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Does my child need an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)?

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As the parent of a child who may have special educational needs, a disability or a medical diagnosis your child may receive some level of support at school which is different to their peers.

If you feel unsure whether your child is receiving as much support as they need, is achieving what you feel they are capable of or is potentially not at a school you feel can properly support your child, you might be thinking about what you should do next and whether your child might benefit from an EHCP.

What is an EHCP?

An EHCP is a written plan explaining, amongst other things, what your child’s special educational needs are, how those needs must be met, by whom, how and where your child is entitled to attend school. The contents of an EHCP are legally binding on the Local Authority (LA). Those that the Local Authority authorises to carry out the EHCP must do what the EHCP says, in the absence of which parents and carers have a cause of action to pursue legal proceedings against the Local Authority.

Why is this any better than the support I have agreed with school?

Some children may be receiving extra support from school without the need for an EHCP. This may work very well for your child and this might be all that is needed. Not every child might need or want an EHCP. For example,  there is a duty on schools (other than independent schools and special schools) under s66 of the Children and Families Act 2014 to use their best endeavours to support a child with special educational needs. Under s20 of the Equality Act there is a legal duty on schools including independent schools to make reasonable adjustments for those with disabilities. 

The difference between the support provided with an EHCP and without is that the LA has an absolute duty to provide everything that an EHCP states must be provided for the child in question. Without an EHCP, the type and level of support your child is receiving is at the discretion of school (or NHS/ LA depending on what is being received) and may be removed or altered without warning. This happens all too often and children may receive less support personalised to them than parents feel is needed to fully support their child. 

Key reasons to apply for an EHCP might be:

  1. More support than school can offer informally is needed possibly including more specialist input, blocks of therapy,  individual hours of teaching assistant support 
  2. Your child is not making expected progress/ is struggling in other ways eg. socially
  3. You consider a different school is required to meet your child’s needs

You can apply for an EHCP yourself. Have a look at our top tips for doing so and common myths around EHCP assessment.

If you would like advice on any aspect of the EHCP process or SEND law, please do get in touch or listen to our podcast episode.

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