EHC plans

4 mins read

This advice applies in England only. Read information for families in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans are for disabled children and young people with special educational needs (SEND) who require more help than a mainstream nursery, school or college can usually provide from its own resources.

In this article

What is an EHC plan?

An Education, Health and Care (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 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 (SEN) require more help than would normally be provided in nursery or at the level of SEN support in school.

Children with an EHC plan may go to a mainstream school or a special school, depending on their needs. In a special school there are only pupils with special educational needs, and they will usually have needs that are more complex. The school may have specially-trained teachers, therapists or special equipment to support them.

Although an EHC 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?

You as a parent, your child’s nursery, school or college or your child, if over 16, can ask your local authority to carry out an EHC needs assessment.

If the local authority agrees to assess, the assessment will determine whether your child needs an EHC plan and, if so, the support within it.

What does an 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); these correspond to three sections on provision (the help your child will get) to meet those needs:

  • “Section B: Special educational needs” corresponds to “Section F: special educational provision”.
  • “Section C: Health care needs” corresponds to”Section G: health care provision”.
  • “Section D: Social care needs” corresponds to”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 move across too. See more about a change in circumstances.

SEND Code of Practice

See the SEND Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years in England. [PDF].

Related information