EHC needs assessment – what happens and when

Deciding whether to carry out an assessment (within six weeks)

Once a local authority receives a request for an assessment (from yourself or another practitioner), they have up to six weeks to decide whether to carry out an EHC needs assessment.

During that time, they will ask you and others – such as your child’s school or other setting – for information to help them make that decision.   If you are making the request, you may wish to gather together all the reports and letters from your child’s school or other setting, doctors’ and any other assessments that have been produced about your child, including their One Plan.

Deciding not to proceed with an assessment

 The local authority will give you feedback if they decide not to proceed with an assessment. You will also be told about your right of appeal to tribunal if you do not agree. Read more on mediation and appeals.

 Deciding to proceed with an assessment

 If the local authority decides to proceed the EHC needs assessment, they will gather more advice and information.  Section 19 of the Children and Families Act says that you and your child must be fully involved in the EHC needs assessment process.

They will also gather information and views from people who work with your child.  See the SEND Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years, Chapter 9.49 for the full list of who must be consulted.

Deciding whether an EHC plan is needed

After your local authority has completed the EHC needs assessment, it will then decide whether or not to issue an EHC plan. If an EHC plan is not needed, the LA must tell you why within 16 weeks of the date they received a request for an assessment.

If you do not agree with the decision, mediation can be used to resolve disagreements. Read more on mediation and appeals.

Preparing a draft EHC plan (by week 16)

If your local authority decides to proceed with an EHC plan, they must work with you and your child to make sure the plan takes full account of your views, wishes and feelings. These views will be gathered at an outcomes meeting involving many of the professionals involved in your child’s life.

Once the plan has been written, a draft will be sent to you.  At this point the draft plan will not contain the name of the school or other setting your child will attend.

Consultation with parents

You will be given 15 days to comment on the draft and you can ask for a meeting to discuss it if you want one. At that 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.

Consultation with the named setting

The local authority will then consult with the school or setting that you have named to discuss whether it is suitable.  IPSEA have more information on choosing a school or setting with an EHC plan.

Issuing a final plan (week 20)

Your local authority has 20 weeks from the request for the EHC needs assessment to issue the final plan to you.

Once an EHC plan has been finalised, your local authority has to make sure that the special educational support in section F of the plan is provided, and the health service has to ensure the health support in section G is provided. The local authority also has a legal duty to provide the provision in Section H1 and Section H2.

If you disagree with the content in the final EHC plan, including the educational placement, you have the right to appeal. Read more on mediation and tribunal appeals.

Reviewing the plan

Your local authority must review your child’s EHC plan at least every 12 months. That review is called an Annual Review.  It has to include working with you and your child and asking you what you think and what you want to happen, and a meeting which you must be invited to.

Support and advice 

The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) provides free and impartial information, advice and support about education, health and social care for children, young people and their parents on matters relating to special educational needs and disability. Contact information can be found on the SENDIASS Essex Local Offer page.