What to expect during an EHC needs assessment
About the assessment process
The assessment process will help us find out more about your child’s needs. The information gathered may help the setting to meet a child or young person’s needs without an EHC plan. An assessment does not always lead to an EHC plan but will provide more information about your child’s needs and the support needed to meet their needs.
Weeks 0 to 6: Request and information gathering
The request for an EHC needs assessment can be made by:
- a school or education setting
- parents or carers
- a young person aged 16 to 25
- a professional.
Your EHCP Officer will ask you to complete a form about your child’s needs - what is working well and what needs to be improved.
You should send us any information you have about your child’s special educational needs, for example, reports from doctors or speech and language therapists. The more information you can send with your initial request, the quicker we will be able to make a decision about whether an assessment is needed. In some circumstances, where you can provide evidence of complex medical needs, we may be able to agree to an assessment straight away without carrying out this stage.
We will gather initial information and evidence from your child’s school or setting, the Educational Psychology Service, health providers and social care.
We will use this information to decide if we will carry out an EHC needs assessment and give you our decision within 6 weeks of receiving the request.
If you don’t agree with our decision, you have the right of appeal.
If we decide to carry out a needs assessment, we will move onto the next stage.
If we decide that an assessment is not needed for your child
Most children and young adults with additional needs don't need an education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment or an EHC plan.
We'll give you our reasons for not agreeing to an EHC needs assessment in writing. You can request a meeting with your EHCP Officer to discuss your options.
If you still don’t agree with our decision, you have the right of appeal.
Weeks 6 to 16: Getting advice from professionals
We will ask for advice and information about your child’s needs, the provision required to meet their needs and the outcomes they should be working towards. We will get this from:
- you and your child
- your child’s school or setting
- health practitioners, for example speech and language therapists and doctors who are working with your child as part of the graduated response
- social care, early help or voluntary sector practitioners who are working with your child as part of the graduated response
- an educational psychologist and any other person we think is appropriate.
We will ask if there is anybody else you would like us to contact, for example someone who is working with your child and who may be able to give us information about their needs and support they require.
Sometimes a service may want to carry out a new assessment on your child, for example a speech and language therapist may want to find out more about how your child communicates and if they have any specific difficulties with communicating. If a service wants to carry out a new assessment on your child, they will talk to you directly about this.
An EHC needs assessment does not automatically mean that your child will have a full assessment by an educational psychologist or health practitioner. It will depend if the services are already working with you and your child and the amount of information they already have.
The people we ask for information have 6 weeks to respond. Your EHCP Officer will keep you informed of the progress of your child’s assessment.
By week 16: Draft EHC plan
We will contact you with our decision, either:
- Your child’s needs can continue to be met through the resources normally available to schools and settings.
- We will be drafting an EHC plan for your child.
What your draft EHC plan will look like
Every EHCP will have the same set of sections, these are set out in law. Your draft plan will never have a school placement named in it.
When you receive your plan
We will ask for your views about the draft plan and if you think we need to change it in any way. You can give us this feedback in writing, by email, over the phone, or by arranging a meeting with us. Your SEND Officer will ask you how you want to provide this feedback.
You will also be asked to tell us which school or setting you would like your child to attend. We will send the plan to them to ask if they can meet your child’s needs and provide the support outlined in the plan. They have 15 days to reply, which is called the ‘consultation period’.
SENDIASS has some examples of questions you might want to ask when choosing a school.
By week 20: Final EHC plan
We will issue the final EHC plan by week 20.
We will work hard to make sure everybody is happy with the final EHC plan. However, there may be items in the plan that you are not happy with, for example, if you feel that your child’s needs or the provision needed to meet their needs is not adequately reflected, or you are not happy with the school or setting named.
If this is the case, even though we have issued the final version, you still have the right to appeal.