This information is about Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment, which is sometimes called statutory assessment. It covers:
- Children in early years settings
- Children of school age and young people up to 25 years of age.
An EHC assessment, if agreed to be carried out following an EHC assessment request, is a 20-week process.
An EHC Assessment may also be referred to as a Statutory Assessment.
A local authority (“LA”) is required to notify you of its decision on your request for assessment within 6 weeks of receiving it.
The local authority will decide whether to it will issue an education, health and care plan by week 16 of the process.
An Education, Health and Care (“EHC”) needs assessment is an assessment of the education, health care and social care needs of the child or young person.
Who will carry out the EHC assessment?
The local authority (“LA”) must seek information and advice on a child or young person’s needs, the provision required to meet those needs, and the outcomes expected to be achieved by the child or young person. This advice must come from a range of different people, described below.
The LA has the legal duty to carry out the assessment process. They cannot ask a school or college to carry out the assessment for them, and they cannot require the school or college to pay for any part of the assessment (such as the educational psychologist’s report).
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.
Who should be asked for advice?
The LA must seek advice from a range of people. The list is set out in Regulation 6(1) of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014;
- The child’s parent or the young person;
- Educational advice (usually from the head teacher or principal);
- Medical advice and information from a health care professional;
- Psychological advice and information from an educational psychologist;
- Advice and information in relation to social care;
- And information from any other person the local authority thinks appropriate;
- Where the child or young person is in or beyond year 9, advice and information in relation to provision to assist the child or young person in preparation for adulthood and independent living; and
- Advice and information from any person the child’s parent or young person reasonably requests that the local authority seek advice from.
- The LA is legally required to seek all this information as a minimum.
If a child or young person is hearing impaired and/or visually impaired the educational advice must come from a suitably qualified person
The LA should consider whether a social care assessment or health assessment is also needed. There is some debate as to whether health and care assessments are automatically triggered when a request for an EHC needs assessment is made. In practice, it is best to request social care and health assessments independently to ensure the request is received.
In addition, the local authority must not seek any of the advice referred to above if such advice has previously been provided for any purpose and the person providing that advice, the local authority and the child’s parent or the young person are all satisfied that it is sufficient for the purposes of an EHC needs assessment.
Can parents or young people ask for advice from a particular person?
Yes, a parent or young person can ask the LA to seek advice from anyone within education, health or social care, if it is a reasonable request. This can include a speech and language therapist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist or someone from CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services).
A request would be considered reasonable where, for example, a child or young person has been identified as needing an assessment already and they are on a waiting list, or where the school, college or other professionals have said this advice may be needed.
It is best to request that a professional is approached in writing (either in a letter or an email), so that you have a record of your request.
What if there are existing reports or advice about the child or young person?
The LA does not have to seek new advice where that type of advice has previously been provided for any purpose – for example, if there already was a recent educational psychologist’s report. This exception will only apply if the person providing that advice, the LA and the child’s parent or the young person are all satisfied that the existing advice is sufficient. Previous advice can only be sufficient for an EHC needs assessment if it is relatively up to date and accurately reflects the child or young person’s current needs. As a rough guide, an educational psychologist’s report which is over two years old will not usually be recent enough to be useful.
If a parent or young person already has their own advice and reports, these can be submitted as part of their own advice, which the LA must ask for to ensure that they form part of the assessment process. This evidence must then be considered when the LA makes its decision.
Copies of evidence submitted by the parent or the young person must be supplied to the other people from whom information is being sought
What should the advice contain?
Professionals advice must be clear, accessible and specific. It should address the child or young person’s needs, the special educational provision required to meet those needs, and the outcomes which this provision will aim to achieve. LAs are not permitted to have policies preventing professionals from giving evidence on the provision required.
The assessment process – principles underpinning co-ordinated assessment and planning
When securing an EHC needs assessment a local authority must:
- Consult the child and the child’s parent, or the young person and take into account their views, wishes and feelings;
- Consider any information provided to the local authority by or at the request of the child, the child’s parent or the young person;
- Consider the information and advice obtained;
- Engage the child and the child’s parent, or the young person and ensure they are able to participate in decisions; and
- Minimise disruption for the child, the child’s parent, the young person and their family.
There is an emphasis in the SEND Code of Practice 2015 on ensuring all assessments have a person-centred approach and there is effective co-ordination.
The SEND Code of Practice states that the assessment and planning process should:
- Focus on the child or young person as an individual
- Enable children and young people and their parents to express their views, wishes and feelings
- Enable children and young people and their parents to be part of the decision-making process
- Be easy for children, young people and their parents or carers to understand, and use clear ordinary language and images rather than professional jargon
- Highlight the child or young person’s strengths and capabilities
- Enable the child or young person, and those that know them best to say what they have done, what they are interested in and what outcomes they are seeking in the future tailor support to the needs of the individual
- Organise assessments to minimise demands on families bring together relevant professionals to discuss and agree together the overall approach, and deliver an outcomes-focused and co-ordinated plan for the child or young person and their parent support and encourage the involvement of children, young people and parents or carers by
- Providing them with access to the relevant information in accessible formats
- Giving them time to prepare for discussions and meetings, and
- Dedicating time in discussions and meetings to hear their views.
If the LA decides to issue an EHC plan, it will first send out a draft plan for the parent or young person to review and comment on, you will be given 15 calendar days to do so.
It should then send the final EHC plan to the parent or young person within 20 weeks from the date the assessment was requested.