When is an EHC needs assessment necessary?

The school post 16 institution or early years setting can often give your child help through SEN support.

This means that the school makes additional or different provision from that provided to most other pupils to meet their needs.

Sometimes other professionals will give advice or support to help your child learn. Some children need more help than the school can provide.

If your child does not make progress despite everything the school has tried, an EHC needs assessment might be the next step.

In considering whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary, the local authority should 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, the child or young person has not made expected progress.

The local authority will look at:

  • Your child’s attainments and rate of progress
  • Their special educational needs
  • What has already been done
  • The difference that support has made
  • Your child’s physical, emotional and social development and health needs.

The law states that if your child;

  • Whether the child or young person has or may have special educational needs (“SEN”); and
  • Whether they may need special educational provision to be made through an EHC plan.
  • If the answer to both of these questions is yes, they must carry out an EHC needs assessment.

    This test is set out in the law (section 36(8) of the Children and Families Act 2014). This means these are the only questions the LA should be asking when considering whether or not to carry out an EHC needs assessment.

    This means that you do not have to prove that an EHC plan is necessary to obtain an assessment, you just have to show it may be necessary. If you think your child needs more help than the school can provide, you can ask for an assessment.

    The legal test for issuing an EHC Plan revolves around the word ‘necessary’. Case law has determined that the word ‘necessary’ means somewhere between ‘indispensable and useful’, it is a wide definition and determination will vary according to the facts of each case.

    The SEND Code of Practice says: A local authority must conduct an assessment of education, health and care needs when it considers that it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan.

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