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Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans

Most deaf children and young people's needs can be met from within their education setting’s own resources. With support from their local authority’s (council) sensory service there may be no need to go beyond the special educational needs (SEN) support stage.

This means that the majority of deaf children with special educational needs (SEN) will get all the extra help they need through SEN support and won’t need an EHC plan. However, if your child’s early years setting or school cannot provide enough support themselves, you or the setting can ask for a formal assessment of their education, health and care (EHC) needs, possibly leading to an EHC plan.

Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans

An EHC plan is a legal document which sets out:

  • what your child’s needs are
  • what support they should receive
  • where they should go to school. 

An EHC plan is usually only needed if your child is attending or planning to attend a school which can’t provide all the support your child needs or if it’s unlikely they’ll be able to. To attend a special school, most children will need an EHC plan. 

Children with SEN do not have an automatic right to an EHC plan. To get an EHC plan, your child will need a statutory assessment.

If your child is getting SEN support but isn’t making as much progress as they should, or you don’t think the school can provide the support they need, you can ask for an EHC plan.

Statutory needs assessment 

You can ask your local authority to carry out a statutory needs assessment to identify your child’s needs and whether they need an EHC plan.   

During the assessment, the local authority will consult with both you and your child, as well as a qualified Teacher of the Deaf (ToD).  

If the local authority decides not to issue an EHC plan for your child, they must inform you of this decision within 16 weeks of receiving your request. If they decide you child does need an EHC plan, they must issue the final plan within 20 weeks of receiving your request.

Helpful guides

Personal Budgets 

An SEN Personal Budget is an amount of money that the local authority has identified as being needed to deliver the support outlined in an EHC plan. 

You can ask your local authority to give you some or all of the Personal Budget as a direct payment. This is so that you can arrange support yourself, however you think best, as long as the money is spent on support identified in the EHC plan. 

Your local authority should give details of SEN support that could be delivered through a SEN Personal Budget in their Local Offer. You can find your local authority’s Local Offer on their website. 

A Personal Budget could pay for support such as:

  • specialist equipment such as fire alerting systems or radio aids
  • speech and language therapy
  • communication support such as sign language interpreters or speech-to-text reporters
  • British Sign Language (BSL) or Cued Speech tuition
  • short breaks.

There is also a notional budget of £6,000. A school must prove they have spent at least this amount on the child before requesting High Needs or Top Up funding, which often comes through an EHC plan.

We have more information about Personal Budgets and SEN in our factsheet.

Annual reviews of EHC plans 

If your child is given an EHC plan, you’ll be invited by your child's school to attend a review meeting each year. This is to make sure that your child’s plan is still providing the right support for their learning.

For example, before starting the year or a course in which your child will be examined, exam access arrangements should be discussed.

In Year 9 the review meeting is used to plan what will happen when your child leaves school at age 16. This is called a 'transition' plan. Your child might find it useful to read Transition meetings and how to prepare for them.

If your child has an EHC plan you can find more information in our factsheet, Annual Reviews of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

Appealing a decision about an EHC plan 

If you’re unhappy with the content of your child’s EHC plan, or if your local authority has refused to carry out a statutory assessment, you can appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (GOV.UK). 

Before you can appeal to the Tribunal, you must contact the mediation service the local authority gave details of in their decision letter. You don’t have to go ahead with the mediation, but you do need to contact the service even if it’s just to say you don’t want mediation. 

You don’t need to make a formal complaint before you appeal to the Tribunal, but strict time limits apply. Usually, you must make your appeal within two months of the local authority’s decision. Find out more about how to appeal to the tribunal in our factsheet.

EHC plans and the NHS 

NHS services are expected to:

  • contribute to EHC needs assessments within the timeframes, including
    providing advice and reports, and
  • deliver the health provision agreed in the EHC plan.

The regulations which support the Children and Families Act 2014 place a duty on local authorities when carrying out an EHC plan assessment to obtain ‘medical advice and information from a health care professional identified by the responsible commissioning body’. There is then a legal responsibility placed on the NHS to respond to requests for advice and information as part of EHC plan assessments within six weeks of the date on which they receive the request.

Deaf children will enter an EHC plan assessment process already known to health services. In this case, there may not be any need for a further assessment to be made, and the health advice can be provided based on the existing evidence about the child. This evidence must be able to support the relevant health professional to give advice as to the child’s needs, the provision required to meet those needs and the desired outcomes.

Where it seems that a new assessment is needed, because of an apparent change in the nature of a child or young person’s needs, or because they have not had any assessment, then arrangements should allow for a referral to be made to the appropriate service. It is essential that any new assessment is completed in time for the required advice to be provided within the statutory timeframe of six weeks.

More information

The Council for Disabled Children (CDC) have produced this helpful leaflet for further information about the legal requirements; Requirements to provide Health Advice within six weeks (2018).