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Ask our SEND expert: Do we need an EHCP?

By Silja Turville
14 June 2022

Perhaps your child is struggling at school – and you’re tearing your hair out about how you can best support them to achieve as much as they possibly can. Or maybe they’ve already been diagnosed with a specific learning difficulty and you need help untangling a knotty issue. Talk Education’s SEND expert, Silja Turville, has all the answers and she’s here to help: email your SEND-related questions to talk@talkeducation.com and we’ll publish Silja’s response here.

As an educational consultant and neurodiversity coach focused on supporting families with children with additional needs, Silja is director of Acorn to Oak Education – and passionate about sharing her knowledge to help parents. This week, Silja has advice for parents contemplating an EHCP for their child...


My child is very bright, yet her results never seem to have reflected her ability and she finds the literacy skills required in some subjects challenging. She has recently been identified as dyslexic and an ADHDer. Does she now need an EHCP (Education and Health Care Plan) or can she be supported in school without one?

Whether an EHCP is worthwhile depends upon the level of support your child needs and whether the support currently available at school is sufficient. In fact, the EHCP process asks for evidence of what support has been offered and its impact, so often it is not the first step in arranging additional help.

Our experience is that with good support and understanding, a great deal can be achieved even within mainstream schools if the learner’s needs are properly met. This is not always the case, though, and it can require careful interactions with school and professionals to tailor educational support for your child.

In the first instance, we recommend engaging with the educational psychology/assessment teams that worked with your daughter to find out what accommodations and support in class she would benefit from. Ideally, the school’s SENDCo will communicate with these professionals to understand more precisely what your child needs.

You and your daughter will also have a critical understanding of what would be helpful in practice, and these are highly valuable insights that should be incorporated into the support offered and how it is delivered. For example, for ADHD learners, movement breaks are recommended – but sometimes learners feel awkward leaving class to take them. If this is the case, then other work-arounds are needed. Sometimes teachers allocate tasks such as taking physical registers back to the school office as a way of allowing a learner to take an “officially sanctioned” break.

The support and accommodations needed should then be used within a typical teaching “assess, plan and do” framework and be reviewed regularly to see if your daughter is making the expected progress. Evidence from the relevant plans and outcomes in relation to this would be helpful later if you do apply for an EHCP.

One challenge that parents might face is that assessment reports can contain lots of suggestions and potential approaches. It may help to have a specialist narrow this down to provide a more streamlined plan for teachers to follow.

Generally, an EHCP would only be requested if the provision suggested by an educational psychologist cannot be offered within the school. For example, if your child needs specialist literacy and numeracy support that cannot be provided or, indeed, an entirely different learning environment or pathway, this could require an EHCP. Likewise, if a high level of one-to-one support in class is needed, this might also require an EHCP, although in an independent school sometimes parents can self-fund this support.

Normally, a school should help in providing feedback about when this extra support could be necessary/useful.

If you need any help or guidance in figuring out what is reasonable for a school to provide or whether there is sufficient evidence that what is being provided is not working and that you need to apply for an EHCP, our specialist education advisory team can help. Good luck!