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 might need more help than a mainstream school, college or nursery would normally provide at the level of SEN support. Such pupils will need an Education Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment to decide what help they need. This assessment can lead to an EHC plan.

What is an EHC plan?

An EHC plan is a legal document that describes a child or young person's special educational, health and social care needs. It 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".

Here's a bit more information  

Section A can be useful in providing a quick summary of your child. It should be based on information given by you and your child or young person. Section A is not legally binding, so the main detail of the plan should not be in here.

Section B describes your child's special educational needs i.e. what your child has difficulty with. The SEND code of practice defines four broad areas of SEN. Many local authorities structure the educational sections of the EHC plan in this way, but there is no obligation to do so. These areas are:

  • Cognition and learning.
  • Communication and interaction.
  • Social emotional and mental health.
  • Sensory and physical.

Section C contains any health care needs related to your child's condition or SEN. This can be physical or mental health difficulties, for example difficulties with eating, severe anxiety, or a medical condition such as epilepsy.

Section D contains any social care needs related to your child's special educational needs or disability. For example support to join in with activities outside home and school.

Section E contains the outcomes anticipated for your child. The outcomes describe what your child will be able to do as a result of getting the extra help in the EHC plan. Outcomes can be about reaching a particular educational level, or they can be things that are important to your child, such as being able to take part in an out of school activity.

Section F contains details of the help your child will get in school. This section must be specific and quantified. It should be very clear how much help, how often and who will give it. Therapies such as speech and language therapy must normally be in section F.

Section G is the healthcare provision required, for example medication, equipment such as a wheelchair, nursing support, monitoring seizures. 

Section H is social care provision. This might be short breaks, out of school activities or support for the family at home.

Section I names the school or other institution your child attends. In a draft EHC plan this must always be left blank, because this is when you can tell your local authority what school you want your child to go to.

If you have requested a personal budget, Section J will contain information about this. A personal budget is not extra money but a more flexible way of using the funding allocated to your child. See our separate information on personal budgets.

Section K contains all the reports gathered as part of the assessment process. 

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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