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Requesting an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment

In most cases the request for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessment will come from a school or education setting.  However, requests do not have to come from a school or education setting and can be made by:

  1. The child's parents (or somebody on their behalf)
  2. The young person if over the age of 16 (or somebody on their behalf)
  3. A person acting on behalf of an early years setting, school or post 16 institution (this should be with the knowledge and agreement of the parent or young person where possible.

In addition, anyone can inform the local authority about a child or young person who has (or may have) SEND. This could include, for example, foster carers, health and social care professionals, early years practitioners, youth offending teams or probation services, those responsible for education in custody, school or college staff or a family friend. Again, this should be done with the knowledge and agreement of parents or the young person where possible.

Usually, a request is made by a school or setting by completing an EHC referral form (attached on the right).  This will give information and evidence that has been gathered through the graduated response ‘assess, plan, do review’ and what action has been taken to support the child or young person within SEN Support and taking into account Sunderland’s guidance to schools.  A key focus should be on the views and wishes of the child/young person and their family.

If a parent or young person wishes to make a request for an EHC assessment they need to make their request in writing giving as much information as possible and any reports they have about their child’s special educational needs (SEN). Referrals should be sent to Alison Armstrong, SEN Team, Stanfield Business Centre, Addison Street, Sunderland SR2 8SZ.    

On receipt the Local Authority will write to the child/young person’s school or education setting and any other professionals the parents have identified as working with the child/young person to gather any additional information before making their decision.  They will also ask the parent and young person for their views and wishes. 

Does my child need an EHC plan to get help?

No.  Where a child/young person is identified as having SEN, schools or education settings should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place.  This is known as SEN Support and is funding given to schools and education settings to help them make this provision.   Education, Health and Care needs assessments still have a role in identifying the most complex needs and are necessary if a child is moving from a mainstream to a special school.     

Who can help me with this process?

The Sunderland Independent Advice and Support Service or the Independent Support Service can help you understand the process and can attend meetings and offer guidance during the assessment. 

What do the Local Authority need to consider when making a decision whether to carry out an EHC assessment?

Under Section 36 of the Children & Families Act 2014 they need to consider the following:

         a)   the child or young person has or may have special educational needs, and
         b)    it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan.

In accordance with the SEND Code of Practice 2014, statutory guidance about the assessment, they need to consider whether there is evidence that despite the relevant and purposeful action being taken the child or young person has not made expected progress.  They need to take into account a wide range of evidence and pay particular attention to:

  • evidence of the child or young person’s academic attainment (or developmental milestones in younger children) and their rate of progress
  • information about the nature, extent and context of the child or young person’s SEN 
  • evidence of action already taken to the meet the child or young person’s SEN
  • evidence of where progress has been made, it has only been as the result of much additional intervention and support over and above that which is usually provided within SEN Support 
  • evidence of the child or young person’s physical, emotional and social development and health needs, drawing on evidence from clinicians and other health professionals and what has been done to meet these by other agencies
  • where a young person is aged over 18, they must consider whether the young person requires additional time, in comparison to the majority of others who do not have special educational needs to complete their education or training.

What happens if the Local Authority decides not to carry out an EHC assessment or issuing an EHC plan is not necessary?

If a decision is made not to carry out an assessment or following an assessment, the Local Authority decides that an EHC plan is not necessary, it must inform the parents or young person, the early years provider, school or post 16 institution currently attended and the health service, and give the reasons for its decision.

If the decision is made not to carry out an assessment parents must be informed within 6 weeks of the initial request.

If following the assessment, the decision is not to issue a plan this must take place within 16 weeks of the initial request or of the child or young person having been brought to the Authority's attention.

The Local Authority must also tell the parents or young person that they have the right to appeal to the SEND Tribunal against the decision and set out the time limits for appeal, and the availability of parent partnership and disagreement resolution services.

In these circumstances it is likely that the information gathered during the assessment will have indicated ways in which the school, college or other provider can meet the child or young person's needs from within available resources through an early years, school or college based support plan.

What if you disagree with the Local Authority's decision?

You have the right to challenge the decision made by the Local Authority on:

  • not proceeding with an EHC needs assessment
  • not producing an EHC plan, or
  • the special educational needs support included in the plan

More information about how you can challenge these decisions can be found on the Disagreement Resolution, Mediation and Tribunal Services page.

Please note: In Sunderland, Together for Children carry out the statutory duties on behalf of Sunderland City Council with regard to SEND. 

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