FAQ's: How long will my EHC Plan take?

An Education Health and Care (EHC) Plan needs assessment should take 20 weeks from the date the request is received by the Local Authority. Within the 20 weeks the following specific requirements apply:

  • Local authorities must give their decision in response to any request for an EHC needs assessment within a maximum of 6 weeks from when the request was received or the point at which a child or young person was brought to the local authority’s attention
  • When local authorities request information as part of the EHC needs assessment process, those supplying the information must respond in a timely manner and within a maximum of 6 weeks from the date of the request
  • If a local authority decides, following an EHC needs assessment, not to issue an EHC plan, it must inform the child’s parent or the young person within a maximum of 16 weeks from the request for a EHC needs assessment, and
  • The child’s parent or the young person must be given 15 calendar days to consider and provide views on a draft EHC plan and ask for a particular school or other institution to be named in it.

Where there are exceptional circumstances, it may not be reasonable to expect local authorities and other partners to comply with the time limits above. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 set out specific exemptions. These include where:

  • appointments with people from whom the local authority has requested information are missed by the child or young person (this only applies to the duty on partners to comply with a request under the EHC needs assessment process within six weeks)
  • the child or young person is absent from the area for a period of at least 4 weeks
  • exceptional personal circumstances affect the child or his/her parent, or the young person, and
  • the educational institution is closed for at least 4 weeks, which may delay the submission of information from the school or other institution (this does not apply to the duty on partners to comply with a request under the EHC needs assessment process within six weeks).

You will be informed if exemptions apply so that you are aware of, and understand, the reason for any delays. We will aim to keep delays to a minimum and as soon as the conditions that led to an exemption no longer apply we will endeavour to complete the process as quickly as possible. All remaining elements of the process will be completed within their prescribed periods, regardless of whether exemptions have delayed earlier elements. 

The following diagram sets out the statutory timescales and decision points for the process of EHC needs assessment and EHC plan development that local authorities must adhere to.

In the letter you will get after a request for assessment will tell you your key dates.

Looking forward, we are looking at how we can make this information more readily available to you so you can access this independently through a SEND Portal. We will provide further information about this in the future.