Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP)

A legal document for an individual child or young person.

An Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is a legal document for an individual child or young person aged 0-25 years with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), which sets out a description of their educational, health and social care needs and the provision that must be implemented in order to help them achieve key life outcomes. It also includes information about the child or young person’s aspirations, and for those in Year 9 or above, information about preparation for adulthood.

EHCPs bring together practitioners from different agencies to contribute to a single assessment and plan for the child or young person. In Leeds, the Special Educational Needs Statutory Assessment.

The majority of children and young people with SEND can have their needs met within their local mainstream school, early years setting, college or training provider through the setting’s existing resources without the need for an EHCP.


Assessment steps and timescales

The SEND Code of Practice sets out the statutory timescales for the EHC needs assessment and EHC plan development. 

Click here to view the timescales document.

Assessments take around 20 weeks to complete. They focus on a child's educational needs and the support that they need to be able to learn.

  • Making a decision: we have up to six weeks to decide if your child needs an assessment. To do this, they hold a panel to discuss the child's needs and decide if an assessment is needed.
  • Making a decision at panel: we will decide if your child needs an assessment or not based on the evidence provided.
  • Gathering evidence: In the six weeks after the decision is made, if we think your child does need an assessment, we will gather any further evidence from our own teams, the school SENCo, parents and carers and any healthcare professionals involved.
  • Writing a draft plan: Within twelve weeks of the request, if it is agreed that your child needs an education health and care plan (EHCP), we will start to write a draft. This can take between two and three weeks. We will send you a copy of the draft EHCP and you will have 15 days to respond in writing.
  • Right to request a meeting: Sixteen weeks from the initial request, if it is agreed that your child needs an education health and care plan (EHCP), you have the right to request a meeting. We will do our best to accommodate your request and arrange a virtual or face to face meeting, depending on capacity.
  • Final version of the plan: Within 20 weeks of the request for an assessment, a final version of the plan must be available.


The SENSAP team is the local authority’s Special Educational Needs Statutory Assessment and Provision team.

SENSAP’s aim is to enable children and young people with complex Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) to access the right educational support and provision and to achieve their life aspirations.

The SENSAP team have a number of functions, including:

  • creating Education Health and Care Plans
  • Monitoring and quality assuring special educational provision within educational
  • Managing the delegation of funds to educational settings
  • Supporting accessibility in educational settings for students with disabilities

For general enquiries and more information about EHCPs, monitoring and quality assurance, you can contact SENSAP at or call 0113 376 0062

Click here to view the SENSAP staffing structure

SEN Casework Officer

A SEN Casework Officer's role is to facilitate an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Assessment from start to finish, and then to maintain the EHC Plan afterwards through an annual review.

Personal Advice

SEN Casework Officers are not advice providers themselves, but pull together various pieces of advice from the family and from professionals and services who are working with the child or young person.

Schools and Educational Placements

SEN Casework Officers can help families to understand their options in relation to placements in schools and educational settings for children and young people with EHC Plans. They will work with educational settings to determine whether they can meet their needs and offer a place. Where this isn't possible they will find an alternative suitable option.

Bringing People Together

SEN Casework Officers can help to coordinate different individuals and services to contribute to child or young person's EHC Plan, such as seeking advice from health professionals or social workers, where they are involved. SEN Casework Officers can signpost families on how to make referrals to other local services who may need to become involved to support the child or young person.

Click here to view the 'what is an SEN casework officer' document

SEN Casework Officer School Allocations (Pre-school to Year 10)

Officers are allocated to Leeds maintained schools and academies, roughly in areas of schools (known as Families of Schools). Children and young people attending an independent school, a school outside of Leeds, or not on the roll of a school, will usually be allocated to the officer of the school most recently attended. Children who have not yet started school will usually be allocated based on the nearest Leeds school to their home address.

Click here to view the list of Leeds schools and the assigned SEN Casework Officer.


EHC Plan Standardisation Pilot

SEND & AP (Alternative Provision) Change Programme

In March 2023 the government released its SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan. The Improvement Plan listed a range of reforms that the government intends to introduce to improve the support available for children and young people with SEND.

In order to test and trial the proposed reforms, the government is working with a small number of authorities, including Leeds City Council to undertake a Change Programme. There are several ongoing workstreams that Leeds will be piloting over the next few years. Further details about these workstreams will be made available as soon as possible.

EHC Plan Standardisation pilot

One of the workstreams is to trial the proposal for a new, national standardised EHC Plan template. The Department for Education (DfE) has published a template which they have created following a series of consultations with parent/carer forums, children and young people focus groups, and other stakeholder events.


The DfE says that a good EHC Plan will be coproduced, legally compliant, will help a child or and young person achieve outcomes that help them prepare for adulthood. It will be:

  • Positive: describing the child/ young person positively, backed with appropriately stretching outcomes which they are supported to achieve.
  • Clear: short, focused, plans everyone involved understands, based on clear outcomes and the preparation for adulthood goals which are relevant to the child/ young person and their families. There will be a clear golden thread between ‘need, provision and outcomes’.
  • Deliverable: the contents of the plan will be based on good quality advice, focused on ‘live’ issues, have provision that is specified and quantified, and will provide an audit trail.

In detail, that means:

  • Personalised to the individual child/ young person
  • Positive, clear language: In writing an EHCP, the LA needs to be aware that it is primarily for the child/ young person, the parent and the setting, and should therefore use clear, unambiguous language. Jargon, acronyms, or very specific educational and medical terms should either be avoided or explained in simple terms.
  • Concise: EHCPs should be as succinct as possible while ensuring they contain the required information. It may be helpful to draw attention to particular elements of the appended advice, such as detailed intervention strategies, but these should not be repeated at length in the EHCP.
  • The template that the DfE has created, they believe, enables EHC Plans to fulfil these essential criteria. The proposal is that once the template is agreed it will be used for every child/young person in every local authority across the country.

Evaluation criteria

The DfE has set out the following success measures, which will test through our evaluations:

For children, young people, parents and carers:

  • Did you feel the final plan described you/ your child well (e.g. needs, aspirations, and support)?
  • Do you feel it will help you/ your child in their education/ training?
  • Was it easy to read and understand?
  • How could it be improved?

For schools, settings and other advice providers:

  • Is the format of this plan an improvement on previous plans issued by the authority in terms of:
  • Accessibility?
  • Description of child (or young person’s) strengths, aspirations?
  • Description of needs?
  • Description of provision - sufficiently detailed, specified, and quantified?
  • Will it be manageable for the purpose of annual reviews?
  • Did you find that, compared to using your LA's previous template, using this template generally took:
  • Less time?
  • About the same amount of time?
  • More time?

For SEN Casework Officers:

  • Did you find the template effective in capturing all the child/ young person’s needs?
  • Did you find the template helped you produce quality, lawful plans?
  • Is there anything missing from the template?
  • Have there been any implications from an equality and diversity perspective?
  • Did you find that, compared to using your LA's previous template, using this template generally took:
  • Less time?
  • About the same amount of time?
  • More time?

What's new about it?

Whilst there are a multitude of nuanced changes, there are three main noticeable differences:

  1. The way it looks: In Leeds we spent lots of time working with our families and children and young people to design the look of our EHC Plans, from the design of the front cover and backgrounds, to the way that titles and headings were written. The DfE's new version is much more stripped back, and is a very basic black and white Word document. Headings are written differently than we had written them, and the design features are different. Each section is a 'heading' which means it can be expanded and contracted in Word documents to make sections more easily accessible and the document easier to read.
  2. Section A: The new version has a much shorter section A, limited to an absolute maximum of 2 pages (about 3,000 words). We will still be able to copy and paste pictures/photos and the 'raw' views of children and young people where this is provided. It is likely that the bulk of parents' views will remain in the appendices, with summarised highlights appearing in the relevant parts of Section A.
  3. Needs, provision and outcomes grids: You will see that the main change is that needs will be written alongside the relevant provision and the associated outcomes in a grid format. The theory is that this will support writers and readers to notice and consider the 'golden thread'. When we've tested it this does appear to work well, but does mean that Section B is likely to be much more concise than in previous versions. There is additional focus on Section F, G and H being more specific and quantified, which we agree is very important.

When is this all happening?

All EHC Plans that are written by Leeds City Council from 15/11/2023, at least until Christmas, will be on the new, standardised format. There is a description on the front cover of the EHC Plan which describes the pilot, and explains that, despite it's new look, the EHC Plan is a full, legal, plan which is compliant with the Children and Families Act 2014. It should be given the same weight and rigour as any other EHC Plan.

Parents/carers, schools/settings and other advice providers will be given the opportunity to give their thoughts, comments and feedback on the new template once the plan is finalised. A link to an online form will be in the letter accompanying the final EHC Plan.

SENSAP will be talking about the new format in SENCo networks across the Autumn term. Once the evaluation is complete, evaluation feedback will be consolidated and we will organise a small number of focus groups to share and discuss our findings.

If you have any specific feedback about a specific EHC plan, please continue to go directly to your casework officer.

How can I be involved?

If you receive a new draft EHC Plan between now and Christmas then you are automatically involved in the pilot and we would love for you to provide your feedback. A link to the online form will be in the letter accompanying the child/YP's final EHC Plan.

We are also looking for SENCos and school leaders to be part of the focus groups after Christmas. If you're interested, please click here where there are further details.

What happens after the pilot?

This is a really important opportunity for Leeds families, educational settings and the council to be part of shaping the future of all EHC Plans across the country. We want to make sure we gather as much feedback as possible so that we can advise the DfE from a really strong position. We have been reassured that our feedback will be listened to and acted upon.

It's likely that the eventual template itself won't be introduced nationally for some years yet. Depending upon how the pilot goes we will make a decision as to whether to adopt the template in Leeds, or revert back to the original version. Further information will be made available around April 2024.

Thank you in advance for working with us throughout this pilot.

What to do if you're unhappy with a decision about your child's EHCP or you need help solving disagreements

We want to work with you to provide the best service possible. If you are unhappy with anything relating to your child's education health and care plan (EHCP) application, assessment or plan, please contact us directly.


Phone: 0113 376 0062

SENSAP Update - March 2024

Y6 and N2s update

By 15 February every year local authorities are required to provide parents/carers of children with EHC Plans in Nursery and Year 6 the name of the school to which they are expected to transfer in the following September. This year, we saw over 420 children in this cohort, by far the largest we’ve ever seen (by way of comparison, last year was just over 300).

This year SENSAP have:

  • Contacted 295 parents by phone over the two week finalising window.
  • Issued final EHC Plans following reviews for 349 out of 350 children, plus an additional 46 EHC Plans for children in Y6/Nursery who didn’t previously have an EHC Plan and therefore weren’t subject to the same deadline. That’s 395 final EHC plans created over the two week finalising window.
  • 70% parents were given one of their top 3 preferences (67% first preference, 3% were given either second or third preference).
  • 8% parents did not get one of their listed preferences, but were given a school that the local authority considers to be a suitable, alternative school.
  • There are 76 EHC Plans that were finalised without a destination named, pending further consultations. This is due to a number of reasons, either we were still waiting for responses, the parent had changed their mind, or because we couldn’t contact the school for last minute negotiation due to half-term.

Since 15 February SENSAP have reconsulted with mainstream schools and are consolidating their responses this week for around 20 to 30 children. Another 40 to 50 children are likely to require a specialist setting, and we have been working with our special schools to determine if/what additional capacity might now be available following confirmation of all the previous places. They've also worked hard to look at possible expansions where possible.

The team have done a brilliant job at getting this far, and are working hard on the remainders. We’ve given every family without a destination an ultimate deadline of 31 March by which we will notify them of the authority’s intentions.

Our post-16 team are already working hard on our Year 11/14 Phase Transfers, which are due to be finalised by 31 March. 

Specialist placements

Many schools and families have been patiently waiting for us to identify specialist school placements for September 2024. We have tried to be open and transparent that we need to complete our Phase Transfers first, before then allocating additional places out.

SENSAP have already started this process, and have already allocated a further 40 places so far. Please be patient while we continue to consolidate all of the information; we will be in touch as soon as an offer is confirmed.

Following a huge amount of work we are able to expand our specialist and resource provision offers this September by between 150 and 200 places, across the city. It is important to note that we are still likely to experience significant pressures on finding places for every child that wants one, but we are continuing to work toward additional provision over the subsequent months and years.

Further details about these provisions will be published once formal consultations and due diligence is completed.

PwC review

As you may know, PriceWaterhouseCooper (PWC) have been working with the council to review SEN systems. Here's an updated provided by Dan Barton (Deputy Director for Learning) on 08 March 2024:

“Work towards finalising the detail of our plans to improve the effectiveness of our EHCP assessment and issuing process continues. I will be meeting with the Chief Executive of the Council, Tom Riordan next week to share with him our draft plan and milestones towards improvement and will share this with you all at the earliest opportunity. I plan to speak to some of this at the Secondary Head Teachers meeting coming up later in March, and at Family of Schools meetings over the course of the next few months. I will also put in place virtual meetings to provide summary briefings for colleagues unable to make any in-person meetings.”