This article is based on parents personal experience. This is not legal advice. Just advice from one parent to another parent, in hope you find it helpful. Also this is particularly relevant for parents in Leeds. 

  1. Do you need EHCP
  2. STARS
  3. The EHCP Process
  4. Final
LALocal Authority (i.e Leeds in this article)
SENSAPSEN Statutory Assessment Provision (a department within Education Leeds that deals with the EHCPs)
SENITSpecial Educational Needs and Inclusion Team, a department within Education Leeds that distributes funding to schools for children without EHCP but who have additional needs
ISAR Inclusion & SEN Additional Support Record)
EPEducational Psychologist
OT Occupational Therapist
SLTSpeech and Language Therapist
ASCAutism Spectrum Condition
 EOTAS Education other than at school

CONTACT for SENSAP :  0113 378 5256

Setting means nursery/school/college/alternative provision

1.First and foremost , what is an EHCP and do you think your child needs one?

Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) are used to support students with special educational needs. They are personalised to meet the needs of a person aged 0–25 years and every plan is unique to the individual.

Plans are provided by the Local Authority and delivered by an individual service such as school, college or alternative provision. Reviews take place annually. This is managed by an EHCP Coordinator at Local Authority level and the educational setting’s SENDCo (Special Educational Needs and Disability Coordinator).

EHCP are also for individuals who are unable to access school due to medical reasons. This is called EOTAS (Education otherwise than at school).

Do note that your child needs an EHCP to access special schools or specialist placements in Leeds.

If you think the school setting is not able to meet the needs of your child’s special education needs and disability, first thing is to make sure your child is on the school’s SEN register. In Leeds your school will get additional support and funding via a Leeds council based department called SENIT.

Our daughter attended independent nursery at age two and a half. The nursery applied for funding called EYFFI (Early years funding for inclusion). For that they needed the parents to fill out a form. This is the first time I found out about SENIT. It wasn’t until later that I found some lady had visited our daughter in Nursery and given recommendation to the school about her learning and provisions.

Parent Experiences of SENIT

The school has to provide some funding for SEN pupil out of their own budget. Any further gap is filled by SENIT. The funding can be used for one-to-one teaching assistants or other special provisions.


STARS team is a government funded organisation that specialises in Autism. There is a long waiting list for this so our suggestion is to apply for it as soon as possible. The school/nursery will apply for it but one page needs to be filled out by parents. STARS Team (when they finally come to see your child in the setting) will assess your child’s special education needs and make recommendations to the school/setting. The recommendations are not legally binding and the school can choose to ignore part or all of them however most good schools try and comply with them. You may consider schools complaints procedure if school does not apply the STARS recommendations.

Edit (11/09/2021) : Call or email the STARS team to make sure your STARS referral has been received and that you are on the waiting list. Some parents report that their STARS referral was never received by the time they found they had waited a few months.

Edit (04/07/2022) We have written an article about STARS Here if you want to read a bit more in detail

3. The EHCP

Applying for EHCP in Leeds

– EHCP process flow and stages

There are several ways to apply for an EHCP. Most parents go to their nursery/school/college SENCO and ask for them to apply for the EHCP for their child. The setting SENCO will fill out a form called EHC1.

We put our trust in the school system. It has to be recognised that the school SENCO is really busy individual. They are responsible for several SEN pupil. It is faster for parents/guardians to apply directly and get the ball rolling. Once the parents have sent their request, the school has 6 weeks to complete their version and now they are legally compelled to do so. 6 Weeks may sound a lot but in our case it took school more than a year to submit the request and that is with us helping them with drafting the request. The best way to do this in Leeds is to fill out the EHC2 form.

Parents Experience 

This form used to be available on Education Leeds website but since 2020 it has been removed. A copy of the most recent copy we had is attached

Some parents don’t like the EHC2 form as it asks for too much information upfront that can be quite daunting. In that case you can also send in the IPSEA model letter to request the EHCP process be started . We did this but it was rejected by Leeds Local Authority and they wanted us to fill out the EHC2 form anyway. In hindsight the EHC2 form is difficult to fill but it does give you an opportunity to think about strengths and needs of your child and to be able to put your thoughts into words to explain it to the Local Authority. You can however fight back and ask them to start their legal obligation using the IPSEA model letter and they are legally obliged to do so.

Once you submit EHC2 form or your school submits the EHC1 form, the EHCP 20 week clock is started.

What evidence to submit

EHCP Started

The local authority will have 6 weeks to make a decision if an assessment is needed

(Note: Since Late 2022, a new meeting has been created that involves parents early in the stage)

Decision is made by MAP Team (Multi-Agency Panel) or DAP Team (Decision to Assess Panel).

An example letter of successful decision is shown below

MAP Or DAP Decision

For this reason, remind the LA in your EHC2 form that when a local authority is requested to carry out an EHC needs assessment by a parent, young person, school or college, they must consider:

* taken from IPSEA website

That this threshold is very low and that the evidence you have provided is enough to prove that you child  needs this assessment

Provide as much evidence with the EHC2 form as possible. This includes doctors reports, school emails and reports, meeting notes, videos made at home (although keep this short if you can around 10 minutes is acceptable) etc etc. Put as much evidence as you can find

In 6 weeks you’ll get an email from LA about the result of the panel. If it is delayed you can call or email SENSAP and ask them. 

Assessment Stage and the draft

Lets assume that you have been successful in getting the panel to agree your child needs the assessment. Now the LA have another 10 weeks to draft an EHCP. During this time they must also arrange an Educational Psychologist assessment of your child. If your child is already being seen by SLT, OT or some other professionals then their reports will be requested as well. However it is very important to

1. Find out your case worker (Leeds don’t disclose the person until very near to the 16 week time)

2. Email you case worker and ask them to assess your child’s needs from the professionals you think they need assessment from. For example make sure to add OT or SLT etc assessment request as soon as possible after the panel decision or even in the EHC2 document and make sure they carry it out.

Also make sure to ask the Educational Psychologist to send you their report and that you will not accept the report unless you have seen it first. I didn’t do this but in hind sight I should have done because the LA only gave me 2 days to review everything before the next steps meeting. The EP report had a lot of false statements and misrepresentations in it. I had thus no chance to challenge them as the EP did not show up to the Next steps meeting.

(Note: Since early 2022, Next Steps meetings are no longer held due to staff shortages in SENSAP)

During this time the case worker will take all reports and create a draft plan. They will ask you to join a next steps meeting. Ours was via zoom. It is really important that you ask them the EP and other professionals be present. If they are not present , you cannot challenge anything that is written in the draft EHCP if it is not mentioned in the professionals reports of the professionals at the meeting actually agree with you.

The next steps meeting is normally held in a very friendly manner. It can last from two to three hours. During this meeting the case worker will go over the draft that will already have been sent to you and explain any questions you may have. They may add or delete some items but they will have to mark them as “Parents request so and so” so that it is clear this is coming from parents and not professionals

Legally the LA need to give you two weeks to reply to the draft but our draft was so delayed that if we then sent back parents comments it would have delayed it further. You can challenge the LA and forcefully get your two weeks but as they have already messed up the timeline it will delay it further. it is your choice how you want to proceed. Some parents prefer to delay the process at this time and get everything properly in place including all professional’s reports and all evidence.

You can read our Draft Checking advice Here


From this point onwards, LA have 4 weeks to present the draft to the panel to see if the EHCP will be issued or not. If EHCP is issued and you are happy with it great. If it is not issued your you are not happy with the contents of the EHCP you’ll have to go either through mediation or through to an SEND tribunal appeal. The scope of both is out side this article so that subject will be covered in future article.