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Home What are Special Educational Needs and Disability? What is the Children and Families Act 2014? What is the SEND Local Offer? What is Early Help? What is an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment? Where can I find Independent Help and Support? Key documents for implementing the SEND reforms

What is an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment?

This animation video has been co-produced with our children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities from a range of schools in North Lincolnshire - Althorpe and Keadby Primary school, Outwood Academy Foxhills, St Luke's Primary School, North Lindsey College and John Leggott College. They produced the animation drawings used in the videos and recorded the voice over. We are very grateful to all of those who contributed and hope that you find the video informative.

The majority of children and young people with SEN or disabilities will have their needs met within local mainstream early years settings, schools or colleges .

Some children and young people may require an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment in order for the local authority to decide whether it is necessary for it to make provision in accordance with an EHC plan.

The purpose of an EHC plan is to make special educational provision to meet the special educational needs of the child or young person, to secure the best possible outcomes for them across education, health and social care and, as they get older, prepare them for adulthood.

The new EHC plan puts children, young people and families at the very centre of the process to make sure that their views are not only heard but also understood. The EHCP planning process uses person centered planning which helps families feel that they are more in control.

EHC plans are based on coordinated assessments from all of the services involved with the child or young person. The plans focus on outcomes and has to say how services will work together to meet the needs of the child or young person.

A statutory assessment for an EHC plan should not be the first step in the process for helping to meet the needs of a child or young person but should be built on coordinated work that is already happening between families, educational settings and any other health or social care services involved.

Young people and families have helped to design the plan that we are using. So far people are saying that they feel more listened to and more involved in the decision-making for their child in ways that make sense to them.

When should a referral for an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment be made?

The majority of children and young people with special educational needs can be provided for from the resources normally available in their educational setting and community. The Local Offer will ensure that families and practitioners can find out what is available and help everyone to make the most of services offered in schools and in the community.

Where provision cannot reasonably be provided through services that are normally available, it may be necessary to apply for an EHC Needs Assessment.

It is usually best for families to talk to their child's setting or a professional working with their child before a request is made. Settings and professionals who are familiar with the family should be able to help the family to decide whether an assessment is needed.

When a request is made it really helps those making the decision to know why the family think an assessment is needed. It also helps to have good information about the journey for the child so far. There are questions on the request form that help to gather this information.

Sometimes families may find it helpful to talk to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) or other voluntary support services when a request for an EHC Needs Assessment is being considered. Contact details for SENDIASS are 01724 277665 or email help@nlsendiass.org.uk.

Who can apply?

Parents and young people post 16 have the right to request an EHC Needs Assessment independently. A person acting on behalf of a school or post 16 institution can also request an EHC Needs Assesement (this should ideally be with the knowledge and agreement of the parent or young person where possible).

How are families supported?

If an assessment is agreed, the family may be offered support from an Independent Supporter to guide them through the process. This could continue if a plan is agreed.

Support and advice is also available throughout the process from the Special Educational Needs and Disability, Information and Support Service (SENDIASS).

Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment Referrals

When a new Education, Health and Care Plan may be required, a range of documents have been developed to gather information in the Assessment process that will be used when writing the Plan.

The school or educational/early years provider will complete a referral form EHCP Referral form which will be discussed with parents and professionals, possibly at a person-centred review meeting, prior to sending to the Authority. This form will seek to collate information to help the Authority decide if an Assessment is necessary. A guidance booklet for schools and educational providers to complete a referral form is available Guidance for education settings.

If the local authority decides to assess, it will also seek information from the local Heath Authority who will complete an advice form EHCP Health advice and also social care services for advice EHCP Care advice each giving its contribution to the Assessment. 

On completion of the Assessment, if a decision is made to issue an EHCP, a draft Education, Health and Care Plan will be produced (the Authority's template for the EHCP) detailing assessment advice and support arrangements.

The Plan can be more personalised with names/pictures/images as determined by the young person or parent (an example is John's Plan).

Decision making

The majority of cases will be discussed at the Special Educational Needs and Disability Panel (SENDAP). This is a multi-agency panel (with representatives invited from education, health and care). It meets on a weekly basis to consider and make recommendations in relation to EHC needs assessment requests and outcomes.  The panel makes recommendations regarding cases, although the local authority is responsible for decision making in relation to EHC needs assessments and outcomes.

How EHC Planning works

Our EHCP process diagram provides details about the assessment process and timescales. If a plan is agreed, it will be reviewed every year although parts of the plan can be reviewed more frequently.

Reviewing an EHC plan

EHC plans must be reviewed by the local authority as a minimum every 12 months. Reviews must focus on the child or young person’s progress towards achieving the outcomes specified in the EHC plan. The local authority’s decision following the review meeting must be notified to the child’s parent or the young person within four weeks of the review meeting.

More information on reviewing an EHC plan can be found in chapter 9 of the SEND Code of Practice.


Preparation for Adulthood

It is important that young people start to think about their aspirations as early as possible. Local authorities must ensure that the EHC plan review at Year 9, and every review thereafter, includes a focus on preparation for adulthood. Transition planning must be built into the revised EHC plan and should result in clear outcomes being agreed that are ambitious and stretching.  This should follow consideration of any further education or training that will enable young people to secure paid work, or other opportunities for a positive adult life.

Young people should be supported to exercise choice and control over their lives, including the four ‘preparing for adulthood’ outcomes:

  1. moving into paid employment and higher education
  2. independent living
  3. having friends and relationships and being part of their communities
  4. being as healthy as possible

More information on the four ‘preparing for adulthood’ outcomes can be found in chapter 8 of the SEND Code of Practice and the Preparing for Adulthood website, www.preparingforadulthood.org.uk


Ceasing EHC Plans

A local authority may cease to maintain an EHC plan if it determines that it is no longer necessary for the plan to be maintained, or if it is no longer responsible for the child or young person. Where a local authority is considering ceasing to maintain an EHC Plan, it must consult with the child’s parent or the young person, and the school or other institution that is named in the EHC plan.


Young people over 19 with EHC plans

In line with preparing young people for adulthood, a local authority must not cease an EHC plan simply because a young person is aged 19 or over. Young people with EHC plans may need longer in education or training to achieve their outcomes and make an effective transition into adulthood. However, this position does not mean that there is an automatic entitlement to continued support at age 19 or an expectation that those with an EHC plan should all remain in education until age 25. A local authority may cease a plan for a 19 to 25-year-old if it decides that it is no longer necessary for the EHC plan to be maintained.

More information and guidance on EHCPs beyond the age of 19 can be found in the SEND19-25 year olds entitlement to EHC plans


Mental Capacity

Young people over compulsory school age have the right to participate in decisions about the provision that is made for them.  However, some young people will not have the mental capacity to make certain decisions. Under the Children and Families Act, lacking mental capacity has the same meaning as in the Mental Capacity Act 2005. In cases where a person lacks mental capacity to make a particular decision, that decision will be taken by a representative on their behalf. Further information can be found in the SEND Code of Practice.  Also see the Preparation for Adulthood leaflet.

Animations to help explain the EHCP Process and Person Centred Connection

With support from the Department for Education, Independent Support has produced two short animation films, which can be used by local authorities, IAS services, IS agencies, professionals and parent groups in their communications with parents and young people.

The purpose of the two animations is to help explain the EHCP process and its important relationship with the Person Centred Connection. These are available to view here

What are Education, Health and Care Plans?

This film is about how the new law that took effect on 1st September 2014 and talks about how statements of SEN will be changing to Education, Health and Care plans.

Thank you to the Council for Disabled Children© and the Department for Education© for permission to use these videos.

For further information please contact

Address: SEND Team, Hewson House, Station Road, Brigg DN20 8XJ

E-Mail: special.needssection@northlincs

Education resources for schools and providers

The EHC Transfer Process - Guidance and associated documentation for schools in relation to Transfer Reviews:

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