What is an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan?

My son's teachers understand his difficulties and he is making good progress

The information on this page is for families in England only. I live in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

Some children with special educational needs (SEN) in England need more help than a mainstream school, college or nursery would normally provide at the level of SEN support. These pupils receive support through an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.

An EHC plan is a legal document that describes a child or young person's special educational, health and social care needs, explains the extra help that will be given to meet those needs and how that help will support the child or young person to achieve what they want to in their life.

Who needs an EHC plan?

EHC plans are for children and young people whose special educational needs require more help than would normally be provided in a mainstream education setting (a college, school, nursery).

Although the plan can include health or social care needs, your child will not get a plan if they only have health or social care needs that do not affect their education.

An EHC plan can be issued to a child or young person between the ages of 0 and 25 years.

How do I get an EHC plan?

EHC plans are drawn up by the local authority after an EHC needs assessment. You, your child's education setting or your child, if over 16, can ask your local authority to carry out an assessment.

What does an EHC plan/draft EHC plan look like?

There is no national standard format for the EHC plan. However it must have certain sections that are clearly labelled.

The sections are:

A: The views, interests and aspirations of you and your child.
B: Special educational needs (SEN).
C: Health needs related to SEN.
D: Social care needs related to SEN.
E: Outcomes - how the extra help will benefit your child
F: Special educational provision (support).
G: Health provision.
H: Social care provision.
I: Placement - type and name of school or other institution (blank in the draft plan (link to info about draft plan))
J: Personal budget arrangements.
K: Advice and information - a list of the information gathered during the EHC needs assessment.

The different sections may at first seem like a confusing alphabet soup. It can help to understand that there are three sections on needs (i.e. your child's difficulties) that are matched by corresponding provision (the help your child will get) to meet those needs:

  • "Section B: Special educational needs" are met by "Section F: special educational provision".
  • "Section C: Health care needs" are met by "Section G: health care provision".
  • "Section D: Social care needs" are met by "Section H: social care provision".

See our page on getting an EHC draft plan for a more detailed look at each section.

Annual review of the plan

The plan must be reviewed at least once a year. At the end of the review the local authority may make changes to the plan, end it or leave it unchanged. Read more about annual reviews.

How long does the plan last?

The plan will remain in place until your child leaves education or the local authority decides that your child no longer needs the plan to help them in their education. If you move to another local authority the plan will be transferred. See more about a change in circumstances.

Related information

Information for families in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

If you live in Wales, read our information about the statementing process.

Find out about the system of support for children with special educational needs in Northern Ireland on the NI Education Authority website or Senac (special educational needs advice centre).

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.

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