision described in the EHC plan
  • the school named in the EHC plan

To raise their concerns, parents, carers and young people should first speak to their current educational setting and / or a member of the Integrated SEND Service, which could be their EHC Coordinator involved in their case. They can arrange a meeting with you to discuss current and future SEND support. Contact our Integrated SEND Service (iSEND).

If parents, carers or young people are not satisfied after discussions with the iSEND Service, they can contact the SEN Resolutions team.

Parents, carers or young people can contact SENDIAS for free, impartial advice and support at any time.

Parents, carers or young people can also use an independent, unbiased mediation service by calling Global Mediation on 0800 064 4488. This service is free of charge.

After speaking with a mediation advisor, you can decide if you would like to go to a mediation meeting. If you do not want to continue with mediation, the mediation adviser will issue a certificate within 3 days, confirming that mediation advice has been given.

If this does not resolve your problem, you can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability). You can also decide to go to this stage without speaking to a mediation adviser by obtaining a mediation certificate.