Call our free helpline0808 808 3555
Call our free helpline
0808 808 3555
Some children and young people with special educational needs
may need more support than a mainstream education setting (schools,
colleges, nurseries) can offer. These children may have to receive
an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment to work out
how much help they need.
An EHC needs assessment is the first step to getting an Education, Health
and Care (EHC) plan. It is a legal process carried out by the
local authority. It isn't to be confused with other assessments
that teachers, your GP or other professionals may arrange for your
The local authority must carry out an EHC needs assessment if
they believe your child's special educational needs may require
more help than a mainstream education
setting can normally provide.
For example, your child may need a lot of adult support for most
or all of the school day. They might need a large amount of help
from specialist services, such as speech therapy. Your child may
need to go to a special school where staff have the training and
expertise to support their learning.
The following people can make a formal request for an EHC needs
If you are making the request yourself, you might find our request letter template useful.
The local authority will want to see evidence that your child
needs more support for their special educational needs than a
mainstream education setting can normally provide.
You should explain your child's difficulties, describe any extra
support your child has already received and say why you feel your
child needs more help. Our parent advisers have made
a checklist that may help you think about what to say.
The local authority must tell you in writing within six weeks
whether or not they are going to assess your child. See below for
what to do if the local authority refuses to assess your child.
The local authority gathers information about your child's needs
Advice and information requested by the local authority should
be provided within six weeks.
The local authority does not have to seek further information
from professionals if this has been provided recently. However, any
existing reports should meet the requirements of the assessment
process. They must have detailed information about your child's
needs, the support or provision they require, and the expected
outcomes (how the support will make a difference to your
The local authority must help your family, including your child,
to take part in the process. They must provide you with any
information, advice and support you need to do this.
If you have already provided information about your child as
part of your request, you don't need to repeat this, but you can
send in new information if you want to. You can send in other
reports if you have them, for example a report from an independent
professional. You can also ask the local authority to seek
information about your child from someone who has not been
contacted before. For example, you may want to ask if a speech and
language therapist can assess your child.
The local authority will gather information about your child's
social care needs as part of the EHC needs assessment. If your
family is not already getting support from children's services, you
can ask your local authority to do a separate assessment to decide
if you or your child need support at home or in the community For
more information see our webpages on social care.
Once the assessment has been carried out, the local authority
must decide whether to issue an EHC plan. See below for what to do
if the local authority refuses to give your child an EHC plan.
An EHC plan is a legal document that describes a child's or
young person's special educational, health and social care needs.
Find out more about EHC plans.
At first you'll receive a draft EHC plan, and you have 15 days
to put forward your views to the local authority about the contents
of the plan. You can ask to meet with them and other people who
gave advice as part of the EHC needs assessment process. This is
your chance to ask questions if anything is unclear, check that the
plan describes your child's needs accurately, or to say if you
think anything in the plan should be changed.
You can say which school, college, or other educational
institution you would like your child to go to. The local authority
must tell you how to find out about schools and colleges. They must
also consult the institution before naming it in the final EHC
plan. You can also ask for a personal
The final plan must be issued within a maximum of 20 weeks of
the initial request.
The local authority can refuse if they don't think your child
needs an assessment. They may feel that there is not enough
evidence that your child's difficulties are severe enough. Or they
may decide that a mainstream education setting can provide all the
support your child needs.
If your child has been refused an EHC needs assessment, you can
appeal this decision to an independent tribunal within two months
of the date on your decision letter, or one month from the date of
the mediation certificate - whichever is later.
Contact our helpline on 0808 808 3555 or post us a query on Facebook for further advice.
An EHC needs assessment does not always lead to a child or young
person receiving an EHC plan. For example, the local authority
might decide that the child's or young person's needs can be met by
the school in other ways.
If the local authority are not going to make a plan, they must
write to you within 16 weeks to tell you this. You will have the
right to appeal, and the local authority must give you information
If you live in Wales, read our information about the
We also support Northern Ireland and Scotland. Give our helpline
a call on 0808 808 3555 for information and advice on any aspect of
raising a disabled child, or call your local contact. Find out our
local office details in the In your area
Any questions about support at school? How to get an EHC plan?
What kind of school is best for my child? Call our freephone helpline on 0808 808 3555 and talk
to one of our education advisers.