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The Education Heath and Care (EHC) needs assessment process

An Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment is the process whereby the Local Authority (LA) investigate a child’s special educational needs to decide whether the child needs support through an EHC plan.

How long is the assessment process?

The EHC needs assessment process takes up to 20 weeks from start to finish.

When does the process start?

This process starts as soon as the Local Authority (LA) has recieved a request for an EHC needs assessment from:

  • the parent of a child or young person under the age of 16 (or an advocate on their behalf); 
  • a young person aged between 16 and 25 (or an advocate on their behalf);
  • a person acting on behalf of an education setting: school; early years setting or post-16 institution (where possible, this should be with the knowledge and agreement of the child’s parent or young person). Please see an exemplar of a school request in the downloadable documents on the righ hand side of this webpage.

Or, when anyone else (e.g. foster carer, health and social care practitioner, those responsible for education in custody *, school or college staff), has brought a child or young person who has (or may have) SEN to the attention of the local authority.

* Children and young people under 19 (between the ages of 10-18) in youth custodial establishments also have the right to request an assessment for an EHC plan.

What happens when a request for an EHC assessment is made?

Regardless of who makes the request both:

  • educational providers (pre-school, school, college etc.); and  
  • parents/carers/young people,

will be requested to submit their views and evidence in advance of that information being presented to the SEND Panel and a decision being made on whether or not the LA feels it is necessary to contine to undertake a full EHC needs assessment.

How and when does the LA decides whether or not to carry out an EHC needs assessment?

The SEND Panel is a consultative moderation group. In the majority of cases, this Panel used to give considered recommendations to the LA officer responsible for making the final decision. The SEND panel meet fortnightly (term time only). It is chaired by the SEN LA officer responsible for making the decision and consists of representatives from Educational Psychology, Advisory Teaching, SENCO’s, health and social care.

The Local Authority must make a decision and communicate that decision to the child’s parent and/or young person and the educational provider within 6 weeks of receiving the request.

What if the LA decide not to undertake an EHC needs assessment?

If the LA decide that it is not necassary to undertake a full EHC needs assessment and parents or the young person disagree with that decision, they have a right to mediation and right of appeal to the SEND tribunal.

You need to consider mediation and obtain a mediation certificate in advance of submitting an appeal to the SEND tribunal. 

If the LA agree to carry out an assessment what happens next?

If the Local Authority decides to undertake an EHC needs assessment they will allocate a SEN Casework Officer, who will be responsible for collecting all of the relevant information from education, health and care professionals.

Please see an exemplar of a advice recieved in the downloadable documents on the righ hand side of this webpage.

When will the LA decide whether or not to issue an EHC plan?

When all of the information has been gathered, detailing the child /young persons aspirations, needs and the level of support (provision) required to meet the identified learning goals (outcomes), the LA will decide whether or not it is necessary for them to issue an EHC plan.

How will the LA keep parents informed about the process?

When the Local Authority (LA) agrees to carry out an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment and the aseessment leads to an EHC plan being issued, the LA will keep in contact with parents throughout the process as shown in the diagram below.

Working Together - Torbay SEND - 20 week process

Within the first 6 weeks of receiving a request for assessment (RSA) each child/young person is discussed in a multi agency meeting (SEND Panel) and a decision to assess is made.

By week 6 or 7 after receiving a request for assessment (RSA) the allocated SEN Casework officer phones the parent/carer with the offer of a office visit or home visit for the purpose of gaining the parent/carer and child/young people's views and aspirations.

Between weeks 6 and 11 the Torbay SEND are collecting all of the information necessary to make an assessment of need. Health will need to provide us with information about your child/young person's level of need. You may be offered an appointment from a health colleague, this is very important for our assessment so we need you to attend. Children's Services will also need to provide us with information about your child/young person's level of need. If you are not known to a social worker or social work team then you will be offered an assessment via a phone call. If appendacies are more than 2 weeks late the SEN team will phone you to let you know which professionals have responded to SEN by sending Appendicies (thier assessment of your child/young person's needs).

SEN aim to be drafting your child's EHC plan from week 11 onwards after having received all of the relevant information from other professionals.

By week 16 after receiving the request for assessment (RSA) patrents/carers and young people get sent the draft Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) and get the chance to read it and respond with any changes they wish to be made. Parents/carers or the young person also get the opportunity to the nursery/school or college of thier preference alongside making any comments in relation to the draft EHCP.

Between weeks 17 and 19 the SEN team are in consultation with the nursery/school or college.

By week 20 after receiving the request for assessment (RSA) the EHCP is finalised naming the agreed provision (nursery/school or college).

When will the LA let parents know if an EHC plan is going to be issued?

Within 16 weeks of the LA receiving a request for an EHC needs assessment, providing the LA felt it was necessary to continue to undertake a full EHC needs assessment, the LA will issue:

  • an EHC needs assessment outcome, if the support required can be met at SEN support without the need for an EHC plan
  • a draft EHC plan

What if the LA decides not to issue an EHC plan?

If the LA decide that it is not necessary to issue an EHC needs plan and parents or the young person disagree with that decision, they have a right to mediation and right of appeal to the SEND tribunal.

You need to consider mediation and obtain a mediation certificate in advance of submitting an appeal to the SEND tribunal. 

What happens when a draft EHC plan is issued?

Upon receiving a draft EHC plan parents/young people have 15 days to agree with the draft or talk to the LA about possible alterations and to choose the school they would like to be named on the final EHC plan.

The Local Authority then has to consult with the parent or young persons choice of school before they decide whether or not they can name that school on the final EHC plan.

What if parents disagree with the contents of the final EHC plan issued?

If a parent/young person disagrees with the contents of the final EHC plan issued, they have a right to mediation and right of appeal to the SEND tribunal.

You need to consider mediation and obtain a mediation certificate in advance of submitting an appeal to the SEND tribunal, in all cases apart from appeals that only relate to Section I (the educational placement named).