Change in circumstances
The information on this page is for families in England only. I live in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.
There are some situations what might mean your child's Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan changes or ceases (ends) completely.
EHC plans have no force outside England. If you are moving to another country please contact our helpline for advice.
If you are moving to another local authority within England, your son or daughter's EHC plan must be transferred from the old local authority to the new local authority.
You should tell your old local authority that you are moving at least 15 working days beforehand if possible, so that the transfer happens on the day of your move. Once the EHC plan has been transferred, the new local authority must provide everything in it straight away.
What will the new local authority do?
The new local authority can carry out the next annual review of the EHC plan following the usual timetable (see below), or it can bring the annual review forward. It can also decide to do a complete reassessment of your child's special educational needs.
Your son or daughter should not be left without education in the meantime. They should continue to attend the school or college named on the EHC plan, but if this isn't possible (for example because your new home is now too far away), your new local authority must arrange a suitable alternative education that meets their needs. This would usually be a temporary placement at a similar school or college in the area.
The new local authority must tell you what it is going to do within six weeks of your move.
If it is not doing a full reassessment of your child's needs, it must review the plan before one of the following deadlines, whichever is the later:
- Within 12 months of the plan being made, or within 12 months of the previous review.
- Within three months of the plan being transferred.
A review or reassessment may result in changes to the support in the EHC plan and to the school or college named in the EHC plan. You can appeal to the SEND Tribunal about any changes to the education sections (parts B, F and I) of the EHC plan.
Some children and young people with EHC plans make very good progress and only require a plan for part of their education. Others need help through a plan for the whole of their schooling and into college or other training.
Under the Children and Families Act 2014, the local authority can maintain an EHC plan until a young person reaches age 25. However, this is not an absolute right, and most young people will stop having an EHC plan at an earlier age.
A local authority can legally end a plan on a young person's 25th birthday. The local authority should only do this if the education and training outcomes in the EHC plan have been achieved. If the young person is part-way through a course, the local authority can, at their discretion, continue the EHC plan to the end of the academic year.
Support should not stop abruptly. Whatever their age, preparation for your son or daughter's transition to the next stage of their life should begin well before the EHC plan is due to end.
The EHC plan will stop in the following circumstances.
- When a young person leaves school or college and enters higher education (university level). EHC plans do not apply to university students, as there is a different system of support.
- When a young person over 16 moves into paid work (except apprenticeships).
- When a young person over 18 leaves education or training and does not wish to return.
Universities have duties under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments for disabled students. This can include support such as flexible seminar times, support for study skills or access to specialist computer equipment. Students with higher needs may qualify for a Disabled Students Allowance to fund specific help such as note takers, sign language interpreters or specialist IT equipment.
The local authority can decide to end the plan if your son or daughter no longer has special educational needs and/or does not need to stay in education or training. An EHC plan cannot stay in place if your son or daughter only has health or social care needs.
Before deciding to end the EHC plan, the local authority must consider the following:
- Whether your child still has special educational needs.
- Whether they need more time to achieve the education and training outcomes in their EHC plan.
Local authorities must make decisions on an individual basis. They should not end an EHC plan just because your son or daughter has reached 19, or because they have completed two years of further education.
The plan is no longer needed
The local authority can also cease the EHC plan if it is no longer 'necessary' to maintain it. The test for this is that your child no longer needs the special educational provision on the plan. Even if they still need support from health or social care, the EHC plan can be stopped if educational help is no longer required.
If your child is over 18, the local authority must still take into account whether they have met the educational outcomes in their EHC plan. The local authority must not automatically stop the plan just because your child has reached this age. Some young people want to stay in education past 18 or 19 or may need more time in education to help them move on to adult life
An EHC plan must also not be ceased just because an educational placement has broken down and a child or young person is out of education. In that circumstance, the local authority must review the plan.
The local authority's decision
In most cases the local authority will decide to cease a plan after an annual review. You, your child, and relevant professionals will have been involved in discussions, so the decision should not come as a surprise.
If the local authority wants to cease your child's EHC plan it must:
- Tell you that it is considering ceasing the plan (or tell your son or daughter directly if they are over 16).
- Consult you or your son or daughter.
- Consult the school or college.
There is no set format or timescale for getting your views but there is an overarching duty in law to involve you and your child in decisions.
The local authority must then tell you in writing that it is ceasing the plan and that you have the right to appeal.
The EHC plan will remain in place:
- If you do not appeal, until the deadline for appealing has past.
- If you appeal, until the Tribunal has made its decision.
Remember that if your child is over 16 then any decisions about their EHC plan pass in law directly to them. See our page on education beyond 16 for what this means.
I don't agree, what can I do?
If the local authority is asking for your views, here are some questions to think about:
- Does the plan need to be amended rather than ceased?
- Is your child's progress only as a result of getting the extra help in the plan?
- What would happen if this help were stopped?
- Has your child achieved the outcomes in the plan?
- If so, were the outcomes up to date and relevant?
- If your child is over 18, do they need longer in education to prepare them for adult life?
If you are the parent of a young adult, our factsheet on support in education for 19-24 year olds will be helpful.
If the local authority has decided to cease your child's EHC plan and you disagree, you have a right to mediation and/or appeal.
Breaks in education
Some young people may have a break in their education. This may happen, for example, if it takes a long time to find a suitable college, if they change their mind about a course, or if they become ill.
In such situations the EHC plan should continue. It should not be ended unless a review has been carried out and it is clear that the young person does not want to return to education.
If you live in Wales, read our information about the statementing process.
In Scotland, the system of support for children with additional support needs is called additional support for learning. You can read more about it on the Enquire website.
Call our helpline
Any questions about support at school? How to get an EHC plan? What kind of school is best for my child? Call our freephone helpline on 0808 808 3555 and talk to one of our education advisers.