Education Health and Care Plans

Under the Children and Families Act 2014, the Government has reformed the way educational provision will be delivered to children with special educational needs and Disabilities (SEND). The new system was introduced in September 2014 and is currently being introduced across all local authority areas in England.

What are the main changes?

  • Statements of Special Educational Needs (Statements) have been replaced by Educational Health and Care Plans (EHC plans). 
  • EHC plans address the broader health and social care needs of the child/young person rather than their educational needs only.
  • EHC plans can be in force from the ages of 0 to 25, where appropriate, rather than 0-18.
  • EHC plans apply to those young people who are remaining in education or training, or undertaking an apprenticeship up to the age of 25 – they are therefore not limited to school life, in the same way that Statements of SEN were. 
  • Parents still have the right to request an assessment of their child’s education needs to determine whether a plan is necessary.
  • The assessment process for EHC plans involves a range of professionals, but is intended to be more streamlined than the existing system.  Local authorities are being encouraged to use co-ordinators and to offer independent support to families.
  • The whole assessment and planning process, from the point an assessment is requested until the final EHC plan is issued, must take no more than 20 weeks.
  • The Government are currently considering how the SEN tribunal should work as a point of appeal under the new system.

How and when are the changes happening?

  • After September 2014, all new entrants to the SEND system are being assessed for an EHC plan.  This means there will be no new assessments for SEN statements or Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDA).
  • Children who already have a SEN statement will be transferred to an EHC plan within three and a half years.  
  • Young people with Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDA) will be transferred to an EHC plan within two years.
  • Transfers onto EHC plans are likely to happen when the child or young person is at a key point of transition, such as when they move between primary and secondary school.
  • Local authorities must consult with young people and parents to determine the best point within each year for them to transfer onto the new system.

What will be covered in an EHC plan?

EHC plans will contain the following information:

a. The views, interests and aspirations of the child and their parents or young person;
b. Information about the child or young person’s SEN;
c. Information about the child or young person’s health needs which relate to their SEN;
d. Information about the child or young person’s social care needs which relate to their SEN;
e. The outcomes sought for the child or the young person, including outcomes for adult life where appropriate;
f. The special educational provision required by the child or the young person;
g. Any healthcare provision reasonably required by the learning difficulties and disabilities which result in the child or young person having SEN;
h. Any social care provision reasonably required by the child or young person;
i. The name and type of the school, maintained nursery school, post-16 institution or other institution or the type of school or other institution to be attended by the child or young person where no such institution is named. 
j. Where there is a personal budget, the details of this and the outcomes to which it is intended to contribute. 
k. The advice and information gathered during the assessment (in appendices). There should be a list of this advice and information.

In addition, where the child or young person is in or beyond year 9, the EHC plan must include the provision required by the child or young person to assist in preparation for adulthood and independent living, for example, support for finding employment, housing or for participation in society.

When moving from phases of education or from education into training, the plan should be updated by 15 February of the year of the transfer.

Who is entitled to an Education, Health and Care Plan?

Under the Children and Families Act 2014, that eligibility for an EHC plan remains the same as it is now for a statement of SEN.  This means that all children and young people who currently have a Statement of SEN will be transferred to an EHC plan. Children entering the system who would have met the threshold for a statement of SEN will be entitled to an EHC plan.

Where can I go for more information?

Sense has produced a set of resources on the SEND system for parents, professionals and commissioners.

The changes are set out in detail in the SEND Code of Practice (PDF on UK Government website) guidance.

If you would like further information please contact Sense’s Information and Advice Team at info@sense.org.uk, or call 0300 330 9256 (voice / textphone).

First published: Monday 19 May 2014
Updated: Tuesday 1 December 2015