What happens during an education, health and care needs assessment

The education health and care needs assessment (EHCNA) process can take up to 20 weeks.

An assessment does not always lead to an education, health and care (EHC) plan. However, it will provide more information about your child's needs and the support needed to meet their needs.

If you are moving into Kent with an EHC plan follow this guidance.

Who can request an EHCNA

We ask that your education setting completes the request on your behalf. This is because of the evidence we need to support the needs assessment request.

However, if you wish to request a needs assessment yourself, you can still do so without talking to the education setting.

The assessment process

The EHC assessment process splits into 3 time periods within 16 weeks of the request.

Before you request an EHCNA, read the following information to understand the process. Or download a summarised version of the process (PDF, 94.3 KB).

During the first 6 weeks we'll contact you to tell you the name of your assessment officer. We will also:

  • ask you to complete a form with your views about your child's needs, including:
    • what is working and what isn't
    • your hopes and aspirations for them.
  • inform you whether we believe an EHCNA is necessary and set out the next steps.

The decision process

We must make a decision whether an EHCNA is necessary. We will contact with you within 6 weeks to confirm our decision. The SEND code of practice 2015 (page 154 - section 9) outlines this.

We will notify:

  • you (the parent) or the young person
  • the health and social service
  • your child's education setting.

During this time, we will take into account a wide range of evidence.

The decision outcome

If we agree to start the process of an EHCNA, this will be approximately 6 weeks after you made your request. Within a week of our decision to start the process, a Health Co-ordinator (HCO) may contact you.

A HCO will contact you if your child:

  • has an immediate relative serving, or has previously served, in the armed forces
  • is assigned under the Community Healthcare team (CHC)
  • is open to Portage
  • is receiving specialist input from London hospitals (such as Evelina)
  • is educated at home
  • is a Looked After Child (LAC)
  • is 19 to 25 years old.

If you do not agree with our decision you have the right of appeal.

We will ask for advice and information about:

  • your child's needs
  • the support required to meet their needs
  • the outcomes they should be working towards.

We will get this from:

  • you (the parent) or young person (aged 16 to 25)
  • the education setting
  • health care professionals working or supporting your child
  • an educational psychologist
  • social care
  • youth offending team if a young person is detained
  • any person requested by you or young person where we agree that it is reasonable to do so

This advice and information must be provided within 6 weeks of us requesting it.

A Health Co-ordinator may contact you to discuss your child's health history. This discussion helps us to seek advice from the relevant health professionals that understand your child's needs.

Agree to move forward

If we decide to issue an education, health and care (EHC) plan, we will let you and others know.

We will allow enough time to prepare the draft plan and issue the final plan within the 20 week time limit.

Decline the request

If we decide not to issue an EHC plan, we will tell you why. We will notify the young person, the education setting they attend, and the health service.

If you disagree with our decision you have the right to appeal.

At each stage, our teams and partners will contact you. They want to gather as much information as possible about your child.

Find out who will be in contact with you and what they do.

Information needed for an EHCNA

To request an EHC needs assessment, you or your school must gather detailed info about your child. The form is quite long, and can take some time to complete. You do have the option to save and come back to it when you need to.

We will need:

  • your name, address and contact details
  • your child's:
    • name, address, date of birth, pronouns, religion and ethnicity
    • early years setting, school, college or sixth form name and address
  • to know if you or your child needs an interpreter
  • to understand what:
    • is working and what is not working for your child
    • extra support they need.
  • information about your child's:
    • behaviour and emotions
    • health needs
    • social care needs
    • likes and dislikes.

We value the views and opinions of children, young people, and their families. These are important to us, as our transition charter and co-production charter explain.

Evidence of any:

  • actions taken to meet your child's special educational needs. This includes evidence of involvement from an outside agency professionals. As well as any educational psychologists and specialist teachers
  • circumstances where the education setting has not been able to follow the graduated approach cycles of ‘assess, plan, do, review
  • meetings they have had with you
  • physical, emotional, health and social impacts on your child's education and learning
  • reasonable adjustments put in place to help your child to access the curriculum and the physical environment
  • strategies or interventions that have been implemented, and given time to work and be evaluated
  • involvement from the Local Inclusion Forum Team (LIFT).

Reports of your child's:

  • attendance
  • progress in reading, writing, communication and numeracy, as a result of the extra support
  • learning difficulties when using their home language, if English is not their first or main language.

We may need additional information about:

  • any social care support your child is receiving
  • evidence of actions already taken to meet your child's special educational needs. This will include evidence of involvement from an outside agency professionals, including:
    • speech and language therapists
    • occupational therapists
    • physiotherapists
    • medical professionals.
  • names of doctors who diagnosed any conditions and the year of diagnosis.

When taking into consideration whether an EHCNA is necessary, we will look at the evidence provided in the request.

We will also consider whether the education setting has provided enough evidence that they have:

  • been given clear information about how the SEN budget will be used to support your child's needs
  • confirmed whether your child's needs are greater than the funding delegated to them
  • despite the delegated funding and support given, your child has not made adequate progress
  • reviewed your child's progress over time
  • asked for advice from external professionals and responded by developing support maps.

If the young person is over 18, we must consider whether they need more time compared to others of their age. We must check whether they can complete education training to help them prepare for adulthood.

The four criteria questions we use to decide whether to assess follow the criteria from paragraph 9.14 of the SEND Code of Practice 2015.

Criteria question 1

Is the child or young person's academic performance (or developmental milestones) below the expected range when looked at against peers born in the same school term as them?

Criteria question 2

Has the child or young person either:

  • not made the expected progress, or
  • only made the expected progress as a result of much additional intervention and support over and above that which can usually be provided outside of an education, health and care (EHC) plan?

Criteria question 3

Are we (the local authority) of the opinion that the child has or may have special educational needs which may require the support of an EHC plan?

Criteria question 4

Has the education setting taken relevant action to identify, assess and meet the child's special educational needs, including making full use of its set funds and additional spending above this level?

The decision

If the answer to all four questions is yes, we will assess your EHCNA.

If any of the above criteria are not met, we will ask whether there is evidence of other circumstances which means your child should be assessed.

We would usually only assess if there are special circumstances that justify this.

The criteria questions we use to decide whether to issue an education, health and care (EHC) plan clearly follow the criteria from paragraph 9.54 to 9.56 of the SEND Code of Practice 2015:

Criteria question 1

Has the EHCNA confirmed the information available on the nature and extent of the child or young person’s special educational needs before the EHCNA and was the special educational provision made before the EHC needs assessment well matched to these needs?

If the answer is "yes", we move on to criteria question 2.

If the answer is "no",  we then ask:

Are there circumstances which mean the education setting could not have been expected to have done this, for example:

  • the circumstances have changed significantly or,
  • the child or young person has only recently been placed in the setting or,
  • their special educational needs were only identified shortly before the EHC needs assessment.

If the answer is "yes", we move on to criteria question 2.

If the answer is "no", the education setting should take relevant action to identify, assess and meet the child or young person’s special educational needs. This includes making full use of its set funds and additional spending above this level.

Until this happens it will not be possible to judge whether an EHC plan may be required.  A request for a future EHC needs assessment will not be considered for at least 6 months, except in exceptional circumstances.

Criteria question 2

Is the provision required to meet the child ’s special educational needs 'over and above' what can reasonably be provided from within the resources normally available to mainstream early years providers, schools and post-16 settings?

The decision

If the answer is "yes" to question 2, we will issue an EHC plan.

If the answer is "no" to question 2, we will not issue an EHC plan.

Unless there are exceptional circumstances which would require us to make special educational provision in accordance with an EHC plan.

Where the criteria are met and we intend to proceed with an assessment or issuing an EHC plan these decisions will generally be checked an approved by an Assessment Team Manager.

Where the criteria are not met the decision will be made within a panel. These panels are made up of a range of professionals to ensure that the criteria have been properly applied and that any special circumstances for the child have been taken into account.

Request an education, health and care needs assessment (EHCNA)

To request an EHCNA, you need to create an account (unless you already have one).

By creating an account, you can save your request and come back to it later if you need to. To set up your account you must:

  • give an email address
  • create a password
  • verify your account by clicking a link sent to your inbox.

If you need support completing your request contact:

Request an EHC needs assessment

EHC needs re-assessment

A review of your child's EHC plan every year is a good way to check their progress but sometimes that will not be enough. If your child’s educational or health needs, or situation, change a lot they may need to have a statutory reassessment of their needs. This means having a new EHC needs assessment.

We may carry out a reassessment if you, your young person aged 16 to 25, or their education setting ask for one, as long as:

  • it has been more than 6 months since the last EHC needs assessment was done
  • we decide or agree a further EHC needs assessment is needed.

We may also carry out a reassessment at any other time if we think it is necessary.

When you ask us for a reassessment, we must tell you if we will reassess or not within 15 calendar days. If we decide not to reassess, you have the right to appeal that decision and to go to mediation or tribunal.

The process for a reassessment is the same as for an EHC needs assessment. The law says a reassessment must take at most 14 weeks. The 14 weeks start when the decision to reassess is made and ends when a final EHC plan is issued.