Education, Health and Care Pathway

A Graduated Approach

The vast majority of children and young people who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) will not need a referral to the EHC Pathway because their needs can be met through the provision made through our Graduated Approach to SEND. This Graduated Approach expects schools and other providers to identify where a child or young person is experiencing difficulties in their learning.  The provision made will depend on the significance of their difficulties and previous levels of support provided.

Diagram shows process needed to support children and young people to achieve their learning outcomes.

This flowchart demonstrates the Graduated Response taken to SEND.

The flowchart considers provision levels required as “no support”, “some support”, “lots of support” and “exceptional support”.  Only children and young people requiring exceptional support will need a referral to the Education, Health and Care (EHC) Pathway. You can read more about the Graduated Approach in High Expectations for All: Chapter 4

The EHC Pathway describes the process of assessment and planning for any child or young person needing “exceptional support” who will have, or may have, special educational needs which are long term, complex and require additional support to access the educational opportunities available from early years providers, schools and post 16 institutions. If appropriate, the assessment will lead to the development of an Education Health and Care Plan.

What is an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan?

An EHC Plan looks at all the needs that a child or young person has within education, health and care that are identified as a barrier to their learning. The child or young person, with their family and other professionals, will consider what outcomes they would like to achieve. This plan identifies what is needed to achieve those outcomes. The Children and Families Act 2014 made EHC plans statutory from 1 September 2014.

What does an EHC Plan look like?

Every EHC Plan is personalised to meet the needs and outcomes for each child or young person. To find out more about how plans are personalised and the option of a personal budget please see our Personalisation and Personal Budgets page.

Referring for an EHC Assessment - Professionals

Any professional working with a child, young person or family can make a referral for an EHC Assessment.

Chapter 11 of the High Expectations for All File provides information about the referral process. The EHC Referral guidance and  Referral Form include all that is needed to make a referral.

All the documents needed to support a referral can be found in the Related Documents section on this page. Electronic referrals are encouraged and can be emailed to EHC Referrals.

Parents can request to make a referral for an assessment themselves but, if a child or young person is at school or college, it is recommend that you speak to a member of staff first. The Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) could be able to make the referral for you. Parents wishing to make a referral should contact their local authority.

Referring for an EHC Assessment – Parent/Carer or Young person 16+

Chapter 11 of the High Expectations for All File provides information about the referral process and states: ‘A referral for an assessment will usually be made by a school or post 16 institution. However, parents (or an advocate on their behalf) and other professionals can also make a referral. Young people over the age of 16 (or an advocate on their behalf) also have a right to request an EHC assessment’.

We advise that you speak with the school SENDCo (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator) in the first instance wherever possible. However, if you feel it is most appropriate to self-refer, this would need to be made in writing explaining the reasons why an EHCP should be put in place. You will need to provide as much information as possible regarding the child or young person’s health, education and care, including any reports or referrals from other services. This would then need to be emailed wherever possible to to be reviewed.

There are a lot of helpful letter templates found online. If you need more help to complete the form or for independent advice and support about needs assessments and EHC plans you can contact Wigan SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disability Information and Advice Support Service).

Complaints, Mediation and Tribunal

In the SEND Team, we aim to support everyone in the best possible way, and want to ensure you receive the best service. However, if you need to escalate matters further after speaking with the SEND team, please contact Wigan Council complaints.

If the decision has been made not to proceed with an EHC Needs Assessment and you remain unhappy and agreement cannot be reached then you can access Embrace Mediation and Disagreement Resolution (external link). You can fill out the form on the webpage or contact an Embrace link worker on 01942 233323.

We would always encourage ongoing discussions to aim for mutual agreement, however, if it is determined that agreement cannot be reached, you retain the right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST). Please note that you must register your appeal within two months of the date on this letter.

A Special Educational Needs: How to Appeal booklet can be obtained from the Tribunal at SENDIST, 1st Floor, Darlington Magistrates’ Court, Parkgate, Darlington DL1 1RU. 

You can contact Tribunal at SENDIST by telephone 01325 289350, email  or online at first tier tribunal special educational needs and disability (external link).

Your right to appeal to the Tribunal is not affected by any involvement in local resolution arrangements and can run at the same time as an appeal.

Annual Reviews

EHC Plans must be reviewed at least annually. Reviews should be carried out using person-centred planning principles and must focus on the child or young person’s progress towards achieving the outcomes specified in the EHC plan. The specific requirements of conducting an Annual Review are laid out in the Guidance for Annual Review.

Annual review documents specifically for young people of 16 years and over are available on the Preparing for Adulthood page.

Have your say

We are very keen to hear your experience of the EHC Pathway. We would like you to share with us any suggestions you have for improving our service; barriers you may have faced, concerns you have regarding the process, issues around transition or support you have received in preparing your young person for adulthood. We would also like you to share with us, areas of good practice and the positives you have experienced since the implementation of the SEND reforms.

© Wigan Council