Help for people with high support needs

Find out what an EHCP is and who they can help

What an EHCP is

An Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is a legal document that sets out a child or young person's special educational, health and social needs and how those needs should be met. It sets outcomes that the child or young person wants to achieve in life.

They are regularly reviewed to make sure the support your child receives is working for them.

When an EHCP can help

For most children, all schools have resources that can support them. In Essex you can use a One Plan to help make a long-term plan of action for your child.

Find out more about One Plans

In some cases, this is not enough. EHCPs are for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more help than is available through special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) support. You do not need a medical diagnosis to apply for an EHCP.

These plans are for when you have tried all other options and still need more help. An EHCP can result in extra funding and support. 

Consider asking your local authority for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment if your child:

  • has high support needs 
  • a life-long disability
  • is receiving support from a wide range of services
  • is not making progress even though the support is increasing in type and amount

Who can request an assessment

You can ask for an assessment for your child from your local authority.

If you are not sure who your local authority is, find your local council on the GOV.UK website.

You will need to fill in an EHC Needs Assessment form:


Alongside this form, you must also complete a Permissions form:


It can help to speak to your child's Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) and work on the application together.

An application can also be made to your local authority by:

  • your child's nursery, school or college
  • from other professionals like your doctor or health visitor

Any request must be with your knowledge and agreement.

The form for professionals is on the Essex Infolink website

How the assessment works

Once the council receives a request for an EHC needs assessment, the local authority have up to six weeks to decide whether to carry out an assessment.

The local authority will speak to your child’s school or other setting for information to help decide the next steps. The panel includes Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Operation staff, headteachers, social care professionals and health professionals.

It can help to gather:

  • all the reports and letters from your child’s school or other setting
  • doctor’s reports 
  • their One Plan if you have one
  • any other assessments your child has had 

If your local authority decides to proceed, they'll gather more information and advice. They’ll speak to people who work with your child, including health and social care professionals. Your local authority must involve you and your child in this process too. By week 16, a decision will be made at a panel on whether the child needs an EHCP or their needs can be met by existing support.

If your local authority decides not to do an assessment

Your local authority will give you feedback if they decide not to proceed with an assessment. If you do not agree, you have the right of appeal to tribunal.

Find out more about mediation and tribunals.

Your local authority must tell you why they’ve decided this within 16 weeks of the date they received a request for an assessment.

What happens if your local authority decides to issue an EHCP

If the local authority decide to issue an EHCP, they will first send out a draft plan for the parent or young person to review and comment on. You'll have 15 days to comment on the draft and you can ask for a meeting to discuss it if you want one.

At that point you will also be able to request a specific school, or other setting, you want your child to attend. This could be a mainstream school or special school.

Your local authority then speaks to the chosen school to support them to deliver what’s in the plan. They have 20 weeks from the request for the EHC needs assessment to issue the final plan to you. 

How often EHCPs are reviewed

Your local authority must review your child’s EHCP at least every 12 months. This is called an annual review. It must include working with you and your child. This is a chance to tell your local authority what you think and what you want to happen. There will be a meeting which you must be invited to.

For advice on preparation and planning for an annual review, you can watch a video on Essex County Council's YouTube channel.