EHC needs assessment and planning process overview

The EHC needs assessment is an investigative process that is intended to ascertain what a child's or young person's special educational needs are and whether they require provision that would exceed what can be provided within their current setting. From the date a request for assessment is received, we have 20 weeks to issue a final EHC plan should we agree to issue an EHCP.

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

As a council, once we receive a request for an EHCP needs assessment, we have up to 6 weeks from the date of submission to decide whether or not to initiate an assessment. When considering whether a child or young person should be assessed for an EHCP, we must secure an assessment if it is of the opinion that:

  • 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.

We review all requests for assessment that are submitted to us at a multi-agency panel that meets every week. The panel comprises professionals from each of the assessment areas which include but are not limited to:

  • Educational psychologists
  • Speech and language therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Community paediatricians
  • SEN advisory teachers
  • Social workers

Following receipt of your application, you will be able to submit further information if you feel that more evidence is available to support your application.

Within 6 weeks of receiving a request for an assessment we will advise you as to whether we have decided to:

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

If we decide not to carry out an assessment, we will let you know why and detail the ways your child can be supported in their school or other setting. We 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 to 16: Conducting an EHC needs assessment

We will make sure that you and your child or young person are involved in the EHC needs assessment. We 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.

As part of the assessment, you, and the child or young person for whom the assessment has been initiated will be asked for your views as to what you think will be needed to ensure that the child or young person in question is able to make progress and work towards achieving their goals.

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.

We will determine which professionals will be needed in order to gather information to ensure that all presenting needs are investigated. This may include:

  • Parents (or the young person themselves)
  • Your child’s early years setting, school or college
  • An educational psychologist
  • Health practitioners e.g. a speech and language therapist, a physiotherapist or a paediatrician
  • Social care staff

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 we will decide whether or not an EHC plan is necessary. This is done through a further panel process where a multi-agency panel reviews all the evidence gathered throughout the assessment and determines whether the advice indicates that an EHC plan is required to provide necessary provision to support your child.

If we decide that an EHC plan is not needed based on the evidence gathered, this decision will be communicated with you within 16 weeks of the date the request for an assessment was received. You will then be advised about disagreement resolution, mediation and your rights of appeal.

Week 16 to 20: Preparing an EHC plan

If we decide to proceed with an EHC plan, we will work closely with you and your child or young person to make sure the plan takes account of your views, wishes and feelings.

A draft of the EHC plan will be sent to you and to the young person if they are aged 16 years and over. The draft will not contain the name or type of school or other setting your child will attend.

You have 15 days in which to make comments, request 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 or the young person wants 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).

We 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, the nursery, school or setting 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 for children and young people aged 5 and above. For children under the age of 5, the EHC plan will be reviewed on a six monthly basis.

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 assessment 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.