Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

“An Education, Health and Care plan (“EHC plan”) is a legal document which describes a child or young person’s special educational needs, the support they need, and the outcomes they would like to achieve.”  Once in place an EHCP can allow your child to access specialist support, schools and therapy and will put in place the funding for this.  This support can be provided directly by your local authority or an EHCP can allocate funding for you to access this support independently.

To set up an EHCP you first need to apply for an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment from your Local Authority.  You can make this application yourself or it can be done by your child's school, nursery, doctor, health visitor etc

The process is a lengthy one and you need to convince the local authority in the first place that they actually need to assess your child, so it's important to include as much evidence as possible in your application. There are some really good guides on the internet which I would recommend studying before applying.

IPSEA have a template letter to use when requesting a needs assessment:

This is a Facebook Group about EHCPs:

During the EHCP application process,  key points must legally be completed within a specific timescale as shown in the diagram below (taken from West Sussex, other Local Authorities may use some different terminology but the key statutory points of 6 weeks to decide to assess or not, 16 weeks to decide if to grant an EHCP or not and 20 weeks to complete the process are standard):

If your Local Authority decide to assess your child, they will seek advice and information from you, any professionals who have been involved in your child's care, any educational establishment involved with your child and they will get an educational psychologist to do an assessment of your child (if you haven't already had a suitable one completed).

As part of the process you'll be asked to name a local school which you think would best cater for your child's needs and you would like them to attend.  This could be a mainstream school where they'll have extra provisions made for their needs (such as periods of one to one support), or a special school which is better able to cater for higher levels of need.  Local authorities run special schools (as they do mainstream schools) and there are also independent / non-maintained special schools. 

Education Advocacy publish a list of these independent schools which you can find here: have a section on their website where you can find special schools by the conditions that they specialise in: 

Depending on your child's needs, your local authority may suggest a mainstream school with additional support provided for your child, or a special school.  You may not agree with their suggestion (please bear in mind that special school places are very limited and in high demand) but if you feel that a special school would best meet their needs you can argue for this, and if you feel that a particular independent special school would be best for them, you can request that your local authority fund this (obviously, as with requesting any funding for independent provision for your child, you will have to have good cause to be successful with this request).