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How to ask for an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

EHCPs are drawn up by the local authority after an EHC needs assessment.

If your child has special educational needs (SEN) that can't be met by the help available at their school or educational setting through quality first teaching and SEND support as outlined in the Graduated Response, you can ask for a needs assessment for an EHC plan. 

A needs assessment looks in detail at a child or young persons special educational needs and any support that may be needed for them to learn. It includes information from:  

  • the child or young person 
  • the child’s parents/carers 
  • the early years setting, school or college  
  • other health and care professionals who support and work with the child or young person  

We can be asked to carry out an EHC needs assessment if your child or young person:  

  • is in education (including early years education such as a day nursery)
  • is under 25   
  • has been getting extra support for their special educational needs, but isn’t making progress 

SENDiass have produced a guide to EHC Needs Assessment for children and young people. They also have guides for parents and carers

who can ask for an assessment?

  • you (the child’s parent or carer) or an advocate on their  behalf  
  • the young person themselves if they are aged between 16 and 25 (or an advocate on their behalf) 
  • anyone acting on behalf of your child or young person’s early years setting, school or college if they have the agreement of you or your young person.   

The following people can also tell the local authority if they feel a child or young person may need an assessment: 

  • a health professional supporting the child or young person, such as a doctor or a health visitor 
  • any other professional working to support the child or young person, including foster carers, social care professionals, youth justice teams, probation services or those responsible for education in custody, or a family friend. 

How to ask for an assessment

You can apply for an EHC Needs Assessment in whatever format you like, including by email to the SEND team on SENDbso@bcpcouncil.gov.uk . You could also use the SENDiass request form which can be found here .  

It is helpful to provide reports and letters from your child or young persons early years setting, school or college or Doctor and any other assessments that have been written about your child or young person.

You can also write about your child or young persons needs and how long they have had them. You can use the My Child, My Story form and the one page profile template in the downloads section or you can create a one-page template of your own. There are lots of examples online, including these from Sheffkids or Helen Sanderson Associates

Education settings should use the EHC Needs Assessment Request Form in the downloads section. 

Things to do before making an EHC needs assessment request 

1. read the SEN information report for your child's early years setting, school or post-16 provider. It will have information about what the setting offers and what to do if you are worried. Schools should have this information on their website. You can also look at the settings information on the Family Information Directory under the ‘SEND Local Offer’ tab.

Childcare on the Family Information Directory

Schools and Further Education on the Family Information Directory  

2.check that your child is receiving SEN Support and speak to the school if you do not think this is happening

3. check that your child’s setting is using the Graduated Response. This is commonly known as ‘assess, plan, do, review’. The setting should have been through at least two cycles of the process. Do you know what the outcomes are, and if they have been successful? The setting should also be trying new ways to support your child, with clear targets and outcomes

Early Years SEND Graduated Response Toolkit

School Age SEND Graduated Response Toolkit

Post 16 SEND Graduated Response Toolkit  

4. check that your child’s setting has evidence that they have used the graduated response for SEN Support. For example, is a SEND support plan in place and is it being reviewed and updated? If your child has seen an Educational Psychologist, is there a report with ideas for how your child can be supported?

5. make sure you have had regular meetings with your child’s key worker, SENCO or teacher

6. speak to SENDiass if you need more information, advice and support.

7. speak to the setting about your concerns and let them know you want to request a needs assessment. 

Parent carers please note:

Although you or your young person can request an EHC needs assessment, where possible it is better that an education setting makes the request. This is because:

  • they will have evidence of the SEN Support that has been put in place 
  • we need to check they have used the Graduated Response to SEN Support

The setting can provide this evidence, which will help us make an informed decision on whether we should carry out a needs assessment. 

What happens when we receive a request for an assessment?

When we receive a request for assessment we have six weeks to consider if an assessment is necessary.

To help with decision making, wherever possible, the case will be discussed with the SEND Panel  

When a decision is made we will tell:  

  • you  
  • your young person 
  • the health service (relevant Clinical Commissioning Group or NHS England) 
  • local authority social care services  
  • the education setting that your child or young person attends

What happens if we decide to go ahead with an assessment?

If we decide to go ahead with an assessment, we'll make sure you are included from the start and given opportunities to share your views and information. 

If we haven’t already been given information, we’ll ask you to write to us your child or young person's needs including any early years setting, school or college reports and an assessment from the medical professionals involved in your child or young person's care.  

Read about the EHC needs assessment process.

What happens if we feel an assessment is not needed?

If we decide not to carry out an assessment, we'll help you find other ways your child or young person can be supported in their early years setting, school or college.  

You and your child or young person will be given the opportunity to meet with us to talk about our decision. You have a right to appeal the decision and seek independent advice and we will give you information on how to do this. 

Further help and information

If you have questions about the EHC Needs Assessment process you can contact the BCP Council SEND Statutory Services Team at SENDbso@bcpcouncil.gov.uk or by phone on 01202 128880.

SENDiass can also provide information, advice and support.