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 local authority criteria for an EHCP.

Find out the timeline on our EHCP flowchart.

Page contents:

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

Requests for an EHC needs assessment are made when you, your child’s education setting and other professionals involved have agreed that your child’s needs are not being met at the SEN support stage.

Who can ask for an EHC needs assessment 

If your education setting agrees that it is unable to meet your child’s needs, they will work with you and the setting will request an EHC needs assessment.

A professional can request an EHC needs assessment on behalf of an education setting. Where possible, 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 the following forms under the download link and include all evidence of support given to your child.  This will help the panel to make an informed decision.

All requests for assessments go through the Access and Response team (ART)  

  • EHC needs assessment for schools/professionals request form                                

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: accessandresponse@southglos.gov.uk 

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 beings 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 or not to start an assessment.

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 0-25 SEND panel’s decision within 6 weeks of submitting your request for an EHC needs assessment, whether it has been agreed to carry out an assessment or not.

Decision is made to complete 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 and any medical reports from health services.  Social care will contact you to conduct an optional screening of your child’s needs within this area.  Information will also be requested from your child’s education setting.  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. 

The panel will decide whether or not to draft an EHCP based on the evidence obtained through the needs assessment.  

If the 0-25 SEND 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 0-25 SEND 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

After an assessment, the decision is made not to draft an EHCP

If the 0-25 SEND 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.    

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.   


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