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Special Education Needs

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can affect a child or young person’s ability to learn. They can affect their:

  • behaviour or ability to socialise, for example they struggle to make friends

  • reading and writing, for example because they have dyslexia

  • ability to understand things

  • concentration levels, for example because they have ADHD

  • physical ability

What is an Education Health and Care Plan?

An Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) describes your child’s special educational needs (SEN) and the help they will get to meet them. An EHCP also includes any health and care provision that is needed. It is a legal document written by the local authority and is intended to ensure that children and young people with an EHCP receive the support they need. EHCPs replaced Statements of Special Educational Need and Section 139 Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDA) on 1 September 2014. EHCPs are for children and young people who need more support than their school or other setting can provide. The plans can start from a child’s birth and continue into further education and training (from 0 to 25).

Who needs an EHC Plan?

EHCPs are for children and young people who have a special educational need or disability that cannot be met by the support that is available at their school or college. Most children and young people with special educational needs will have help given to them without the need for an EHCP. This is called SEN support. The purpose of SEN support is to help children achieve the outcomes or learning objectives that have been set for them.

Some children and young people may not make the progress expected of them even with this help. When this happens the Local Authority carry out an EHC needs assessment. A few children and young people have such significant difficulties/needs that an EHC needs assessment should not be delayed. You or your child’s school can ask the local authority to make an EHC needs assessment. When this assessment is finished the local authority must decide whether to issue and EHC Plan.

Who can ask for an 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.

Creating an EHC plan

Your local authority will create a draft EHC plan and send you a copy. You have 15 days to comment, including if you want to ask that your child goes to a specialist needs school or specialist college.  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

Free SEN Webinar


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

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Team Members

Ceri Mawson
Trainee Solicitor
Debbie Anderson
Solicitor | Director | Head of The Health and Community Care Team
Sonal Lala
Senior Solicitor

SEN & Education Review | March 2021

Posted on April 1, 2021

As March marked the month that many children were able to return back into full time education, it was a welcome relief for many families. However, for some it meant recommencing battle for their child’s education.

Read More

News and media

  • News
    • Posted on September 24, 2020
      On the 1st May 2020 certain aspects of the law on education, health and care (EHC) needs assessments and Plans changed temporarily to give local authorities, health commissioning bodies, and others whose roles contribute to these processes more flexibility in responding to the demands placed on them by coronavirus. These temporary changes relaxed the timescales and deadlines by which local authorities and others needed to adhere to in relation to EHC Plans.
    • Posted on June 16, 2020
      Join us for our free SEN webinar “Life After Lockdown – Getting it right”

      Hear from our specialist SEN legal team on issues which will include:
    • Posted on June 4, 2020
      The Government has provided further guidance on the temporary changes to special educational needs and disability legislation during the Covid-19 outbreak. It is important to note that the duties in law over EHC needs assessments and plans have not been “turned off” but may have changed temporarily for some aspects.

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