Frequently Asked Questions about Education, Health and Care Needs Requests/Assessments/Plans

UPDATED: 1st June 2020

What is an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan)

      An EHC Plan describes your child’s special educational needs (SEN), and the help they will get to meet them. An EHC plan also includes any health and care provision that is needed. It is a legal document written by the local authority and is intended to ensure that children and young people with an EHC plan receive the support they need.

      EHC plans replaced Statements of Special Educational Need and Section 139 Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDA) on 1 September 2014. All existing statements of Special Educational Needs prior to 1st September 2014 will be transferred to EHCPs by 1st April 2018.

      EHC plans are for children and young people who need more support than their school or other setting can provide. The plans can start from a child’s birth and continue into further education and training.

      The SEND Code of Practice says:

      The purpose of an EHC plan is to make special educational provision to meet the special educational needs of the child or young person, to secure the best possible outcomes for them across education, health and social care and, as they get older, prepare them for adulthood. (9.2)

Who needs an EHC plan?

      EHC plans are for children and young people who have a special educational need or disability that cannot be met by the support that is available at their early years, school or college.

      Most children and young people with special educational needs will have help given to them without the need for an EHC Plan. This is called SEN support.

      The purpose of SEN support is to help children achieve the outcomes or learning objectives that have been set for them.

      Some children and young people may not make the expected progress even with this help. When this happens, the Local

      Authority should carry out an EHC needs assessment. A few children and young people have such significant needs that an EHC needs assessment should not be delayed.

      You or your child’s school can ask the local authority to make an EHC needs assessment. When this assessment is finished the local authority must decide whether to issue an EHC plan.

      The SEND Code of Practice says:

      In considering whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary, the local authority should consider whether there is evidence that despite the early years provider, school or post-16 institution having taken relevant and purposeful action to identify, assess and meet the special educational needs of the child or young person, the child or young person has not made expected progress. (9.14)

I would like my child to have an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA), how do I get one?

      It is always a good idea to speak to your child’s school or early years setting about the support they are currently receiving, and to find out whether they are making expected progress.

      If the school feels that your child cannot be supported by the school’s resources at SEN support then they may decide to make a request for an EHCNA.

      A parent can apply in writing to the Local Authority (LA) or Apply online to request that they carry out a needs assessment for their child. If parents would like more information about the criteria and process, they could contact SENDIAS– the helpline number is:0330 222 8555.

      Parents can also find the information on the West Sussex Local Offer website. It is still a good idea to talk this through with the school first though, as they will need to submit evidence that the child is not significantly progressing at SEN support stage.

      * Please note: The team within the LA that makes these decisions as well as carrying out the Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) and putting the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) together is called the Special Educational Needs and Assessment Team (SENAT)

How long until I hear if the request for an EHCNA for my child has been successful?

      (A) The Local Authority has 6 weeks to decide whether to initiate an EHCNA or not. The decision will be communicated to you by letter and will be sent from the LA.

      If the request was refused, the letter will detail why this decision was made, and will explain your right of appeal. In West Sussex the LA also sets up a meeting (called a Inclusion Planning Meeting (IPM)) with the school to explain why the decision was made to not carry out an EHCNA. The parent(s) is/are also invited to this meeting.

      If you are confused as to what to do once you receive this letter then you can call SENDIAS for advice on 0330 222 8555.

What are my rights if the Local Authority refuses to assess my child or refuses to issue an EHC Plan after a Needs Assessment?

      If Local Authority refuses to assess at child by week 6, Parents have a right of appeal to the SENDIST Tribunal Service. Parents have 2 months from the date of letter with the Local Authority’s decision to lodge an appeal against the decision or 1 month from the date of the mediation certificate whichever is the later. Contact the SENDIAS for any support needed with this process (0330 222 8555).

      The Suffolk SENDIAS Service have produced a series of videos to help understand and complete the SEND Tribunal Appeal Form 35A which is used if a refusal to assess occurs.

What is the criteria for an Educational Health Care Needs Assessment?

      To meet the criteria for an EHCNA a child/young person would need to have educational needs which cannot normally be met under SEN Support, already available within early years settings/schools and colleges. All educational settings are expected to provide support under SEN Support and can refer to outside agencies for further support if needed. These agencies can include: Educational Psychology Service, Learning Inclusion Team, Social Communication Team, Physiotherapy and Occupational Service plus many others. The Local Authority have their own Criteria guidance which can be found on the LO. However, each child must be reviewed on his/her own individual circumstances.

    How long does the Educational Health Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) take?

        The Educational Health Care Needs Assessment must take no longer than 20 weeks (from the date the request is received).

        However, there are certain exemptions to this:

      • appointments with people from whom the local authority has requested information are missed by the child or young person (this only applies to the duty on partners to comply with a request under the EHC needs assessment process within six weeks)
      • the child or young person is absent from the area for a period of at least 4 weeks
      • exceptional personal circumstances affect the child or his/her parent, or the young person, and
      • the educational institution is closed for at least 4 weeks, which may delay the submission of information from the school or other institution (this does not apply to the duty on partners to comply with a request under the EHC needs assessment process within six weeks)

        If you need support once an assessment has been agreed, then the Independent Support service will be able to provide you with an Independent Supporter. To contact the IS service, please call:0300 123 7782. Alternatively SENDIASS can also provide this support.

      How do I get a personal budget or direct payment?

          At the Draft stage of the EHCP, you can ask the Local Authority to consider setting up a personal budget for educational provision for your child or young person or when the plan is being reviewed. The personal budget is the notional amount of money that would be needed to cover the cost of delivering the special educational provision identified in the EHC plan. You can also ask the LA to consider whether elements of the personal budget can be received as a direct payment.

          A head teacher or principal may disagree to a direct payment being made for special educational provision, if they are already delivering this provision in their school or college.

          There is no right of appeal if an LA decides not to agree to a personal budget, but you are able to ask them to review their decision.

        What if my child’s needs change once we receive the final?

            The EHC Plan must be reviewed within 12 months of it being issued (3-6 months if the child is under 5). The process for this is called an annual review. At the end of this review, a meeting should be held to discuss whether the needs and provision set out in the plan are still appropriate. Once the LA receive the paperwork from the review, there will be opportunity to appeal against any refusal to amend the plan (Sections B, F & I) if you do not agree with the LA’s decision.

            If you are concerned that your child’s needs have significantly changed and you are not due for an annual review, you can request an interim / Emergency review of the EHC Plan.

          What are my rights of appeal with regard to EHC Plans?
          Please see the 8 rights of appeal chart

          The Suffolk SENDIAS Service have produced a series of videos to help understand and complete the SEND Tribunal Appeal Form 35 which you can use to appeal a local authority’s decision about a child or young person.

          What do I do if I want my child to go to a special school (or a different school)?

              Except for exceptional circumstances, an EHC Plan is needed for a child or young person to attend a special school.

              Even then, the majority of children can be supported within a mainstream setting. When you receive your draft EHC Plan, you have the right to request a particular school, college or other institution of the following type, to be named in your child’s EHC Plan:

                • maintained nursery school
                • maintained school and any form of academy or free school (mainstream or special)
                • non-maintained special school
                • further education or sixth form college
                • independent school or independent specialist colleges (where they have been approved for this purpose by the Secretary of State and published in a list available to all parents and young people)

              For schools not on this list you may make ‘representations’ for a place but the Local Authority do not have to consider these in the same way.

            Support available

            If you need any further support then you may be able to get support from SEND Information, Advice and Support Service.

            SEND Information Advice and Support Service
            There are two young people advisers within the SEND Information, Advice and Support Service. They typically support young people from fourteen to twenty-five. They can support young people supporting them have their voice through their plan and to discuss options of study/training with young people.
            Available at any stage from the EHC Needs Assessment being agreed until the final plan is issued
            When there is unresolved disagreement between the LA and parent carer
            Concerns about whether provision of EHC Plan is being delivered in a school or college setting
            Annual Reviews of EHC Plans
            Find out more about SEND Information, Advice and Support Service

            An EHC needs assessment is a detailed look at a child/young person’s special educational needs (SEN) and the support he or she may need in order to learn. Local authorities are responsible for carrying out EHC needs assessments under the Children and Families Act 2014.

            Most children and young people in education are supported through their school or college’s different teaching methods and resources. A document called the 'Graduated Approach', gives early years settings, schools and colleges guidance as to what support the local authority would expect a child or young person, if necessary up to the age of 25, to receive through the learning setting’s own practical and financial resources so they have a positive journey through education and prepare successfully for adulthood.

            It is important to work with the Local Authority on this plan to ensure that the best outcomes are achieved for your child and family, or for yourself if you are a young person over the age of 16.

            Further information is available in the documents below:

          • Understanding Support for Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Leaflet
          • SENDIAS leaflet on EHC Needs Assessment
          • Read the Reaching Families & Amaze Factsheet

            Read guidance on applying for an Education, Health and Care plans for further information:

          • Guidance for settings
          • Guidance for parents

            The assessment is to see if your child needs an Education, Health and Care plan (EHC plan).

            Need Support?

            The SEND Information, Advice and Support Service and school SENCo or inclusion manager can support you applying for an EHC Needs Assessment.

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