What is an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment?
An Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment is a co-ordinated comprehensive assessment, in order to find out exactly what your child or young person’s special educational needs (SEN) are and the special help he or she might need.
Your child’s school or other setting will often be able to meet the needs of children through SEN support, but sometimes a child or young person needs a more intensive level of specialist help that cannot be met from the resources available to schools and other settings to provide SEN support.
In these circumstances, you or your child’s school or other setting could consider asking your local authority for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment for your child. This assessment could lead to your child getting an EHC plan. Some children and young people will have needs that clearly require an EHC needs assessment and plan and once the local authority is aware of them it should start this process without delay.
Who can ask for an EHC needs assessment?
The following people have a legal right to request an EHC needs assessment:
- a young person over the age of 16 and under the age of 25
- a person acting on behalf of an early years setting, school or post-16 institution (this should ideally be with the knowledge and agreement of the parent or young person)
Anyone else who thinks an EHC needs assessment may be necessary such as foster carers, health and social care professionals, early years practitioners, youth offending teams or probation services, those responsible for education in custody, school or college staff or a family friend can bring this to the attention of the Local Authority but doesn’t have a specific right to request an assessment.
How do I request an EHC needs assessment?
A written request for an EHC needs assessment should be sent to the SEN Assessment Team at:
Portsmouth City Council
Inclusion Service: SEND Team
Floor 2, Civic Offices
Telephone number: 02392 841238
Contact a Family have produced a guide to EHC needs assessments which includes an example of the wording you might use to request an assessment. You can find the guide here.
What happens next?
Considering whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary
Once your local authority identifies that your child has SEN or receives a request for an assessment, they have up to six weeks to decide whether to carry one out. During that time, they will ask you and others – such as your child’s school or other setting – for information to help them make that decision. You may wish to gather together all the reports and letters from your child’s school or other setting, doctors’ and any other assessments that have been produced about your child. You may also want to write about your child’s needs and how long they have had them.
If your local authority decides not to carry out an assessment, they need to let you know their decision within six weeks of receiving a request for an assessment. Your local authority is expected to help you find other ways that your child can be supported in their school or other setting.
What evidence will be taken into account when deciding whether to make an EHC needs assessment?
The LA will look for evidence that despite ‘relevant and purposeful’ action being taken to identify, assess and meet the needs of your child or young person, they have not made expected progress. This will include:
- evidence of your 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 your child or young person’s SEN
- evidence of the action already being taken by their 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 your child or young person’s physical, emotional and social development and health needs
- where your young person is ages over 18, whether they require additional time to complete their education and training, and to prepare for adulthood
Information on timescales can be found on the Portsmouth Local Offer.
What happens during the EHC needs assessment?
Local authorities need to make sure that you and your child are fully involved in the EHC needs assessment. They need to provide you with impartial information, advice and support to help you understand the process and make sure you are properly involved in decisions that affect your child.
This may include help from an Independent Supporter or from Portsmouth Impartial Information Advice and Support Service. Click here for our contact details.
The assessment includes talking to you and your child and finding out from you what support you think your child needs, and what aspirations you and your child have for his or her future. The assessment also includes seeking information and views from people who work with your child, such as class teachers, doctors and educational psychologists.
Deciding whether an EHC plan is needed
After your local authority has made its assessment, having involved you and your child fully in the process, it will then decide whether or not an EHC plan is necessary. If they decide that an EHC plan is not needed, they must tell you within 16 weeks of the date they received a request for an assessment.
Preparing an EHC plan
If your local authority decides to proceed with an EHC plan, they should work closely with you and your child to make sure the plan takes full account of your views, wishes and feelings. Once the plan has been written, a draft will be sent to you which must not contain the name of the school or other setting your child will attend.
You will be given 15 days to comment on the draft and you can ask for a meeting to discuss it if you want one. At that point you will also be able to request a specific school, or other setting, you want your child to attend. This could be a mainstream school or special school. Your local authority has 20 weeks from the request for the EHC needs assessment to issue the final plan to you.
The final EHC Plan
If you suggest any changes to the draft EHC plan and these are agreed by the local authority, the draft plan should be amended and issued as the final EHC plan as quickly as possible. The local authority must not make any other changes apart from incorporating your agreed amendments and naming the placement – if the local authority wishes to make other changes it must re-issue the draft EHC plan to you.
The final EHC plan should be signed and dated by the local authority officer responsible for signing off the final plan.
Where you have suggested changes which are not agreed, the local authority may still proceed to issue the final EHC plan. If this happens, the local authority must notify you of your right to appeal to the Tribunal and the time limit for doing so, of the requirement for you to consider mediation should you wish to appeal, and the availability of information, advice and support and disagreement resolution services. The local authority should also notify you how you can appeal the health and social care provision in the EHC plan.
As well as the child’s parent or the young person, the final EHC plan must also be issued to the governing body, proprietor or principal of any school, college or other institution named in the EHC plan, and to the relevant CCG (or where relevant, NHS England).
Where a nursery, school or college is named in an EHC plan, they must admit the child or young person. The head teacher or principal of the school, college or other institution named in the EHC plan should ensure that those teaching or working with your child or young person are aware of their needs and have arrangements in place to meet them. Institutions should also ensure that teachers and lecturers monitor and review your child or young person’s progress during the course of a year.
Once an EHC plan has been finalised, your local authority has to ensure that the special educational support in section F of the plan is provided, and the health service has to ensure the health support in section G is provided. This should help to enable your child to meet the outcomes that you have jointly identified and agreed.
Your local authority has to review your child’s EHC plan at least every 12 months. That review has to include working with you and your child and asking you what you think and what you want to happen, and a meeting which you must be invited to.
If the LA decide a plan is not necessary
If a Local Authority decides an EHC plan is not necessary, it must notify the child’s parents or young person, the school and the health service and give the reasons for its decision. This must be done by 16 weeks from the initial request. The LA must also give details of the right of appeal and the time limit for doing so and avenues of information, advice and support. Click here for our contact details.
The LA should ensure you are aware of the resources available to meet SEN within mainstream provision under SEN Support and other support which is set out in the Local Offer.
- Always request and EHC needs assessment in writing from your LA.
- Keep a copy of your letter.
- Make a note of the 6 week deadline.
The Code of Practice is available online here.
The Department for Education have also written the following guide for parents and carers - click here.