This section contains feedback from families we spoke to – what they liked about the process and what was less helpful

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The EHC process is the steps children, families and young people can take from having their SEND identified to getting a plan put into action. Not all children, families and young people will go all the way though this process, but we have collected feedback on each of the steps and what parents say leads to a better experience.

What the Code of Practice says


Section 19 of the Children and Families Act 2014 makes clear that local authorities, in carrying out their functions under the Act in relation to disabled children and young people and those with special educational needs (SEN), must have regard to:

  • the views, wishes and feelings of the child or young person, and the child’s parents
  • the importance of the child or young person, and the child’s parents, participating as fully as possible in decisions, and being provided with the information and support necessary to enable participation in those decisions
  • the need to support the child or young person, and the child’s parents, in order to facilitate the development of the child or young person and to help them achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes, preparing them effectively for adulthood


These principles are designed to support:

  • the participation of children, their parents and young people in decision- making
  • the early identification of children and young people’s needs and early intervention to support them
  • greater choice and control for young people and parents over support
  • collaboration between education, health and social care services to provide support
  • high quality provision to meet the needs of children and young people with SEN
  • a focus on inclusive practice and removing barriers to learning
  • successful preparation for adulthood, including independent living and employment

What parents say leads to a good experience of the EHC process overall

Accessible referral routes
  • With
    • Simple self-referral processes (for example for parents of Home Educated Children, excluded children, children who have not yet entered educational provision, and young people aged 18 and over who are returning to education);
    • Allowance for referral from different practitioners (i.e. not just schools) with clear information on who can make a referral and how they go about doing it;
    • Early identification and intervention as opposed to “crisis intervention”;
    • A balance between the amounts of evidence required from referrers and the needs of decision-makers – in other words with limited barriers to initial referral.
Consideration of longer term ambitions and future implications
  • With
    • A truly 0-25 service – with high quality provision post-16 including full-time courses;
    • Post -16 information, advice and suitable support;
    • Plans that look to the future including the move into employment, independent living and for social interaction and positive activities (PAYP);
    • high aspirations and clear steps for how these are to be achieved.
Clear and transparent information
  • With
    • No jargon;
    • A clearly documented process (which includes who does what and when; how decision-making works; how to evoke the complaints procedure etc);
    • Straightforward paperwork and help to complete it if required;
    • A balance between information overload and parents being supported to understand what is available to them;
    • Professionals being transparent with them (for example, of reasons for process delays or what decisions are based on).
Support provided to families
  • With
    • Regular signposting to suitable and experienced support;
    • Appropriate information and support for young people;
    • An acknowledgement that parents may want, and have a right to, independent and/or circumstance-specific information, advice and support;
    • Awareness of emotional and social support needs to help decision-making, advise or assist parents through what may be a very stressful time.
A holistic needs assessment, driven by needs and aspiration
  • With
    • Appropriate education, health and care advice tailored to address educational support needs;
    • A person-centred approach – where all assessment and planning accurately reflects all aspects of the child, young person and family;
    • Details of the child/young person’s strengths and weaknesses and aspirations for now and the future;
    • Support for the whole families’ needs included (e.g. housing, behaviour management, respite, parental well-being as well as the child’s).
Effectively actioned plans
  • With
    • Consistently high quality SMART plans which are fit for purpose being issued;
    • EHC plans being clear to interpret, execute and resource to support the educational progress of children and young people with SEND
    • A process for determining EHC plans are being delivered as set out and action taken if not.
Joined up working
  • With
    • A “multi-agency team” set up that includes all professionals who have involvement with the child, along with the family (and their advocates);
    • clear processes for how this team works, roles and responsibilities;
    • A common understanding developed across the team by effective information sharing, which leads to advice and support needs being jointly agreed;
    • An Early Intervention approach taken;
    • Good practice and expertise being shared across child ages and professionals (e.g. The Team around the child and working in partnership philosophy, home visiting, key workers).
Suitable educational support to meet needs
  • With
    • A matching of provision to need, with outcomes and progress which can be (and are) monitored; in other words plans are SMART;
    • Available and accessible appropriate educational placements/provision;
    • High quality support in place speedily;
    • Wider/external provision agreed e.g. speech and language support; behavioural therapy or private providers;
    • Suitable educational provision with next steps set out for children and young people who are not deemed to need assessment or an EHC plan (ie for CYP who do not go through the whole process).
A monitoring and reviewing process in place
  • With
    • Effectiveness of plans being regularly reviewed;
    • All participants clear what the next steps are.
Parent and Young person involvement
  • With
    • Support to effectively understand, contribute and influence (for example with pre-meetings offered to families to explain what will happen; time allowed for them to consider their options, and families provided with copies of reports and assessments etc);
    • The young person’s voice effectively captured and accounted for;
    • Parents seen as equal partners in the process and experts on their own child/young person and families needs;
    • A non-adversarial approach with families listened to, supported and their contributions valued;
    • Support to make informed decisions – for example on placement options and implications for the short and longer term.

Click on a step to find out more detail

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General Information on SEND and EHCPs

The Family and Childcare Trust website provides information for parents on how to get a child assessed for SEN and the EHC Plan.


Flowchart of the school-based SEN support

The Special Needs Jungle has devised a flowchart about SEN support approved by the DfE. It summarises the support that is provided in school before a child is referred for an assessment of need.


Transition from statements/LDAs to EHCP

The Special Needs Jungle provides information for parents on what to expect when transferring from a Statement to an EHC Plan.


The Council for Disabled Children Making it Personal Report

The document sets out how Family Information Services are providing a high quality platform on which to build solutions to meet the challenges brought about by the new 0-25 SEND Code of Practice.



Resources for Health professionals working with families of children and young people with SEND (Note: You need to register to use)



Explore SEND policies and DfE outputs


Top Tips/Advice for parents requesting an EHC needs assessment

Top tips from the Special Needs Jungle on what parents need to consider when applying for an assessment of special educational needs.



NASEN provides a hub of policy information and resources