An Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment is an assessment of a child or young person’s education, health and care needs. It is the first step to getting an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan / EHCP). An EHC Plan can result in additional support and funding for a child or young person with special educational needs (SEN). It may be that the provision your child currently attends suggests applying for an EHCP, but it is also very common for parents / carers themselves to apply for it by way of a parental request.
You should make a written request and keep a copy of your letter. 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. You can use this model letter here, written by IPSEA:
If you are unsure who to address your letter to, you can find the Director of Children's Services of your Local Authority HERE. You should also including any supporting evidence you may have from meetings at school, individual behaviour plans of risk assessments, reports or assessments from health professionals such as a GP, educational psychologist, CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services), paediatrician, occupational therapist or speech and language therapist.
The LA must seek advice from a range of people, including:
- 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;
- Advice 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 of this information as a minimum.
You can also request that the LA seek advice from anyone within education, health or social care, as long as it is a reasonable request. This can include a speech and language therapist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist or someone from CAMHS, to support the assessment process. You should put this in writing to the LA and keep a copy for your records.
If a local authority is requested to carry out an EHC needs assessment by a parent, young person, school or college, they must consider:
- 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 legal test, as stated in the Children and Families Act 2014, means these are the only questions the LA should be asking when considering whether or not to carry out an EHC needs assessment. This is the only thing which needs to be evidenced when requesting an EHC Needs Assessment.
However, unfortunately, the number of applications which are agreed without the need for appeal are very low, especially when you consider the legal test which needs to be applied. It is very common for the LA to issue a refusal, but this does not mean your child will not receive an EHCP or you have failed in any way - most decisions are overturned on appeal.