December 2022

We’ve recently heard of cases where local authorities (“LAs”) have issued unclear or vague EHC plans. This has left parents and carers worried their child won’t be able to access the provision they need, as the EHC plan won’t be clear on what the LA must arrange.  

An EHC plan is a legal document which specifies a child’s or young person’s special educational needs, the outcomes sought for them, and the special educational provision required by those needs, together with relevant health and social care provision.  

Case law has made clear that, to be specific enough, the contents of an EHC plan will very often need to be quantified.   

There have been a few recent cases looking at how specific an EHC plan needs to be. IPSEA is aware that there has been some misunderstanding of these cases, resulting in the view that the duty to specify and quantify EHC plans no longer applies.  

This is incorrect.

Where detail can reasonably be provided in an EHC plan, it should be. If a child’s situation means some flexibility is needed in their EHC plan, this does not mean the plan can be vague; it must still be as clear and specific as required by the child’s situation.    

A vague or unclear EHC plan is not a helpful, practical document, as it won’t be clear what the LA must arrange. EHC plans need to give the LA a clear picture of what it is required to provide, and it should be as specific as necessary in each case.  

It may be that:  

  • your child attends a mainstream school, where staff may not have the same expertise as in a special school. More detail in Section F of the EHC plan may, therefore, be necessary. This may mean “hours per week” should be specified, 
  • you are a young person with a bespoke package of education and training and, because of this, your EHC plan may require more detail, or
  • a degree of flexibility should be retained in a particular EHC plan, because of the fluctuating needs of your child. 

What can a parent or young person do? 

If your LA sends to you a vague draft EHC plan, you should go back to the LA explaining what provision is needed and why a particular level of detail is needed for that provision. 

If your child’s final EHC plan is vague, you can ask for it to be made more specific at the next annual review, or appeal its contents if it has recently been issued.  

If the EHC plan is specific, and provision is not being delivered, you should take action.  

If you’re a parent, carer or young person and need further support on this issue, you can contact our helplines for free next step advice.