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Understand the Education Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment process

EHC assessments during the coronavirus pandemic

We are working to make sure that the current challenges will not delay or prevent any child who needs EHC assessment from accessing this process. Find out more

What is an Education Health and  Care(EHC) needs assessment?

Most children and young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND) don't require an EHC needs assessment. This is because the local school, early years or college setting can support their learning and progress from extra help that they can make available. This is known as SEND Support. 

For a few children and young people this extra help as part of SEND support may not be enough to meet their needs and support their learning and personal wellbeing.

These children and young people may need an EHC needs assessment. Parents/carers should talk to their child's school or setting about whether an assessment is appropriate.

The EHC needs assessment is a detailed process to find out what the child’s or young person’s special educational needs are and what provision should be put into place to meet them. It will show whether it is necessary to issue an EHC plan setting out the additional help, over and above what is available to the mainstream school or setting, to meet needs.

The assessment may not lead to a plan being issued. 

Who can request an EHC needs assessment?

The following people can make an EHC needs assessment request:

  • A child’s parent/carer
  • A young person over the age of 16 but under the age of 25
  • A person acting on behalf of the early year’s setting, school or post 16 college, this is usually the Special Needs Coordinator (SENCO).

Other agencies and people can bring a child or young person to the attention of the LA if they think an EHC needs assessment may be necessary, for example, health visitor and doctors. The LA will take then take appropriate action to follow up on this.

How do I make request?

For further guidance for parents/carers go to Making a request

What happens to requests for an EHC needs assessment?

The Local Authority (LA) will consider the request taking the account of the views and recommendations from a panel with representatives from education services, health and, where possible social care. This multi-disciplinary panel ensures that decisions that that the LA make are transparent and consistent.

What is involved in an EHC needs assessment?

Once agreed the assessment must be completed within 16 weeks from the date the request was made.

The allocated Education, health and Care plan coordinator will collate all the information and advice required to complete the assessment.

The assessment process should be person centred, this means that the LA SEND service will make sure that the views, wishes and feelings of the child or young person and their family are included in the assessment. The child or young person and their family will be asked what they want for the future and what outcomes they wish to seek and what support might help.

Advice may l also be gathered from:

  • the school or setting
  • a specialist teacher (for children and young people with hearing and/or visual impairments)
  • a speech and language therapists and /or other health professionals.
  • an Educational Psychologist
  • a Social Worker
  • anyone else involved with the child or young person

They'll be asked:

  • what needs the child or young person has
  • what outcomes they hope to achieve
  • what support will help to meet the outcomes

The SEND service won't ask for advice if this is already available and everyone is happy to use this.

Watch this short video from the Council for Disabled Children to find out more about Person Centred Planning.

Watch video on YouTube

What happens after the assessment?

 A completed assessment may not lead to the issue of an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP).

If the LA SEND Service decide that the child’s or young person’s needs cannot be met from the help and support available from the current school or setting they will agree to issue an EHC plan.

If the decision is that the plan is not needed the service will explain this decision to you. Information and advice from the completed assessment will be used to write a proposed Additional School SEND Support Plan which will include details of the extra help that should be available to help the child or young person to learn and make progress. It is the responsibility of the school and education setting to finalise this plan and agree how it will be used.

What can I do if I disagree with a decision?

At any point in the assessment process you can talk to or meet with your EHCP coordinator to discuss your concerns and a find a way forward.

Parents, carers and young people over the age of 16 can ask for mediation or dispute resolution to provide independent advice.

Parents and carers also have rights of appeal to the SEND tribunal at particular points in the EHC needs assessment process

Information on making an appeal can be found on the First Tier Tribunal Website

What support and help are available for families during this assessment process?

  •  Timeline showing local processes for EHC needs assessment.
  • Independent advice from SENDIASS (SEND Information, Advice and Support Service). The downloadable leaflet provides contact details and further information on the support the service can offer.

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