A small number of pupils may need more help than a mainstream school can normally give at the level of SEN support. Such pupils may need an Education Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment to decide what help they need. This assessment can lead to an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan.

Pupils with an EHC Plan can go to a mainstream school or a special school, depending on their needs. In a special school there are only pupils with special educational needs, and they will usually have needs that are more complex. The school may have specially trained teachers, therapists or special equipment to support them.

Who can request an EHC assessment?

The following people have a specific right under the Children’s & Families Act 2014 to ask a local authority to conduct an EHC assessment for a child or young person aged between 0 and 25:

  • The child’s parent
  • A young person over the age of 16 but under the age of 25, and
  • A person acting on behalf of a school or post-16 institution (the SEND Code of Practice states that this should be with the knowledge and agreement of the parent or young person where possible).

In addition, anyone else can bring a child or young person who has (or may have) SEN to the attention of the local authority, particularly where they think an EHC needs assessment may be necessary. This could include, for example, health and social care professionals, early years practitioners, this should be done with the knowledge and, where possible, agreement of the child’s parent or the young person.

Where a child or young person has been brought to the local authority’s attention, they must determine whether an EHC needs assessment is required.

There is a right to request an assessment up to the young person’s 25th birthday.

What do the LA consider when deciding on carry out an EHC Assessment?

Paragraph 9.14 of the SEND Code of Practice 2015 states that “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 LA should pay particular attention to:

  • Evidence of the child or young person’s academic attainment (or developmental milestones in younger children) and rate of progress;
  • Information about the nature, extent and context of the child or young person’s SEN;
  • Evidence of the action already taken by the school or other setting;
  • Evidence that where progress has been made, it has only been as the result of much 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 by other agencies.

When should I request an education, health and care (“EHC”) needs assessment?

If a child or young person has a learning difficulty or a disability which is holding them back at school or college, and the parents of the child or the young person (or the young person themselves) believe that the school or college is not able to provide the help and support which is needed, then a request should be made to the Local Authority (“LA”) for an EHC needs assessment.

You can do this at any time.

You can only ask for an EHC needs assessment if the child or young person has, or may have, SEN – it does not apply where there are only health or social care needs. Remember that under the law, a child has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or a disability which calls for special educational provision.

For children under 16, the parent makes the request. This includes children from age 0 to 5, where parents should make a request if they believe that the child will need extra help at nursery or when they start school.

In the case of a young person (over 16 and up to 25), they can make the request themselves. If the young person is not able to understand, remember or communicate decisions about the educational support they need, their parent or carer can make the request on a young person’s behalf.

Can my child’s school / college (post 16 provision) help?

Yes – you should approach the school to speak to them about your concerns.

You can speak to the class teacher and the school SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator)

The SENCO is responsible for the SEN provision, along with the head or principle.

The school or college can write an EHC Assessment request of your behalf, but it is good practice if you do this together. If you make the request yourself, that way you can be sure it has been made, if you do this you can ask the school or college if they would write a letter to support your application. The school or college can detail how they support your child and what extra provision they provide and/or what they believe is needed to support your child’s learning.

How should I make the request?

You should make a written request. You can write a letter to post or email but do request a receipt/ acknowledgement that the LA has received your request. Your letter should set out why you believe your child has or may have special educational needs, and why you believe they may need special educational provision to be made through an EHC Plan.

Please see our Further Resources section for links to letter templates to assist you.

Who should I write to?

Please see details here of who to write the request to. Please note you can use the LA’s template to request an EHC Assessment, but you do not have to.

Sutton information on EHC Plans and EHC Assessment Requests.

When should I hear back?

The LA must reply within six weeks (this is required by regulation 4(1) of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014). They should always reply to you as a parent or young person – even where the request was made by the school or college.

Make a note of the six-week deadline for the LA’s reply. If they do not respond in time, please see our Further Resources section for links to letter templates to assist you.

EHC 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.Please note that it is after the assessment that the LA will decide whether they will issue an EHC Plan.

What will the LA’s response say?

You will receive a decision letter from the LA stating whether they have agreed to carry out an EHC assessment or not, along with their reasons for the decision.

If the LA agrees to carry out an assessment, various people will need to be approached for advice.

If the LA refuses to carry out an assessment, you have the right to appeal against this decision. The letter should explain that there is a right to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) and should contain details of a mediation service for you to contact.

Disclaimer: SIASS has made all reasonable efforts to ensure that the information contained here is accurate and up to date at the time of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and SIASS cannot accept any responsibility for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of any reliance placed upon it.
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