Completing Section A of your child’s Education, Health and Care Plan
Our guidance on how to complete Section A of your child's Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
What is Section A of an EHCP?
Section A of an EHCP is your opportunity to tell education, health and social care professionals about your child.
Two things to be aware of:
- Nobody knows your child better than you do.
- There’s no right or wrong way for completing this section.
However, we hope that our suggestions will help give you a framework to organise and present your thoughts to the professionals who will be supporting your child.
Why complete Section A?
An EHCP is a ‘person centred’ document that places you and your child at the centre of the plan – which is what Section A is all about. Its purpose is to develop a plan that focusses on the unique needs of your child and that identifies the specific resources required to meet those needs.
The more accurate you are in communicating your child’s specific needs, the more likely the professionals are to identify the right resources.
When will you be asked to complete Section A?
There are no statutory guidelines that state when this section must be completed. Local authorities typically request that it’s completed early in the drafting process, for example once they’ve agreed to complete a needs assessment and it’s likely they’ll be drafting an EHCP for your child.
We recommend that you set aside plenty of time to complete this part of the plan.
How is Section A completed?
Section A is often divided into two sections:
- Most local authorities have produced their own templates for parents to help guide and structure their thoughts. You’ll find subheadings such as ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ are widely used. If you’re writing on behalf of your child, it’s important their voice comes across in the document. For example:
“Julie likes to play with her best friend Tom.”
“Julie likes to go swimming with her family.”
“Julie likes to play the drums.”
- If your child tells you: “I like to play with my best friend Tom” but Tom isn’t able to understand how best to interact with your child, it may be significant to mention this. That way you’re telling the professionals that they may need to provide resources and/or training for the children your child mixes with too.
- Your insight as a parent/carer is vital – you’re a significant member of the team that’s identifying your child’s needs.
Aspirations and the importance of a ‘golden thread’
Aspirations, or ambitions, are a significant part of what you write about in Section A and of the EHCP as a whole.
Examples of aspirations might include:
- Julie would like to be able to read like her big sister.
- Julie would like to be free to play independently with her friends.
- Julie would like to be able to make a sandwich independently.
- Julie would like to have independence in her learning
Once you and/or your child has described their aspirations, it’s down to the professionals to develop plans for what support is needed (in Section F) and the associated outcomes (in Section E) to achieve those aspirations.
As a way of keeping their aspirations in the forefront of everyone’s mind, they should form a ‘golden thread’ that runs throughout the EHCP (for more information on this take a look at our advice on drafting your child's EHCP). Check that these aspirations are evident throughout the whole document and linked specifically to the sections on outcomes and the provision of support (Sections E and F).
Aspirations will, of course, change over time. Long-term aspirations, for example, may have to change, depending on whether your child achieves their short or medium-term aspirations.
Reviewing those aspirations should be part of the annual review meeting. It’s possible that as part of the review, either you and/or your child may need to accept that an aspiration isn’t realistic and that a different one needs putting in place.
- Keep your aspirations realistic - challenging but obtainable, for example: “I would like my child to be taught to become independent, so that they can move safely around the classroom and school environment”.
- When outcomes are reviewed and you’re given your child’s progress report, ask yourself to what extent they’re closer to, or further away from, achieving the aspiration?
What should you include in Section A?
Include everything you feel is important. Some of the things you include may not be relevant going forwards, but don’t worry, the EHCP is a practical working document which will be reviewed and updated at least once a year, so you’ll be able to revisit your, and your child’s input.
- When drafting what you’re going to say, it’s a good idea to include a range of observations from both random and specific days to ensure you’re providing a realistic and complete picture of your child and their needs. These could include:
- Events: include observations about a specific regular event that’s typically stressful for you, your child and/or their friends/peers.
- Random days: choose a random day of the week/weekend to record your observations.
- Specific days: make a list of significant observations about a day when things are typically successful or stressful.
- Keep editing and adding to your list of observations before you use them to draft Section A, noting the positive and negative things that happen.
- Don’t feel the need to complete Section A in one sitting – it may take you several days or even weeks to complete.
Example of a completed Section A
This is an example of how to communicate a child’s needs effectively. Please don’t feel the need to copy any of it – your child is unique, and their Section A will be unique too. The example below was written by a parent with support from various professionals.
- How to apply for an Education, Health and Care Plan
- Drafting your child's Education, Health and Care Plan
- Completing Section A of your child’s Education, Health and Care Plan
- Understanding annual reviews