EHCP reform

In March 2023 the government set out its plans to reform and improve the SEND system through its SEND and alternative provision (AP) improvement plan. It commits to establishing a single national system that delivers for every child and young person with SEND so that they enjoy their childhood, achieve good outcomes, and are well prepared for adulthood and employment.

These reforms are focussed on improving the quality of EHCPs, making the EHCP process more consistent, reducing conflicts within the EHCP system through better co-production, and over time improving the outcomes of children and young people. This includes Multi-Agency Panels, a common EHC plan template and supporting materials, tailored lists and strengthened mediation arrangements.

The EHCP digital reform recommendations support these wider EHCP reforms. The data standard and minimum system functionality will support the single national EHCP system described in the SEND and AP improvement plan.

Project overview

We started our discovery research phase in summer 2023 to understand the benefits, barriers and limitations of the EHCP digitisation process. Following an alpha research phase, we are now in our beta phase.

To engage with stakeholders on EHCP reform we held webinars on what we have done so far and to share ideas and aims of digitising the EHCP process.

A summary of the webinars feature in a design history post.

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

Get involved

Join the community group

You can join the community group for local areas at any stage of your EHCP digitalisation.

In the group sessions you will have the opportunity to:

  • get support from other local areas in their digitisation journey
  • share knowledge and discuss how to make EHCP processes easier for everyone
  • co-produce guidance materials

The next community group session is on 18 July 2024, 2.30 to 3.30 pm.

A summary of our first community group session is available.

Register your interest in participating in potential 1 to 1 research sessions. Sessions are online and usually last about an hour.

Our research sessions are a way to share your experiences and contribute to the development of our project.

To find out more or get involved email:

Our recommendations following discovery and alpha research phases

1) EHCP guidance

We will co-produce guidance for implementing or improving digital EHCP systems with local authorities, integrated care board professionals, education 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 digitised EHCP system must do as a minimum and will allow local authorities to:

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

It will also support software suppliers to 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 supporting the data schema

This will improve data quality and 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 local authority to another.

Once the transfer mechanism options are considered, we will include them to the minimum specifications.

5) Local area support community

We will continue to engage with all local areas within the community group, enabling them to network and support one another during their digitisation processes.

We are involving local authorities who have already started their digitisation journey to form an advisory group.

6) DfE SEND digital supplier engagement

We’ll engage with suppliers and local authorities on the minimum functionality and the data standard of digital EHCP systems through regular meetings and research sessions.

Notes for editors and readers

This page shares the ideas and thinking of the project team at DfE. Please be aware that we cannot respond to questions about the department, policy, or other services. You can find out more about the DfE’s priorities and policies on GOV.UK, along with how to raise enquiries with the department.