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  • Writer's pictureJes Allan

Goal Setting and Aspiration Checking

EHC Plans can be the ‘recipe’ for the young person’s ideal future, but only if the plan is an accurate reflection of the individual, their goals, their needs and the support they require.

Get ready for my slight stretch of an analogy:

The aspirations and outcomes of the young person are the golden thread that runs through the EHC Plan and links all the areas of the EHCP together. Think of these aspirations and outcomes as the finished dish.

Now think of the needs and strengths of the young person as the ingredients going into the dish. The needs and strengths are basically what we have to work with, what we’re starting the journey with.

The provision in the EHCP is like the instructions given in the recipe, the provision is what is needed to get that young person, with their needs and strengths, to their aspirations and outcomes, to that final dish.

If we don’t have enough detail in our recipe (clear provision explaining the support required), or the full list of ingredients (full picture of the young person’s needs), or a clear understanding of the final dish we’re working towards (what that young person wants to achieve, their end goal), we are less likely to get the result we want (Bake Off fans, think of the technical challenge!)

It’s really important to make sure that the EHC Plan is an accurate reflection of the aspirations, needs and support that the young person has, that it is detailed and gives a really clear picture of where we are, where we want to get to, and how we’re going to get there.


The young person’s aspirations are their long term goals. These are entirely up to the young person and don’t have to be what we would consider realistic. For example, I met a young person once who was working at Entry Levels, who wanted to be an archaeologist.

The outcomes on the plan are what we (including the young person) want the young person to achieve in the next 1-2 years. They are the shorter-term goals the young person needs to achieve, in order to get closer to their aspirations.

Our job is to get them as close to those aspirations as possible, making whatever steps we can to move towards them. For example, perhaps an outcome for that young person could be work experience in museums, or finding volunteering opportunities in an area linked to history.

Those shorter-term outcomes should be linked to those aspirations and should be meaningfully to the young person – what they want to achieve, not just what we want them to achieve.


The outcomes need to be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound), so that we are clear on when they have been achieved and new ones can be set, and so that they are meaningful to the young person – the young person knows what they are working towards.

The young person and their family should be involved at all times with their EHC Plan, particularly when writing the EHC Plan and at their annual review, as they need to be able to share their aspirations so we can make sure the outcomes are relevant and meaningful to the young person.

If the EHC Plan is accurate and really spells out what the young person wants to achieve, and clearly explains how the young person will be supported to achieve them, then the services supporting that young person will be legally obliged to provide the provision listed in Section F of their EHCP to help them to reach those outcomes; and if we’ve got the ingredients, and the recipe right, then we will inevitably start to see that progress towards those outcomes (leading to better outcomes generally for the young person).

Your Rights

The other important thing is to know your rights as a parent (or for school to know how to support the parent with their rights):

The young person and family legally have 15 days to respond to any suggested changes the Local Authority wants to make to their EHC Plan. This is your chance to be open about what you feel needs updating, or removing, or adding.

If the young person and family are still not happy with the final document, they have the right to seek mediation or to go to Tribunal to challenge the contents of the EHC Plan.

The young person and their family can also go to Tribunal for any decisions relating to the EHCP – including the decision not to update the EHCP.

Preparing for Adulthood

From latest Year 9 onwards, EHC Plans should start to shift their focus to Preparation for Adulthood. This has four key areas where we should support our young people to gradually become more independent – employment, independent living, community inclusion, health. We need this work to start as early as possible to help us to get the best outcomes, but this work has to begin by latest Year 9.

Any areas the young person is not independent in should be written in to their EHC Plan, along with the support they need in order to get closer to their independence and a SMART outcome created around that area of independence.



– Has autism and a moderate learning difficulty.

– Attends a special school and has 1:1 support to keep him safe.

– Is very interested in trains and says his dream is to be a train driver.

– Whilst this may not be realistic or achievable, it is still his aspiration.

What outcomes could we set for John, to help him move towards his aspiration?

What support would he need to meet those outcomes?


• By the end of July 2021, John will have successfully completed a supported work experience placement in an area of his interest.


• John will be supported by education staff to:

• identify a work experience placement relevant to his interests.

• Attend a work experience placement relevant to his interests.

Example 2


• By the end of July 2021, John will be able to identify 5 different job roles involved with railways.


• John will have a weekly 1:1 or small group session in which he learns about different job roles, including those of interest to him (e.g. railways).

By being really specific on what we want the educational placement to deliver, and why we want them to do that, we have a much higher chance of that young person receiving the support they require and reaching those outcomes, getting closer to their aspirations.

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