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What is the difference between SEND support and an EHCP?

Updated: May 3, 2023

Both special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) support and an education, health and care plan (EHCP) are really important for children with learning difficulties. In fact, one will often precede the other: SEND provision can lead to an EHCP, while getting an EHCP often results in SEND support. But what are the differences between them?


What is SEND support?


SEND support refers to any type of special educational provision that supports your child. This could take the form of additional help in the classroom, differentiated work or individual tutoring help.


What is an EHCP?


An EHCP is a structured plan put together by the school’s special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) and other professionals, such as an educational psychologist, that details the provisions that your child needs to meet their educational requirements.


The differences


One of the main differences between the two is their timeframes. SEND support can be actioned immediately. An EHCP can take up to 20 weeks to put together.


Furthermore, an EHCP costs. Each EHCP has different bands, and each band has different criteria and a monetary amount associated with it.


The role of the school in SEND support and EHCPs


For both types of provision, the school has to support them in order for them to be actioned. It’s often more difficult to get an EHCP because schools will typically have a very specific budget for them as they involve expert professionals coming into the school to observe the child and then write a report. For example, a dyslexia specialist would need to be brought in from outside to run diagnostic testing to see if a child has dyslexia – a process which can take around four hours.


Usually, once a school deems an EHCP necessary, the first step is to engage an educational psychologist to come and observe the child in school and make their recommendations on how to meet the child’s needs. Subsequent specialist interventions, such as whether the child needs testing for dyslexia, would be based on this report.


In my experience, parents who are persistent are the ones whose child gets the most support. However, it is important to do so in a collaborative way. Positive intervention is only effective if the parent, school and child all work together and the relationships are reciprocal.


In conclusion


SEND support is much easier to action, takes less time and the class teacher would most likely have already activated some interventional support for your child, or at least flagged your child’s situation to the school’s SENCO.


In contrast, an EHCP is a document that has to be applied for and collated by outside professionals. These experts are involved in setting up the EHCP and then twice yearly are asked to re-assess the plan and produce revised targets that contribute to meeting your child’s needs.


Looking for personalized support to help your child succeed? Meet Madeleine, an experienced and passionate teacher within a special educational needs setting. She is often acknowledged for her enthusiasm for teaching and her ability to connect with each student she teaches. Learn more about Madeleine and how she can make a difference in your child's education journey: Madeleine

I have an 8 year old son with an ASD, ADHD AND dyslexia. He’d been hugely struggling at school, so I decided to get a weekly specialist tutor to help him with his reading, writing and maths. SEND Tutoring has been totally amazing. My son seems to actually enjoy learning for the first time ever! Anna Samuel
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