How to get an Education, Health and Care Plan

Information for parent carers about assessments for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and how to get one.

Important information

  • Make sure you have read our 'Before you request' section below. This will help to explain whether an EHCP is right for you.
  • Not all applications for an Education Health Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) meet the criteria for an assessment to take place.
  • Not all EHCNAs result in an EHCP.

Before you request an EHCNA

  • Before you request an EHCNA discuss the request with your child or young person’s current education provider.

    Find out more on the page who to talk to about your child's progress.

  • Teachers take into account the different rates of progress of their students and carry out regular assessments to monitor individuals. They plan lessons to ensure that all pupils can learn. 

    This means they identify any students that are not progressing at the expected rate for their age and circumstances.

    If a teacher sees that your child is not making the expected progress, they can give support by following the 'Assess, Plan, Do, Review' cycle.

    Mainstream schools or settings are able to meet the special educational needs or disability requirements of most children and young people. This is termed 'ordinarily available provision'.

    The 'Ordinarily Available Inclusive Practice' guide gives more detail about what support schools and other mainstream settings should provide for children.

  • SEND support identifies areas of need and puts in place support to meet that need. Reviews happen after the support is in place. If the additional support is helpful it may continue. If it is not, a school or setting may call upon specialist expertise.

    A request for an EHCNA is appropriate if SEND support has not led to progress for the child or young person.

How parent carers can request an EHCNA

If you are a parent carer or a young person aged 16 or over, you are able to make a request for Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA).

You can make a request by emailing the Special Educational Needs Assessment Team (SENAT) directly, including the following information where appropriate:

  • Name of child or young person.
  • Child or young person's date of birth.
  • Child or young person's home address.

For parent carer (with parental responsibility) only:

  • Parent carer name.
  • Parent carer home address if different.
  • Parent carer contact details, including email and phone.

For all requests:

  • Social worker contact details if appropriate.
  • Name of education setting or other educational arrangement.
  • Reason for request: including why your child or young person has or may have special educational needs, and why may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person through the issuing of an EHCP.
  • Attach any evidence (for example evidence identifying Special Educational Need from an appropriate professional) you may wish to be considered by the Local Authority.

Send this to:

You can find out more about the role of the SENAT team on their West Sussex SEN Assessment Team (SENAT) webpage.

Application timescales

  • Week 1 begins when the Local Authority receives an application for an EHCNA.

    The authority has six weeks to decide whether to carry out an EHCNA. This happens at an EHCNA Consideration Panel.

    The panel has two options:

    1. Agree to an EHCNA.
    2. Refuse to carry out an EHCNA.

    If the panel refuse the application, parent carers have the right to appeal. See the information page EHCNA has not been agreed.

  • If the Consideration Panel agree to an EHCNA, carrying out the assessment can take up to 16 weeks.

    You can find information about possible outcomes  of the assessment and your right to appeal on the page EHCNA has been agreed.

  • If the authority agrees an EHCP they have 4 weeks to produce a draft plan.

    You will receive a copy of the plan to review. For more information see the page I have a draft EHCP.


  • Whilst the EHCNA must take no longer to process than 20 weeks from the date the request is received, there are some exceptions:

    • If a family misses an appointment that is linked to the ECHNA.
    • The child or young person is absent from the area for a period of at least 4 weeks.
    • Exceptional personal circumstances affect the child or his/her parent, or the young person.
    • The educational institution is closed for at least 4 weeks, which may delay the submission of information from the school or other institution (this does not apply to the duty on partners to comply with a request under the EHCNA process within six weeks).

Draft EHCPs

By the end of the 20 weeks, you may have a draft EHCP, if the Local Authority considers that one is needed.

At the draft stage, you can ask the Local Authority (LA) to consider setting up a personal budget for educational provision for your child or young person or when the plan is being reviewed.

The personal budget is the notional amount of money that would be needed to cover the cost of delivering the special educational provision identified in the EHCP. You can also ask the LA to consider whether elements of the personal budget can be received as a direct payment.

A head teacher or principal may disagree to a direct payment being made for special educational provision if they are delivering the provision in their school or college.

There is no right of appeal if an LA decides not to agree to a personal budget but you can ask them to review the decision.

You can also express a preference for a school at this stage. See I have a draft EHCP.

Changes to an EHCP

The EHCP must be reviewed within 12 months of it being issued, or 3 to 6 months if the child is under 5. The process for this is called an annual review. At the end of this review, a meeting should be held to discuss whether the needs and provision set out in the plan are still appropriate.

Once the Local Authority receive the paperwork from the review, there will be opportunity to appeal against any refusal to amend the plan (Sections B, F & I) if you do not agree with the LA’s decision.

If you are concerned that your child’s needs have significantly changed and you are not due for an annual review, you can request an interim or emergency review of the EHCP.

Rights to appeal, advocacy and support

At some points in the EHCNA process, you have a right to appeal. You may also need support and advocacy during the process.

For more information see our Appeals, Advocacy and Support page.


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