My child has been refused an EHC Needs Assessment

Firstly... don't panic.  This is all too common, way more common than it should be!  The threshold for an assessment is actually very low.  You only need to show that your child "has or may have special educational needs and it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan."

Once you or your school have submitted a request of an EHC Needs Assessment, the Local Authority (LA) have 6 weeks to respond with a decision.  If they refuse to carry out the needs assessment, they must give the reasons for its decision and notify you of your right to appeal this decision to the SEND Tribunal, together with information about time limits, the requirement to consider mediation, and the availability of disagreement resolution services and information, advice and support. You must send your appeal form to the Tribunal within two months from the date of the LA’s decision letter, or one month from obtaining a mediation certificate, whichever is later.

The law says you have to first consider mediation before registering your appeal, you do not necessarily have to engage in it, just consider it.  It may be useful to enter mediation if you have not have many conversations with your LA regarding their decision, but likewise you may feel you are hitting your head against a brick wall in doing so if those conversations have already been had.

If appealing to the SEND Tribunal, you will need to convince them that the child or young person has or may have SEN, and may need provision through an EHC plan in order to access the right educational help.

Generally there are three ways of establishing this. You can argue that:
1. A full assessment is the only way to find out what the difficulties are and what help is needed;
2. The school/institution may not be able to supply all the educational help needed unless it receives extra help from the LA;
3. The school/institution has provided all the help that could be expected but the child or young person has not made enough progress.

The SEND Tribunal’s website provides useful information on the procedures and how to submit your case. Make sure that you use the correct form for refusal to assess appeals, which can be found here. You will find a super useful and thorough guide on appealing a refusal to assess decision below.


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