Guidance on Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessments and plans

An EHC plan identifies a child's special educational needs, together with health and social care provisions when these services are involved.

You can read more about EHC Assessments or contact our EHC teams for further support - email is the best way, but our helplines are available for urgent queries from Monday to Friday, 10am to 3pm:


Before submitting an assessment request please speak with the Virtual School, Designated Teacher, and/or Special Educational Needs Coordinator in the child's school.


The local authority (LA) should consider whether the child has not made the expected progress despite actions being taken to identify, assess, and meet the special educational needs (SEN) of the child.

These actions should be evidenced in the child's Personal Education Plan (PEP) and may include:

  • evidence of the child's academic attainment or developmental milestones and rate of progress
  • information about the nature, extent, and context of the child's SEN
  • evidence of the actions already taken 
  • evidence that where progress occurred it was the result of additional interventions and support 
  • evidence of the child's social, emotional, and health needs and what has been done to meet these by other agencies. This should be evidence from clinicians and health professionals.

Next steps

Once submitted you will be notified by the EHC Team that your request has been accepted. This will then be considered by the Special Needs Assessment Panel (SNAP) which includes NHS professionals and people from the local authority. They will consider the request referencing criteria found within the SEN Code of Practice 0 to 25 years. You will be notified of the outcome within 6 weeks. 

Outcome of applicationNext steps 
The child does not meet the criteria for an assessment
  • You will be contacted by the EHC Officer with their reasoning for an assessment not being required
  • You will have a right to mediation and appeal. Please do not submit a formal request- instead, contact the Virtual School and area EHC Officer to request a case discussion or supporting professionals meeting
The child does meet the criteria for an assessment 
  • An EHC Caseworker is allocated as key point of contact
  • Supporting professionals are contacted to request updated professional advice
  • If the assessment was requested by the child's education setting you will be contacted to provide professional advice

It is important that all supporting professionals' advice and guidance are submitted promptly. A failure to do so will delay the process.

The process

  • The EHC Team will gather advice from relevant professionals about the child's education, health and care needs, their desired outcomes, and special educational health and special provisions required
  • You will be contacted to either confirm the advice submitted by you is still relevant and accurate or they will request further supporting professional advice
  • You and or the child's carer will be contacted by the EHC Caseworker to obtain their views
  • The EHC Caseworker will confirm with you that the submitted information is a fair and accurate reflection of the child's strengths, needs, and aspirations. 

Professional advice

When seeking information the EHC Team should consider what they can request to ensure the assessment will cover all relevant education, health, and care needs of the child.

Examples of advice could include:

  • educational advice from the current or previous school
  • Educational Psychology 
  • medical advice from health care professionals such as: Speech and Language Therapist or Occupational Therapist 
  • Virtual School
  • Youth Offending Team


Upon receipt of all professional advice the EHC Caseworker will submit the case to SNAP again. 

Outcome of applicationNext steps
The child does not meet the criteria for an assessment
  • You will be contacted by the EHC TEAM to offer a Way Forward meeting with the child's school and supporting professionals 
  • You will have a right to mediation and appeal. Please do not submit a formal request- instead contact the Virtual School and area EHC Officer for further advice
The child does meet the criteria for an assessment
  • An EHC Caseworker will write a Draft EHC Plan
  • They will sent the draft to you for consideration and approval 
  • You will be asked which school you would prefer for your child


You will receive a copy of the Draft EHC Plan. You should provide comments and feedback and confirm the accuracy of the description of the child. Add any amendments or additions you deem necessary and remember the draft informs the outcome of future school placements. 

School preference

You are expected to submit a school preference and you are entitled to state a preference for a mainstream or special school. This must be returned within 15 days of receiving the draft or you may delay obtaining a school placement.

The social worker, as the responsible corporate parent, must submit the preference for school or college. It must be considered with the child to directly understand their view on the potential placement. 

The Virtual School can offer advice and guidance about the suitability of a particular school placement based upon the child's needs set out in the EHC Plan. 

Finalising the school placement 

  • The EHC Officer will consider your preference and consult the school setting in accordance with the SEN Code of Practice 0 to 25 years
  • The EHC team will consult with any other setting which is deemed as potentially suitable in accordance with the child's SEN
  • The area EHC Officer will seek to finalise and agree the school or college placement in Part I of the EHC Plan
  • You will receive a final EHC Plan naming the setting in Part I. You have the right to appeal however, please do not submit a formal request. Instead request that a professionals meeting is held with the EHC team, Virtual School, and education setting

You may receive a Final EHC plan which names a type of setting rather than a specific placement. Education settings are expected to respond to a consultation within 15 days, however, schools may take longer.

Since the local authority is required to issue the Final EHC Plan within 20 weeks it may not include a specific placement. However, the duty remains in securing appropriate education provision for the child at the earliest opportunity. 

Post 16 EHC guidance 

Young people must be at the centre of planning, and they should be worked with to develop co-ordinated approaches securing better outcomes. They must be invited to every PEP and Annual Review to provide their perspective when planning a transition to adulthood.

A shared vision and strategy should be developed which focuses on aspirations and outcomes utilising information from EHC Plans, PEPs, and other planning. It should anticipate the needs of the young person ensuring there are pathways into employment, independent living, participation in society, and good health.

From Year 9 and every review thereafter the EHC Plan review must focus on preparing for adulthood. Young people should be supported to exercise choice and control over their lives. This includes preparing for adulthood outcomes which are:

  • Moving into paid employment or higher education 
  • Independent living 
  • Having friends, and being a part of a community 
  • Being as healthy as possible 

Decision making rights

After statutory school age (16) the young person has the right to make requests and decisions. They are granted several rights regarding their EHC Plans. Their ability to express these should be managed with care. They include: 

  • Request a statutory EHC assessment until they turn 25 
  • Make representations about the content of their EHC Plan
  • Request a particular institution is named in their EHC Plan 
  • Request a personal budget for elements of their EHC Plan 
  • Appeal to the First Tier SEN Tribunal service 

Choosing a Post 16 pathway

The young person must follow a coherent study programme which provides adequate stretch and progression enabling them to achieve the best outcomes in adulthood.

Their options include:

  • full time study in school, college, or with a training provider
  • full-time work or volunteering (minimum 20 hours) combined with regulated part-time education, or training 
  • an apprenticeship or traineeship

  • in Year 11 the EHC Plan will be amended, and upon receipt you have 15 days to state a preference of setting for the young person
  • the local authority will consult the Post 16 setting to determine whether it can meet their special educational needs
  • once complete the young person is expected to directly apply to the setting themselves 
  • the final setting should be named by the local authority no later than 31 March
  • if the young person changes their preference contact the EHC Team

Colleges have similar responsibilities to schools to provide additional support to young people with special educational needs.

This may include:

  • access to a specialist tour of the setting 
  • independence and life skills 
  • making technology accessible 

Remember they will not be entitled to transport but may be entitled to Post 16 travel assistance.

You must ensure the young person is informed of the range of Post 16 options available to them. You can enable them to make an informed decision by providing support.

This could include:

  • working with them to review their progress
  • jointly planning their pathways 
  • challenging and inspiring them to make progress
  • ensuring the course they choose provides adequate progression
  • supporting the attendance of further education open evenings 
  • helping them to access independent advice and guidance

Last updated 04 April 2024