What happens during a education, health and care needs assessment

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The education health and care (EHC) needs assessment process can take up to 20 weeks. An assessment does not always lead to an EHC plan but will provide more information about your child’s needs and the support needed to meet their needs.

Who can request an EHC needs assessment

Your child or young person's education setting is best placed to request an EHC needs assessment as they are required to provide evidence to support it. However, you can request on behalf of your child or, you can request one for yourself if you are over the age of 16 but under the age of 25.

In addition, anyone else can bring a child or young person who has (or may have) SEN to the attention of the local authority, particularly where they think a needs assessment may be necessary.

Advice and support

If you need assistance before you request an EHC needs assessment or throughout the process, you can contact Information, Advice and Support Kent. They offer confidential and impartial advice and support to families in Kent.

Download a guide created by IASK (PDF, 409.0 KB) explaining what an EHC needs assessment is.

The EHC needs assessment process

Please read through the following before requesting an EHC needs assessment. Or download a summarised process map (PDF, 63.6 KB) outlining the stages of the assessment process.

Throughout the stages, you will be contacted by a number of our teams and partners to make sure we have as much information about your child as possible. Find out who will be in contact with you and what they do.

Within 6 weeks of the request

We will tell you the name of your assessment and placement officer and ask you to complete a form with your views about your child’s needs, what is working well for them and what needs to be better. We will ask you about your hopes and aspirations for your child as they get older.

Following a request for an EHC needs assessment, we must decide whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary. We must make a decision and communicate this to the child’s parent or to the young person within 6 weeks of receiving the request.

When we are considering whether an EHC needs assessment is needed we will notify:

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

We should consider if the education setting has taken appropriate action to identify, assess and meet the special educational needs of your child or young person, and if they have not made expected progress. We will need to take into account a wide range of evidence including:

  • evidence of your child or young person’s academic attainment (or developmental milestones in younger children) and rate of progress
  • information about your child's SEN
  • evidence of action already taken by your child's education setting
  • evidence that where progress has been made, it has only been as the result of much additional intervention and support over and above that which is usually provided
  • evidence of your child or young person’s physical, emotional and social development and health needs
  • where a young person is aged over 18, we must consider whether the young person requires additional time, in comparison to the majority of others of the same age who do not have special educational needs. Whether they can complete their education training, if it will help them to achieve their education training outcomes, building on what they have learnt before and preparing them for adulthood.

We will use this information to decide if we will carry out an EHC needs assessment and tell you our decision within 6 weeks of receiving the request. For more information read the SEND code of practice 2015 (page 154 - section 9)

If you don’t agree with our decision you have the right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

If we decide to carry out a needs assessment, we will move onto the next stages.

If we agree to start the process of a EHC needs assessment approximately 6 weeks after your request, a Health Co-ordinator (HCO) will then contact you directly within a week of this decision to make sure that your child or young person's health needs are met.

Within 16 weeks of the request

We will ask for advice and information about your child’s needs, the provision required to meet their needs and 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 the child or young person
  • an educational psychologist
  • social care
  • youth offending team if a young person is attained
  • any person requested by you or young person where we agree that it is reasonable to do so
  • any other advice and information that we may consider appropriate.

This advice and information must be provided within 6 weeks of us requesting it and more quickly wherever possible.

During the 16 weeks of the request, 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.

By 16 weeks of the request

If we decide to issue an EHC plan, we will notify you and young person and other parties, who were notified of our decision to consider whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary. We will allow enough time to prepare the draft plan and issue the final plan within the 20 week time limit.

If we decide not to issue an EHC plan, we will notify you, the young person, the education setting they attend and the health service giving the reason for our decision.

If you disagree with our decision you have the right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

Request an EHC needs assessment

Your child or young person's school is best placed to request an EHC needs assessment as they are required to provide evidence to support it.

However, you can request an EHC needs assessment on behalf of your child or, you can request one for yourself if you are over the age of 16 but under the age of 25.

If you need support completing your request, you can contact your SENCO or Information, Advice and Support Kent who offer confidential and impartial advice and support to families in Kent.

Request an EHC needs assessment

Needs assessment and plan updates

Read the latest update for EHC needs assessment and plans (PDF, 91.5 KB) from Mark Walker, Director of Special Educational Needs, Disabled Children and Young People.