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Education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment

Education, health and care (EHC) plans have replaced statements of special educational needs (SEN) and learning disability assessments (LDAs).

EHC plans describe the support that will be provided to an individual from a wide range of services and from within their family and their local community to address their SEN or disability (SEND).

What is an education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment?

An EHC needs assessment is a legal process that we as a local authority have to carry out. Our 0 to 25 SEND Assessment Team carries out the EHC needs assessments. 

We must carry out an EHC needs assessment if we believe your child's special educational needs or disability (SEND) may need more help than a mainstream education setting can normally provide. 

When is an EHC needs assessment carried out?

Most children and young people with SEND don't need an assessment. Their local school or setting can meet their needs through SEN support

Some children and young people have severe, complex and long-term needs. They may not make progress with SEND support. These children and young people may need an EHC needs assessment.

As a parent or carer you can talk to your child's school or setting about whether an assessment is appropriate. 

Who can request an EHC needs assessment

Anyone can request an EHC needs assessment. This includes:

  • parents and carers
  • young people themselves, if they're over 16 but under the age of 25
  • schools and other settings
  • paediatrician
  • social worker

Most requests come from the school or setting. They must have permission from the parent or carer or the young person themselves. 

How you make a request for an EHC needs assessment

As a parent, carer or young person, you can email our 0 to 25 SEND Assessment Team to request an assessment. You should explain your reasons for requesting an EHC needs assessment. If you can't email, you can write to us.

Complete an EHC needs assessment request form if you're from a school or setting. 

What happens to requests for an EHC needs assessment

We allocate requests to a named SEN planning coordinator. They will support you as a family through the process. They might ask the school or setting for further information if someone else requested the assessment. 

The SEND panel make decisions about whether to start an assessment. This is a group of professionals from different education services. Health and social services will also attend where they can. 

The SEND planning coordinator will tell everyone the decision of the panel. They'll do this within 6 weeks of receiving the request. 

Why we turn requests down

Usually we don't start an assessment because:

  • the school or setting can support the child or young person through SEND support
  • the child or young person's needs are unclear
  • it's unclear what help they're currently getting

Who takes part in an EHC needs assessment

The EHC needs assessment is a person-centred process. This means we must listen to the views, wishes and feelings of the child or young person and their family. 

We'll ask the child or young person and their family what they want for the future.

We'll get advice from:

  • your child or young person's school or setting
  • a specialist teacher if they have one
  • a health practitioner
  • an educational psychologist
  • a social worker
  • anyone else involved with the child or young person

We'll ask them:

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

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

What happens next

The SEN planning coordinator drafts an EHC plan. They will share this with everyone and they'll ask if anyone has any comments. 

The final version of the draft EHC plan goes to the SEND panel. The panel decides if the child or young person needs a statutory EHC plan. The SEND planning coordinator will tell everyone what the decision of the panel was. 

We will explain if a statutory EHC plan isn't agreed.

How long an EHC needs assessment takes

It should take no longer than 20 weeks for us to complete an assessment. 

Find out more about the EHC plan timeline.

Support available for families during the assessment

You can find help from (SENDIASS), the special educational needs and disability information and support service, who can guide families through the assessment.

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