EHC Needs Assessment
An EHC Needs Assessment is a formal process undertaken by the LA to find out exactly what a child or young person’s special educational, health and social care needs are, and what support is required to meet those needs.
It is the first step in determining whether your child needs an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
If your child has a SEN and/or a disability, or you believe they may have, if they are struggling with or not accessing education, not making adequate process, and you believe that special educational provision may be required over and above what is available from the school’s normal resources, then you as parents or carers, a young person or the school, can apply for an EHC Needs Assessment.
If you are applying as parents, check your LA’s Local Offer website for details on how to apply.
Requesting an EHC needs assessment
The legal threshold to apply for an EHC Needs Assessment is relatively low. There are two criteria that the LA must consider, when deciding whether or not to assess.
Relevant legislation: Section 36 (8) of the Children and Families Act 2014
The LA must secure an EHC needs assessment for the child or young person if
- the child or young person 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.
You may not know exactly what your child may require but you will need evidence to support your application: any diagnoses, school reports, provision plans from the schools, any assessment reports etc.
Please see our information sheet on applying for an EHC Needs Assessment. This also includes a template letter that you may wish to use. Although the LA may well have a different template or method for applying, you are not obliged to use those and may write a letter.
The LA has 6 weeks to respond and inform you of its decision. This will come via letter which offers you the right to mediation and to appeal its decision.
Common Myths and Questions
If no EP is available, can LA extend timescales for carrying out EHC needs assessment?CharlotteOnce the LA has agreed to conduct an EHC needs assessment, it must be completed within 16 weeks from the date the request was made. If there is no LA Educational Psychologist available, the LA should be seeking a private assessment in order that it meets the statutory timescales to issue a final EHCP at 20 weeks.
You can’t get an EHCP for a child with dyslexiaCharlotteDyslexia is a special educational need and as such, may require specialist educational provision to be made to support the child or young person over and above what is available within the typical mainstream resources. This might include specialist teaching, a high level of support from a TA, or a specialist setting. Each case is an individual one. This would then require an EHCP. Dyslexia is also considered a disability under the Equality Act 2010 and therefore, depending on the scale of need, a school will be required to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that the child or or young person is not disadvantaged compared to his or her peers.
You can only apply for an EHC needs assessment through the LA’s online hub or formCharlotteThis is not the case. You can apply in writing, send by post or email. You do not have to use the LA's prescribed format to submit your request.
The school needs to spend £6K before you can apply for an EHCPCharlotteNo this is not accurate. The legal threshold contained in Section 36 (8) of the Children and Families Act 2014 does not require that the school spends £6,000 before you can apply for an EHC needs assessment. If you receive a refusal to assess where this is stated, the LA has applied a higher level criteria to its decision-making which would not be a lawful reason to refuse.
A child needs a diagnosis in order to get SEN Support/an EHCPCharlotteNo. This is not the case. A child or young person does not need to have received a formal diagnosis in order to get support from a school or apply for an EHC needs assessment.
EHCP – you won’t get one because your child is academically ableThis CompanyThis is not the case. Paragraph 9.14 of the SEND Code of Practice 2014 sets out that when considering whether assessment is necessary, the LA must pay attention not just to a child’s academic attainment or rate of progress, but also evidence of the physical, emotional and social development, and health needs.
Only a school can apply for an EHC needs assessment?This CompanyThis is not the case. A parent, on behalf of a child, and a young person are able to apply for an EHC needs assessment. If your school is telling you there is a waiting list, that you won’t get one, or don’t need one, apply yourself.
A school must show how it has spent its £6,000 SEND budget, an EP must have been involved, or evidence of a Graduated Approach must be provided before you can apply for an EHC needs assessmentThis CompanyNone of these are lawful criteria when considering a decision on whether or not to assess for an EHCP. There are only two legal criteria the LA should consider, contained in Section 36 (8) of the Children and Families Act 2014. The LA must conduct an EHC needs assessment if a) the child or young person has or may have special educational needs, and b) it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan.
Find out more:
- Download our free EHC Needs Assessment info sheet and template letter
- See our SOS!SEN booklet on Assessment of Special Educational Needs (£6)
- Take a look at our pre-recorded webinar on The EHC Needs Assessment Process (£10)
- Read more about appealing the refusal to assess in our Help Centre.