Education, health and care plans

The majority of children's special educational needs (SEN) can be met directly by schools and settings without the need for an Education, Health and Care Plan. The Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Code of Practice is clear that early years settings, schools and colleges must meet the needs of children and young people with SEN including those without an Education, Health and Care Plan and that SEN support should be provided using a graduated response using the Assess, Plan, Do, Review process.

The SEND Code of Practice states that local authorities must conduct an assessment of education, health and care needs and prepare an Education Health and Care (EHC) Plan when it considers that it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for a child or young person, where the SEN provision required to meet the child or young person's needs cannot reasonably be provided from within the resources normally available to mainstream early years providers (for example, nurseries), schools and post 16 institutions (for example, colleges). 

Education, Health and Care Plans replaced statutory statements of SEN across the UK. The main difference between an EHC Plan and a statement is that an EHC Plan covers the age range 0-25 years and includes health and social care support that is required as well as education.  

How to request an EHC Plan needs assessment

In some cases, a child with complex SEN needs may require additional support above and beyond what schools can provide at SEN Support using their notional SEN budget. Children and young people identified as having complex SEN may be referred for an EHC Plan assessment by a relevant professional, for example; a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO), teacher, educational psychologist, health worker, and so on. Parents and carers can also ask the local authority carry out an EHC Plan assessment and have a legal right to do so. Requesting a needs assessment does not guarantee that an assessment will go ahead or that an Education, Health and Care Plan will be provided.

How long does it take to complete the EHC Plan needs assessment process?

The whole process from initial referral to getting a decision about whether the child/young person will receive an EHC Plan should take no longer than 20 weeks. This Icon for word workflow diagram [43.66KB] highlights the EHC Plan assessment process, indicating the key stages of the 20 week needs assessment timescale. You can find more detailed information about what happens during the 20 week assessment process in this Icon for pdf EHC (Single) Plan guidance leaflet for families [113.93KB], which includes an A-Z of key contacts. The local authority Special Educational Needs (SEN) Team will keep parents/carers informed at key stages of the assessment process and whether the child/young person will receive an EHC Plan as a result of the assessment. 

What you can do if the LA has decided not to issue your child with an EHC Plan and you are unhappy with this decision.  

What kind of support is available for children and young people with an EHC (Single) Plan?

Find more information about the support available in Gateshead for children/young people aged 0-25 with SEN or disabilities, whether or not they have an EHC Plan:

Support for children and young people with an EHC Plan
Support for children and young people without an EHC Plan
EHC Plan referral forms and templates

Contact us

Special Educational Needs and Disability Team
Gateshead Council

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