Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

3. Extra help

An education, health and care (EHC) plan is for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through special educational needs support.

EHC plans identify educational, health and social needs and set out the additional support to meet those needs.

Requesting an EHC assessment

You can ask your local authority to carry out an assessment if you think your child needs an EHC plan.

A young person can request an assessment themselves if they’re aged 16 to 25.

A request can also be made by anyone else who thinks an assessment may be necessary, including doctors, health visitors, teachers, parents and family friends.

If they decide to carry out an assessment you may be asked for:

  • any reports from your child’s school, nursery or childminder
  • doctors’ assessments of your child
  • a letter from you about your child’s needs

The local authority will tell you within 16 weeks whether an EHC plan is going to be made for your child.

Creating an EHC plan

  1. Your local authority will create a draft EHC plan and send you a copy.

  2. You have 15 days to comment, including if you want to ask that your child goes to a specialist needs school or specialist college.

  3. Your local authority has 20 weeks from the date of the assessment to give you the final EHC plan.

Disagreeing with a decision

You can challenge your local authority about:

  • their decision to not carry out an assessment
  • their decision to not create an EHC plan
  • the special educational support in the EHC plan
  • the school named in the EHC plan

If you can’t resolve the problem with your local authority, you can appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal.

Personal budgets

You may be able to get a personal budget for your child if they have an EHC plan or have been told that they need one.

It allows you to have a say in how to spend the money on support for your child.

There are 3 ways you can use your personal budget. You can have:

  • direct payments made into your account - you buy and manage services yourself
  • an arrangement with your local authority or school where they hold the money for you but you still decide how to spend it (sometimes called ‘notional arrangements’)
  • third-party arrangements - you choose someone else to manage the money for you

You can have a combination of all 3 options.

Independent support for children of all ages

Independent supporters can help you and your child through the new SEN assessment process, including:

  • replacing a statement of special educational needs with a new EHC plan
  • moving a child from a learning difficulty assessment (LDA) to an EHC plan

You can find out how to get local support through: