Project overview

The Department for Education (DfE) have made a commitment in the SEND and alternative provision improvement plan to support further digitisation of the EHCP processes.

We carried out a discovery phase in summer 2023 to understand the benefits, barriers and limitations of the EHCP digitisation process. Following a subsequent alpha phase, we are now moving into our beta phase.

Phase Start End
Discovery May 2023 June 2023
Alpha October 2023 February 2024
Beta February 2024 March 2025

1) Guidance recommendation

The guidance will be co-produced with local authorities (LAs), Integrated Care Board professionals, software suppliers and wider stakeholders in the sector. This is to ensure that children and young people gain the most benefit from digitisation. 

2) Specification for minimum functionality of systems

These are the functions that a digital EHCP system must do as a minimum and will allow LAs to:

  • benchmark their level of digitisation
  • identify areas they need to improve
  • identify digital systems that meet the minimum functionality

It will also help software suppliers understand what they need to provide and allow new suppliers to come to market.

We will look to mandate these.

3) EHC record data standard

A data standard will support the digital EHC process, including:

  • a data schema (the classification and categorisation of data fields and related hierarchies)
  • guidance on how it should be used by suppliers and LAs

This will ease data sharing across different systems, integration of systems and allow for consistent data reporting and analysis. 

We will look to mandate the data standard. 

4) Secure EHC record transfer mechanism

We aim to understand options for a technical mechanism for safely and securely transferring an EHC record and plan from one LA to another.

The mechanism will reduce the administrative burden for LAs and create smoother experiences for children, young people and families.

Once the options are considered, we will add the mechanism options to the minimum specifications and data standard. This will ensure that LAs use a consistent method which is supported by software suppliers.

5) LA support community

This is long-term engagement with all LAs, enabling them to network with and support one another during their digitisation process. The community will allow us to consistently engage with LAs to develop and test the:

  • expected digital EHCP system functionality required
  • EHC record data standard
  • way a secure EHC record transfer mechanism would work in practice
  • LA guidance

This will include using digitised LAs to form an advisory group.

6) DfE SEND digital supplier channel

We will engage with suppliers and LAs on the minimum functionality and data standard of digital EHCP systems through regular meetings.

When we reach business as usual, we will have one communication channel to engage with suppliers, share our plans and receive any feedback.

This will be a dedicated public sign-up function for all current suppliers and new ones.

Playback webinars

We held four playback webinars for local authorities, Integrated Care Boards, software suppliers and wider stakeholders to share both our:

  • alpha findings
  • recommendations for our beta phase.

We explained the case for all SEND services to digitise their EHCP processes to:

  • deliver better experiences for both families and professionals
  • enable them to continuously improve their services
  • focus staff time on family engagement rather than managing bureaucracy.

We are looking at the best way to do this, based on both:

  • on-going user-centred research
  • insights from the Change Programme.

We would like all local authorities to gain the benefits outlined in the SEND and Alternative Provision (AP) Improvement Plan by digitising.

The DfE is also working hard to identify and spread best practice of delivering EHCPs to improve both the:

  • quality of plans
  • experience of getting or providing them

Core principles of our digital EHCP system design and related guidance will include both:

  • embedding transparency
  • ensuring it captures the child or young person’s voice and needs.

A local authority's digital EHCP system should cover the entire EHCP process, including, assessment, drafting, implementing and maintaining a plan.

Based on the SEND and AP Improvement Plan timelines, we will continue to communicate project timelines on this page and through our community group.

Dates for the next LA community group sessions:

9th May: 1.30 - 2.30pm

11th June: 11 - 12noon

18th July: 2.30 - 3.30pm

Contact the team

To find out more or get involved email: