An Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is a legal document which describes a child or young person’s special educational needs and disabilities and the provision they need in order to secure the best possible outcomes in education and education-related health and social care. As they get older, it should also prepare them for adulthood.

A boy wearing ear defenders to block out noise is sitting at a table in a classroom colouring in a picture

It is provided by the LA for a child or young person between the ages of 0-25 years who needs more support in education than is available within a mainstream school’s normal resources.

The EHCP sets out not just educational needs and provision, but also any education-related health and social care needs and provision. The LA is legally bound to ensure what is set out as provision in Section F will be delivered.

It normally names a school or setting where that provision will be delivered. Parents are able to express their preference for an educational setting. See our comprehensive EHCP info sheet that gives more detail on what goes into an EHCP, and our info sheet on how you can negotiate an EHCP.

An EHC needs assessment is required in order to secure an EHCP. An EHCP may not always be required, but there is a legal process that the LA must follow to determine whether this is the case.

Issuing an EHCP

If the LA decides to issue a plan, it must first consult with parents by issuing a draft. Parents have at least 15 days to review the draft and feedback to the LA their comments.


Each LA has their own template but the EHCP must have the following sections:

  • Section A: child’s/parent’s views
  • Section B: needs
  • Section C: health needs
  • Section D: social care needs
  • Section E: outcomes
  • Section F: provision
  • Section G: health provision
  • Section H 1 and 2: social care provision
  • Section I: name and type of placement (this is not stated in the draft plan)
  • Section J: any personal budget arrangements
  • Section K: list of evidence that has informed the plan

The EHCP must be reviewed annually, at Annual Review, until the age of 25, or until it is no longer required, whichever is the first. For under 5s it is recommended that reviews take place at least every 6 months.

Statutory processes exist for how the LA must create and review EHCPs and parents are able to appeal decisions made by the LA if they do not agree.

There are a variety of ways we can support you to review your draft. We can provide a comprehensive written review of your draft EHCP that considers the evidence and reports, and the content that has been provided or see links below to our tools and guidance.

Common Myths and Questions

Yes, you can ask for an independent special school. The LA must consult with schools specified in Section 38 (3) which includes independent special schools and special post-16 institutions approved by the Secretary of State under section 41. The LA does not have the same duty to consult with other independent schools, however they must consider the request. Although they are not under the same duty to name the preferred independent placement, the LA must have regard to the general principle that children should be educated in accordance with their parents’ wishes, so long as this is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training and does not mean unreasonable public expenditure.

Some LAs put pressure on parents to sign the EHCP. There is no requirement in law for this to happen, nor indeed is there a requirement for the parent to agree the EHCP at all. Even if the parent has said that they agreed it (which sometimes happens when the parent has been unable to obtain proper advice), that does not prevent a tribunal appeal.

This is not the case. The LA is responsible, under Section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014, for ensuring that the provision set out in Section F of the EHCP is being delivered. If the school is not delivering the provision, you need to make the LA aware - we suggest email rather than phone - and ask it to remedy the situation with the school immediately so that it can meet its statutory duties under the Act.  If the LA fails to do this, parents are able to consider judicial review. Be aware, however, that the LA may decide to deal with this by naming a different school.
That is not accurate. Any conditions that impact the child or young person's ability to learn should go into Section B.  For example, a speech and language delay might be identified by a health professional, in this instance, a speech and language therapist, but as the delay impacts the ability to communicate socially and educationally, this is an educational need and belongs in Section B. If a child or young person's mobility issues impact their ability to access a classroom, and/or require them to have support to do so, this should also be listed in Section B.
Whilst we know that young people's needs may still be part of their education, health and social care presentation, an EHCP does not cover a young person whilst at university. However, the EHCP should not be ceased until that young person has transitioned to university, and it is confirmed that provision is no longer required and that outcomes have been met.
Parents can request the local authority consults with schools that are specified in Section 38 (3) of the Children and Families Act 2014. Those are:
  • a maintained school;
  • a maintained nursery school;
  • an Academy;
  • an institution within the further education sector in England;
  • a non-maintained special school;
  • an institution approved by the Secretary of State under section 41 (independent special schools and special post-16 institutions: approval).
If you are asking the LA to consult with one or more, that are within these categories, the local authority must consult with those schools.  If the local authority is advising you it can only consult with one school, or it cannot consult with specialist schools, or that school can only be a section 41 school, this is not correct. It may be their policy but the law is clear and it cannot refuse to consult.  That doesn't mean it will choose to name it. But they must consult with the school you request under Section 39 (2) of the Children and Families Act 2014.  

Find out more: