Education, health and care needs assessment (EHCna)
To obtain an education, health and care plan (EHCP) your child will first need to have an education, health and care needs assessment (EHCna) to decide if they meet the criteria for an EHCP.
Find out the timeline on our EHCP flowchart.
- What is an EHC needs assessment
- How long the EHC needs assessment takes
- Who can ask for an EHC needs assessment
- How to apply for an EHC needs assessment
- What happens once an EHC needs assessment has been applied for
- Decision is made to complete an EHC needs assessment
- Decision is made not to do an EHC needs assessment
- After assessment decision is made not to draft an EHCP
- Further information on EHC needs assessment
What is an EHC needs assessment
An EHC needs assessment is a coordinated assessment and planning process if your child is aged 0-25 years and
- has special educational needs
- will need additional support over and above the usual support arrangements available at their early years setting, school or college
The local authority education, health and care plan coordination team (EHCP coordination team) has responsibility for this legal (statutory) process, which is governed by law.
They would expect to carry out a needs assessment for children who:
- have not responded to consistent use of strategies and approaches that have been used as part of a graduated approach in school, including those suggested by external professionals
- require special educational provision which cannot be provided within the resources normally available to mainstream schools and settings - Special educational provision is provision that is different from or additional to that normally available to pupils or students of the same age, which is designed to help children and young people with SEN or disabilities to access the national curriculum at school or to study at college
Normally decisions to make a request for an EHC needs assessment are made at the regular SEN support review meetings.
A referral for an EHCna would not be appropriate where the area of concern is non-attendance, where English is not the first language, where there are medical needs or the child has been excluded but has no SEN. These additional needs should be met by educational settings and education, health, and care services.
How long the EHC needs assessment takes
The process takes 20 weeks from when you first apply for an assessment to the final plan being produced. There are certain exceptions when the assessment may go over the 20-week timescale, for example during summer holidays. The 0-25 education team will make you aware if this may happen.
Our EHCP timeline flow chart shows the different stages of the process and how long you can expect them to take.
Who can ask for an EHC needs assessment
If the educational setting is concerned that your child is not making the progress expected despite all of the additional resources and interventions put in place, they may request an EHC needs assessment.
Other professionals can also request an EHC needs assessment such as social workers and health practitioners. This should be made with your knowledge and agreement.
As a parent, you also have the right to make a direct request for an assessment to the local authority, as can your child from the end of the school year in which they turn 16 years old. It is recommended that you talk to your child’s education setting before asking for an EHC needs assessment, as they should provide essential evidence to support your request.
Working together with the educational setting and other professionals will ensure that your child remains at the centre of decisions about their special educational needs and provision.
How to apply for an EHC needs assessment
To request an EHC needs assessment (EHCna) for your child, you can download and complete a “request to assess” form. All forms are available in section 6 of the Inclusion Toolkit.
This will help the panel to make an informed decision.
All requests for assessments go through the Access and Response team (ART).
Send your completed form, with signed consent and supporting documentation to:
Access and Response Team
PO Box 1955
Bristol BS37 0DE
If you complete the form electronically, you can email it to the Access and Response team. If you want to send it by secure email you should telephone the Access and Response team for details of how to do this.
Tel: 01454 866000
Email address: email@example.com
What happens once an EHC needs assessment has been applied for
Once the council has received the request for an EHC needs assessment, this will be logged by the Access and Response team and given to the EHCP Coordination team to process. The 6-week timescale begins as soon as the request has been received by the council.
The request for an assessment will be considered by the 0-25 SEND panel. This consists of various senior professionals across education, health and care who decide whether a needs assessment is necessary
The panel will expect education settings to have implemented any actions and interventions that have been identified for your child at the SEN support stage. They will also want to see evidence that the settings have monitored the impact of these interventions.
You will find out the SEND panel’s decision within 6 weeks of submitting the request for an EHC needs assessment, whether it has been agreed to carry out an assessment or not.
Decision is made to carry out an EHC needs assessment
The EHCP case coordinator will have 6 weeks to gather information about your child from a number of professionals linked to them. They ask for reports from agencies such as educational psychologists, the educational settings, education support services, social care and any medical reports from health services. They will also seek advice from you and your child, and anyone else you want to seek advice from who is involved with your child.
Your child may not be currently open to either health or social care services. If this is the case you will be contacted by a Specialist Health Advisor for SEND from Sirona Care and Health and Social Care who will contact you to carry out an optional screening of your child’s needs within this area.
The panel will decide whether or not to draft an EHCP based on the evidence obtained through the needs assessment.
If the panel agrees to draft an EHCP, you can read about the next steps on what an EHCP contains.
Decision is made not to undertake an EHC needs assessment
If the panel decides not to assess your child’s needs, you and your child (if over 16 years of age) will receive a letter. The letter will give the reason the panel did not agree to the assessment, details of independent advice and support available and your right to appeal the decision to a Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST), as well as arrangements for mediation service. If you are not happy with the decision and want further advice on mediation or appealing the decision, see deciding to appeal and mediation.
Your child will continue to receive support from the educational setting through SEN Support.
After an assessment, the decision is made not to draft an EHCP
If the panel decides to assess your child’s need, but after the assessment decides not to draft an EHCP, you will receive a letter explaining the reason the panel did not agree to draft the EHCP.
You and your child (if over 16 years of age) will receive a letter. The letter will give the reason the panel did not agree to draft an EHCP, details of independent advice and support you can use. It will also explain your right to appeal their decision to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) and arrangements for mediation service. If you are not happy with the decision and want further advice on mediation or appealing the decision, see deciding to appeal and mediation.
If the decision is that an EHCP is not needed your child will continue to receive support from the educational setting through the SEN support stage. All the reports and assessments carried out will assist settings to review their support.
Further information on the EHC needs assessment
Supportive Parents provide the information, advice and support service (SENDIASS) for children, young people and families in South Gloucestershire.
IPSEA is the Independent Provider of Special Education Advice, explain on their website about what to expect during the EHCP assessment process.
South Glos Parents and Carers who run the local parent carer forum in South Gloucestershire collect feedback through surveys about the EHCP assessment process.