EHC Needs Assessments and Plans

Information for Parents & Carers

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What is an EHC Needs Assessment?

An Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment is the first step in the EHCP process. It is a way for the Local Authority to gather information to identify what extra support your child might need to help them get the most out of school or college. It can also help to decide whether they might need an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

What is an EHCP?

An Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) describes your child’s special educational needs (SEN) and the help they might need to be able to do their best in school or college. It also includes any health or social needs that your child has.

It is a legal document written by the Local Authority for children and young people with high support needs that cannot be met by the SEN support that is usually available at their school or college.

You can find a blank template of an EHCP on our Resources page.

Who might need an EHC Needs Assessment or Plan?

Most children or young people with special educational needs will have help given to them by their school or college without the need for an EHCP. This is called SEN Support. Some children and young people may not make the progress they could, even with this help. If this happens, the Local Authority should carry out an EHC Needs Assessment to decide whether an EHCP might be needed for extra support.

EHC Needs Assessments can be requested for children and young people aged between 0-25. Your child does not need to have a diagnosis before you can request an EHC Needs Assessment/ Plan.

How do I ask for an EHC Needs Assessment for my child?

A request can be made by you, or your child’s school or college. You can submit a parental request online, or you can send it by post or email to the Local Authority SEND Team. More information on how to make a request can be found here.

You can also find a copy of the request form on our Resources page.

What happens in an EHC Needs Assessment?

The Local Authority (LA) SEND Team will gather information and advice about your child’s needs and what support might be required to meet those needs from a range of people. As a minimum, they are legally required to seek advice from:

  • You and your child.
  • Educational advice from your child’s school or college.
  • Medical advice from a health care professional.
  • Psychological advice from an educational psychologist.
  • Advice from a social care professional.
  • Advice from a professional in relation to preparing for adulthood and independent living (if your child is in Year 9 or above).
  • Anyone else who knows your child well that you would like the Local Authority (LA) to talk to.
  • Anyone else that the LA thinks is appropriate.

The LA then gathers all that information and brings it to a panel of professionals, who decide whether they think your child needs an EHCP.

How long does the EHC Needs Assessment process take?

The Local Authority (LA) should let you know within 6 weeks of receiving your EHC Needs Assessment request whether they have agreed to assess your child. If they don’t agree, you can appeal their decision.

If they agree that an EHC needs assessment is needed, the LA should seek advice from all the people mentioned above. Everyone should respond to the LA’s request for information within 6 weeks. There are exceptions to this, such as during school holidays. Once all the information has been gathered, the LA brings it to the Inclusion Support Panel (ISP), who decides whether your child needs an EHCP. The LA should let you know the decision within 14 weeks of receiving your initial EHC Needs Assessment request. If the ISP decides that your child doesn’t need an EHCP, you can appeal their decision.

If the ISP decides that your child does need an EHCP, the LA will write a draft EHCP based on the information and advice that was provided during the EHC Needs Assessment. When you receive the draft, you will be given 15 days to read through it and make sure you are happy with it. If there is anything you’re unsure of, you can ask for a meeting with the LA or school to talk about it, or you can tell the LA if there is anything you want them to change. There won’t be a school named on it at this point, so you can also give preferences of schools that you would like your child to attend and the LA will consult with them. The draft should be sent to you within 16 weeks of your initial request.

Within 20 weeks of receiving your EHC Needs Assessment request, the LA should issue the final EHCP, with a school named on it. If you disagree with any of the content of the plan and/or the school which is named on it, you can appeal.

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