A step by step guide explaining the time it takes to arrange an Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP)
The EHC planning and assessment process should take no more than 20 weeks from the date of the request until the plan is issued, unless certain conditions occur (see the exceptions to time limits section).
We’ve broken the journey up so you can see what happens at each stage.
At key points in this process, if we make a decision that you don’t agree with, you have the right to appeal.
- the SEN team receive a request for an EHCP needs assessment and check that we have your written consent to sharing this information with others
- we write to you to introduce ourselves and explain the process
- we decide within no more than 6 weeks, but sooner if we can, whether an EHCP needs assessment is required and give you our decision. We aim to make this decision within 4 weeks
- if we don’t think an EHCP needs assessment is needed for your child or young person we’ll explain why. You and your child or young person will be given the opportunity to meet with us to talk about this. You have the right to appeal the decision not to start an assessment
- if we think that an EHCP needs assessment is needed for your child or young person we’ll need you to tell us more about them. We’ll need information from the following people:
- you and your child or young person
- your child or young person’s education setting
- an educational psychologist
- a community or consultant paediatrician
- a social worker
- any other professionals that work with your child or young person
Everyone we ask for information about your case must reply within 12 weeks from the date of the needs assessment request.
It’s important that you keep all appointments relating to your assessment. If you don't it could delay the process.
- we will start to write a draft EHCP using the information provided in the initial request and written reports and will send this to you and the other professionals to check.
- we’ll arrange an assessment meeting with you at around week 12 to discuss the draft EHCP to make sure it's accurate. Any professionals involved with your child or young person will be invited to this meeting.
- at the assessment meeting we'll ask you which school or college you would like your child to go to. If the EHCP is for a young person aged over 16 we'll ask them directly which school or college they would like to go to.
- we’ll present the draft EHCP to the SEND Panel. The local authority will decide whether to issue an EHCP or not on the basis of the information collected during the assessment. We'll also decide whether a mainstream or more specialist education is appropriate.
- if your preferred school or college is a specialist setting, we'll decide whether this is appropriate, based on the content of the draft EHCP*.
- we’ll write to you by no later than week 16, to let you know the decision we've made about whether to issue an EHCP or not. You have the right to appeal this decision if we are not going to issue an EHCP.
- if we'll be issuing an EHCP, we’ll send you a copy of the proposed plan. You have up to 15 days to read it and let us know if you’re happy with it, or if you’d like any final changes made.
- at the same time we will send the proposed EHCP to your preferred school or college to ask them if they can meet your child or young person’s needs and offer them a place. We'll share and discuss their response with you.*
- if we don’t agree to issue an EHCP we’ll share all the assessment information with your child or young person’s early years setting, school or college who will use this information to improve the SEN support they provide.
* The local authority must agree with a parent or young person’s preference for a school or college unless:
- the school or college is unsuitable for the child or young person’s age, ability, skills and SEND.
- the child or young person’s needs cannot be met in a way which will not affect the education of other children/young people already at the setting.
- placing the child or young person at the setting will be an inefficient use of the local authorities resources.
You’ll get the details of the final EHCP no later than week 20.
The final version of the plan will name the early years setting, school or college that your child or young person will be attending.
The support we’ve arranged in the plan will be put in place to help your child or young person from that point on. The education setting is legally obliged to deliver the support detailed in the EHC Plan.
Once issued, an EHCP is reviewed at least once a year, or every 6 months for children under the age of 5. This is called an Annual Review.
If your child or young person is not making progress, needs to move to a different education setting, or if you feel the content of the EHCP needs updating you should request an early Annual Review cycle by contacting the SEND Statuory Services Team or by talking to your child or young person's setting SENCo. You can ask the local authority to hold a review at any stage in the year and do not need to wait until the next review is due.
If you don't agree with the content of an EHCP, including the education setting named in section I, you can appeal to the SEND Tribunal. We will explain this process to you and you can seek further support from SENDiass.
- appointments with people from whom the local authority requested information are missed by the child or young person.
- the child or young person is absent from the area for a period of at least four weeks.
- exceptional personal circumstances affect the child or young person or their parent/carer.
- the education setting is closed for at least four weeks which may delay the submission of information from the school or other institution.
You should be informed if exemptions apply so that you are aware of and understand the reason. As soon as the conditions that led to the exemption no longer apply the process should be completed as quickly as possible.
For further information see section 9 on Advice and information for EHC needs assessments in the SEND Code of Practice: 0-25 years.