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Requesting an EHC Needs Assessment

Most children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities have their needs met within schools or other educational settings without the allocation of additional resources to that setting. 

Despite the best endeavours of schools, early years settings and colleges, some children and young people may require a higher level of support.  To find out what the special educational needs of these children and young people are and how these needs can be met, the Local Authority (LA) may undertake, on request, an Education Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment.   

Requesting an EHC Needs Assessment

A request for an EHC Needs Assessment can be made to the Local Authority by a number of people and agencies but is usually made by the child’s parent or carer, the young person or the education setting.  [A ‘young person’ means a person between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five.  To be considered a ‘young person’, a sixteen year old must have completed the academic (school) year (usually Year 11) during which they had their sixteenth birthday.]

When a request is received by the LA, it will lead to:

EITHER an agreed request for assessment, in which case the assessment process has begun

OR a request for assessment which is not agreed, in which case there is a right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

If a parent, young person or a school (or other setting) asks the Local Authority (LA) to carry out an EHC needs assessment then the LA must respond to the request within six weeks saying if they will or will not carry out the assessment.

Regardless of who made the request, only the parent or the young person can lodge an appeal.

An EHC Needs Assessment does not always lead to an EHC Plan.  The information gathered may indicate that the child or young person’s assessed needs can be met through the resource already allocated to the school or other setting.

 

To access the EHC Hub to request an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment, please click here

What is an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan?

The request for an EHC Needs Assessment should not be the first step in meeting the child or the young person’s needs.  The request will usually follow on from the arrangements already in place.

Local Authorities have a duty to assess a child or young person’s education, health and care needs where they may have special educational needs (SEN) and they may need special educational provision to be made for them at a level which requires additional resources.

The purpose of an EHC plan is to set out the special educational provision required to meet the assessed special educational needs of the child or young person.  Implementation of the EHC plan secures the best possible outcomes for the child or young person across education, health and social care and prepares them for adulthood.

To achieve this, the Local Authority (LA) uses the information from the EHC needs assessment to:

  • establish and record the views, interests and aspirations of the parent and child or the young person;
  • describe the child or young person’s special educational needs and any health and social care needs;
  • develop outcomes based on the child or young person’s needs and aspirations;
  • specify the provision required;
  • demonstrate how education, health and care services will work together to meet the child or young person’s needs and contribute to the realisation of the agreed outcomes.

 

Who can request an EHC Needs Assessment?

The following people have the specific right to ask the Local Authority (LA) to conduct an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment for a child or a young person from birth to twenty-five years:

  • the child’s parent(s) or carer(s);
  • a young person over the age of sixteen but under the age of twenty-five;
  • a person acting on behalf of a school or post-16 institution: ideally, this will be with the knowledge and agreement of the parent or young person.

However, anyone may bring a child or a young person to the attention of the Local Authority, provided they have specific reasons for doing so.  Where possible, this should be done with the consent of the child’s parents or the young person.

Children and young people aged under nineteen years old who are in youth custodial establishments also have the right to request an EHC needs assessment.  Chapter 10 of the Code of Practice sets out the process for carrying out EHC needs assessments for children and young people in specific circumstances, including those in custody.

The timescale for an EHC Needs Assessment

The timescale covers the whole process of EHC Needs Assessment and EHC Plan development from the point when an assessment is requested (or a child or young person is brought to the Local Authority’s attention) until the final EHC plan is issued.  This process must take no more than twenty weeks although there are exemptions in limited circumstances.

Within this twenty weeks, there are time periods as follows:

  • The Local Authority must give a decision in response to a request for an EHC Needs Assessment within a maximum of six weeks from when the request was received (or the point at which a child or young person was brought to the LA’s attention);
  • When the Local Authority requests information as part of an EHC Needs Assessment, the advice giver must respond in a timely manner and within a maximum of six weeks from the date of the request;
  • If the Local Authority decides not to issue an EHC plan, it must inform the child’s parent or the young person within a maximum of sixteen weeks from the date of the request for assessment;
  • The child’s parent(s) or the young person must be given fifteen calendar days to consider and provide views on a Draft EHC Plan.  At this point, the child’s parents or the young person also ask for a particular school or other institution to be named on the Final EHC Plan.

Where there are exceptional circumstances, it may not be reasonable to expect local authorities and other partners to comply with these time limits.  If exemptions apply, the child’s parent or the young person should be informed so that they are aware of - and understand - the reasons for any delays.

Please see the Statutory Timescale for an EHC Needs Assessment Timeline in the Related Documents section on this page.

Considering whether an EHC Needs Assessment is necessary

Following a request for an EHC Needs Assessment, the Local Authority (LA) must determine whether an EHC Needs Assessment is necessary.  The Local Authority (LA) does not have to consider whether an EHC Needs Assessment is necessary where it has already undertaken an EHC Needs Assessment for the child or young person during the previous six months, although the Local Authority may choose to do so if it thinks it is appropriate.  

The Local Authority must make a decision as to whether an EHC Needs Assessment is necessary and communicate this decision to the child’s parent or to the young person within six weeks of receiving the request. 

The Local Authority must notify the child’s parent or the young person that it is considering whether an EHC Needs Assessment is necessary.  The Local Authority (LA) must consult the child’s parent or the young person as soon as practicable following a request for an EHC Needs Assessment (or having otherwise become responsible).  This is particularly important where the request was not made by the child’s parent or the young person, so that they have sufficient time to provide their views. 

In considering whether an EHC Needs Assessment is necessary, Local Authorities must have regard to the views, wishes and feelings of the child’s parent or the young person.  At an early stage, the Local Authority (LA) will establish how the child’s parents or the young person can best be kept informed and supported to participate as fully as possible in decision-making.  

Where the Local Authority (LA) considers that special educational provision may need to be made in accordance with an EHC Plan and is considering whether an EHC Needs Assessment is necessary, it must notify:

  • the child’s parent or the young person (and must inform them of their right to express written or spoken views and submit evidence to the Local Authority);
  • the health service (meaning the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) or NHS England where it has responsibility for a child or young person);
  • Local Authority officers responsible for the social care of children or young people with Special Educational Needs;
  • the Headteacher of the school the child or young person attends (or the manager of an Early Years setting, or the principal of a post-16 institution).

In deciding whether an EHC Needs Assessment is necessary, the Local Authority (LA) will consider whether there is evidence that - despite the early years provider, school or post-16 institution having taken relevant and purposeful action to identify, assess and meet the special educational needs of the child or young person - expected progress has not been made.  This is against a background where the majority of special educational needs should be met by settings and where schools and other institutions are using their best endeavours to meet the special educational needs of children and young people with SEN.

To inform of its decision, the Local Authority (LA) will take into account a wide range of evidence and will pay particular attention to:

  • evidence of the child or young person’s academic attainment (or developmental milestones and rate of progress);
  • information about the nature, extent and context of the child or young person’s SEN;
  • evidence of the action already being taken by the early years provider, school or post-16 institution to meet the child or young person’s SEN;
  • evidence that where progress has been made, it has only been as the result of significant additional intervention and support over and above that which is usually provided;
  • evidence of the child or young person’s physical, emotional and social development and health needs, drawing on relevant evidence from clinicians and other health professionals and what has been done to meet these needs.

Where a young person is aged over eighteen, the Local Authority (LA) must consider whether the young person requires additional time, in comparison to the majority of others of the same age who do not have special educational needs, to complete their education or training. 

Decision by the Local Authority

The Local Authority (LA) must decide whether or not to proceed with an EHC Needs Assessment and must inform the child’s parent or the young person of their decision within a maximum of six weeks from receiving a request for an EHC Needs Assessment (or having otherwise become responsible). The Local Authority (LA) must give reasons for this decision where it decides not to proceed.

If the Local Authority (LA) intends to conduct an EHC Needs Assessment, it must ensure the child’s parent or the young person is fully included from the start and made aware of opportunities to offer views and information.

If the decision is ‘YES’…

Where, in the light of an EHC Needs Assessment, it is necessary for special educational provision to be made in accordance with an EHC Plan, the Local Authority must then prepare a plan.

If the decision isNO’…

The Local Authority (LA) must inform the child’s parent or the young person of their decision within a maximum of six weeks from receiving a request for an EHC Needs Assessment.  Where the Local Authority (LA) decides not to conduct an EHC Needs Assessment, it must inform the child’s parent or the young person:

  • of their right to appeal that decision;
  • of the time limit for lodging an appeal;
  • of the requirement to consider mediation should they wish to appeal;
  • of the availability of information, advice and support and disagreement resolution services.
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