From Diagnosis to Functioning: a quality evaluation study of EHC plans



The government introduced the new Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice on the 1st of September 2014 as part of the Children and Families Act. Under the new rules, SEN statements have been replaced with education, health and care (EHC) plans taking children and young people up to the age of 25. The introduction of the EHC plans is expected to affect the way support for children with SEN will be provided.


This project, funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust, aims to evaluate the quality of the newly developed Education Health and Care (EHC) plans.


To evaluate the quality of the EHC plans we will use the International Classification of Functionality Disability and Health (ICF), published by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The ICF provides an innovative model as well as a classification system to describe SEN. Focusing on functioning, rather than on diagnosis, the ICF enables the description of individual functioning profiles, covering all domains of life, including body functions and structures, activities and forms of participation, but also the factors of the environment that facilitate or hinder the child's participation.


Between 2015 and 2017, we will use the ICF framework to analyse the quality over 600 EHC plans across a number of schools in seven London local authorities. In addition to this, we will also train a number of professionals to use the ICF for the development of EHC plans and we will evaluate the impact of this training on the quality of the EHC plans.



We hope that the findings of our study will start building the much-needed evidence base concerning the quality of the EHC plans under the new SEN policy. We also hope that our research will generate evidence about  the usefulness of the ICF as a supporting system for the identification, assessment and intervention planning for children/young people with SEN.




If you wish to enquire about this study please contact us:

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A few quotes about the use of the ICF to classify disability

The ICF was created “to establish a common language for describing health and health related states in order to improve communication between different users, such as health care workers, researchers, policymakers, and the public, including people with disabilities'

'The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health-ICF addresses the broad need for a common language and classification of functioning and disability'. 

'The publication of the ICF represented an important advance in the classification of disability '

WHO (2001, p.5)

Simeonsson, Leonardi, Lollar, Bjorck-Akesson, Hollonweger & Martinuzzi (2003, p. 602)

Lollar & Simeonsson (2005, p. 325)