Assessing a child or young person for special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities

EHC needs assessment and planning process overview

Week 0-6: Deciding whether to conduct an EHC needs assessment

Once the council receives a request for an assessment, they have up to 6 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 us make that decision.

Within 6 weeks of receiving a request for an assessment they will let you know whether they have decided:

  • To start the EHC needs assessment, OR
  • That an EHC needs assessment is not necessary

If the council decides not to carry out an assessment, they will let you know why and help you find other ways that your child can be supported in their school or other setting. They will also advise you about disagreement resolution, mediation and your rights of appeal.

What the SEND Code of Practice says

“A local authority must conduct an assessment of education, health and are needs when it considers that it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan.” (9.3)

Week 6-16: Conducting an EHC needs assessment

The council will make sure that you and your child are involved in the EHC needs assessment. They will signpost you to 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.

The assessment includes 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.

This information is called 'advice'. The assessment process will also identify effective outcomes for your child.

They will ask for advice and information from:

  • Parents (or the young person)
  • Your child’s early years setting, or school
  • An educational psychologist
  • Health practitioners who work with your child e.g. speech and language therapist, physiotherapist or paediatrician
  • Social care staff
  • Anyone else you ask them to contact who may be able to give relevant advice

If advice has already been provided (for any purpose) and everyone, including you, are satisfied that it remains current and is sufficient for the assessment process, we will not request it again.

What the SEND Code of Practice says

“Local authorities must consult the child and the child’s parent or the young person throughout the process of assessment and production of an EHC plan.” (9.21)

By the end of week 16: Deciding whether an EHC plan is needed

After the assessment has been completed the council will then decide whether or not an EHC plan is necessary.

If they decide that an EHC plan is not needed, they will tell you within 16 weeks of the date we received the request for an assessment. They will advise you about disagreement resolution, mediation and your rights of appeal.

Week 16-20: Preparing an EHC plan

If the council decides to proceed with an EHC plan, they will work closely with you and your child to make sure the plan takes account of your views, wishes and feelings.

A draft of the EHC plan will be sent to you. The draft will not contain the name or type of school or other setting your child will attend.

You have 15 days to make comments, to ask for a meeting or to accept the draft plan.

At this 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. You can find out more about your rights to request a particular school or college in the SEND Code of Practice (sections 9.78 to 9.90).

The council have 20 weeks from the request for the EHC needs assessment to issue the final plan to you.

Once an EHC plan has been finalised, they will ensure that the special educational support in section F of the plan is provided, along with any social care provision identified in sections H1 and H2. The health service will ensure the health support in section G is provided. This will help to enable your child to achieve the outcomes that you have jointly identified and agreed.

An EHC plan must:

  • Establish and record the views, interests and aspirations of the parents and child or young person
  • Be clear, concise, understandable and accessible
  • Provide a full description of the child or young person’s special educational needs and any health and social care needs
  • Establish good, relevant outcomes across education, health and social care based on needs and aspirations with a long term focus on preparing for adulthood and being independent, having relationships, being healthy and being in employment
  • Specify the provision required and how education, health and care services will work together

The EHC plan will be reviewed annually.

What the SEND Code of Practice says

“The purpose of an EHC plan is to make special educational provision to meet the special educational needs of the child or young person, to secure the best possible outcomes for them across education, health and social care and, as they get older, prepare them for adulthood.” (9.2)

EHC plan online asessment request 

Further information

Education Health and Care department responsibilities and contacts

Need more help?

Contact the Information, Advice and Support Service for free, impartial information, advice and support for parents and carers of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Support is also offered to children and young people with SEND. They can also help provide information in a non-web format.