What happens during a needs assessment

Once you have requested a education health and care (EHC) needs assessment the 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.

The information gathered may help the setting to meet a child or young person’s needs without an EHC plan.

Stages of the assessment process

Weeks 0 to 6

The request for an EHC needs assessment can be made by:

  • a school or education setting
  • a professional
  • by you or your child if they are age 16 or over.

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 for your child as they get older.

You will need to send us any relevant information you might have about your child’s special educational needs, for example, reports from doctors or speech and language therapists.

We gather initial information and evidence from your child’s school or setting, the Educational Psychology Service, health providers and social care.

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.

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.

Weeks 6 to 16

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 and your child
  • your child’s school or setting
  • health practitioners, for example speech and language therapists, doctors who may be working with your child, social care practitioners, an educational psychologist and any other person we think is appropriate.

We will ask if there is anybody else you want us to contact, for example someone who is working with your child and who may be able to give us information about their needs and the support they require.

Sometimes a service may want to carry out a new assessment on your child, for example a speech and language therapist may want to find out more about how your child communicates and if they have any specific difficulties with communicating. If a service wants to carry out a new assessment on your child, they will talk to you directly about this.

An EHC needs assessment does not automatically mean that your child will have a full assessment by an educational psychologist or health practitioner. It will depend on if services are already working with you and your child and the amount of information they already have.

The people we ask for information have 6 weeks to respond. Your assessment and placement officer will keep you informed of the progress of your child’s assessment.

By week 16

We will contact you with our decision, either:

If we don’t issue a plan

If we decide it is not necessary to issue an EHC plan, we will give you written feedback to explain the reasons for our decision. We will always send you the information we have received during the assessment, so you can share this with the school or setting so they can review the support they have in place to help your child.

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

If we decide to draft a plan

We will ask you for your views about the draft plan and if you think we need to change the draft plan in any way. We will work closely with you during this time.

You will also be asked to tell us which school or setting you would like your child to attend. We will send the plan to them to ask if they can meet your child’s needs and provide the support outlined in the plan. They have 15 days to reply, called the consultation period.

Week 20

We will issue the final EHC plan by week 20, or sooner if possible.

We work hard to make sure everybody is happy with the final EHC plan. However there may be things in the plan you are not happy with, for example if you feel that your child’s needs or the provision needed to meet their needs is not adequately reflected, or are unhappy with the school or setting named.

If this is the case, even though we have issued the final version, you still have the right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.