We can provide you with information and practical advice about the Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment process, and about Education, Health and Care Plans.
This advice covers existing plans, as well as the assessment and review processes.
- Education, Health and Care Plans
- Education, Health and Care Needs Assessments
- Asking for an EHC Needs Assessment
- Applying for an EHC Needs Assessment
- EHCNA applications - supporting information
- EHCNA applications for children over 16
- The EHCNA process
- Re-assessment of needs
Education, Health and Care Plans
An Education Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) can only be issued after a child or young person has gone through the process of an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA).
An EHC Plan is a legal document written by a local authority to describe a child or young person’s SEN, the support they need, and the outcomes they would like to achieve.
The special educational provision described in an EHC Plan must be provided by the child or young person’s local authority. This means an EHC Plan can give a child or young person extra educational support. It can also give parents and young people more choice about which school or other setting the child or young person can attend.
The Council for Disabled Children (CDC) have produced a helpful video: What is an Education, Health and Social Care (EHC) plan.
Education, Health and Care Needs Assessments
An EHCNA is a full investigation of the education, health and social care needs of a child or young person. It is the first step towards getting an EHC Plan written for the child or young person, but it is not guaranteed that an EHCNA will always lead to an EHC Plan being agreed.
An EHC Plan can result in additional support and funding for a child or young person with special educational needs (SEN).
The arrangement of an EHCNA and EHC Plan is a legal process under the Children and Families Act 2014, and is carried out by the local authority where a child lives. The process can take up to 20 weeks and can be applied for at any time.
Guidance on EHCNAs is set out in the SEND Code of Practice (Chapter 9).
The EHCNA brings together information about:
- what your child can and cannot do
- the special help they need
It includes information from:
- your child or young person
- the nursery, school or college
- other professionals who work with or support your child or young person
A child or young person (aged between 0 and 25) will usually have an EHC Plan if they need more help, or a different kind of help than a mainstream nursery, school or college or can normally provide.
Your child’s nursery, school or college may already be giving your child help without an EHC Plan. This is called SEN support. This means that the nursery, school or college makes additional or different provision from that provided to most other pupils to meet their needs and help then to learn. Sometimes other professionals will give advice or support to help your child learn.
If you're concerned that your child is not making expected progress, despite already having some SEN support in place at school, or if you feel that not enough is known about your child's SEND and what support they might need, then it might be time to consider asking for an EHCNA.
A few children and young people have such significant difficulties needs that an EHCNA should not be delayed.
Asking for an EHC Needs Assessment
The following people can request the local authority to undertake an EHCNA:
- a parent
- the young person themselves, if they are between 16 and 25 years of age
- your child or young person’s nursery, school or college (usually the SENCO makes the request for an EHCNA)
When this assessment is finished, the local authority must decide whether to issue an EHC Plan for your child. Even if an EHC Plan is not agreed, the EHCNA should provide useful information about your child's SEND and advice to their school about how to further support them.
Applying for an EHC Needs Assessment
You don’t need to ask for the nursery, school or college's permission or agreement if you want to apply, but it does help to work together with your child’s educational setting. If you can to make sure that they have done all they can to support your child and ask if they agree that an EHCNA would be a good next step. We can help you to prepare for a meeting in school.
If you decide to make a parental request, the local authority will contact your child’s nursery, school or college to ask for information such as a copy of the My Support Plan.
Your child’s nursery, school or college can also apply for an EHCNA, but you don’t both need to do it.
If you decide to apply for an EHCNA, you do so by writing to: SEN Services Team, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA. Or you can contact the SEN Services team on email: email@example.com.
Remember to keep a copy of all correspondence, so you’ve got a record. The IPSEA website provides a number of useful template letters which you can use when dealing with EHCNAs and EHC Plans.
You can also contact us to ask for help to make the request.
EHCNA applications - supporting information
When you apply you need to send in any extra information which will help to support your application.
As you're an expert on your child, it's important to give a detailed picture of your child’s day-to-day difficulties. You also need to say what help they have had so far with their education, and why you think they need something extra, or different, to help them learn.
The local authority will gather information about your child's social care needs as part of the EHCNA. If your family is not already getting support from children's services, you can ask the local authority to do a separate assessment to decide if you or your child need support at home or in the community.
Supporting information may include copies of assessments, reports and letters. These should ideally have been written within the last year. You can send in letters or reports from more than a year ago if they have information in them about a diagnosis. This could be something like an autism assessment and diagnosis, or a letter from your child’s doctor which says they have anxiety.
Don’t send original documents as they may not be sent back to you.
As part of the EHCNA process the local authority will gather information about your child's social care needs. If your family is not already getting support from children's services, you can ask the local authority to do a separate assessment to decide if you or your child need support at home or in the community.
Find out how to ask for an assessment, what to expect during the assessment, and what'll happen next for you, and child or young person under 18 on the Contact website.
The Contact website also includes advice and a number of EHCNA template letters.
EHCNA applications for children over 16
If your young person is aged between 16 and 25, they can ask for an EHCNA themselves.
The process is the same for young people as it is for parents, and they can send a letter or email to make the request. They can do that themselves or with help from you or another trusted adult.
The SEN Services team will get in touch directly with any young person who has asked for an EHCNA. If they need to, SEN Services will also speak directly to your young person about the assessment.
As their parent or carer you can also be invited to take part in the assessment. Your young person should add your details and main contacts, both family and involved professionals to the letter.
If your young person is between 16 and 25 and is unable to apply for an EHCNA themselves, you can do it on their behalf. This would be necessary if your young person is unable to make informed decisions about their education and future. This would usually be the result of a decision regarding their mental capacity, their ability to make a specific decision at a specific point in time. Most of the time it’s a young person’s parent or carer that decides whether they’re able to make decisions.
If you’re not sure whether your young person can make decisions about an EHCNA, get advice from your child’s GP, or see further information about mental capacity and decision-making.
The EHCNA process
The EHCNA process includes 5 steps:
- Consideration of request by local authority
- EHCNA - assessment
- EHCNA - decision
- EHCNA - draft plan
- EHCNA - final plan
Consideration of request by local authority
On receipt of your request letter or email, the local authority will contact your child’s nursery, school or college to ask about the support in place and for a copy of the My Support Plan. The local authority will look at all the information and then must tell you within 6 weeks whether it has decided:
- to start the EHCNA immediately, or;
- that an EHCNA is not necessary
If the local authority receives a request from a nursery, school or college they should tell you about it.
If they decide not to access your child you will have the right to appeal. They must inform you of:
- your right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal and the time limit for appealing
- how to access independent disagreement resolution and mediation
- how to get further information, advice or support
See further information about appeals and mediation following a refusal to carry out an EHCNA decision.
If you have asked for an EHCNA before and had your request turned down, you can apply again whenever you wish.
If you had an assessment, but a plan wasn’t issued, you can ask for a new assessment if the previous one wasn’t carried out in the past 6 months. The local authority can do one earlier than that if they feel it’s needed.
EHCNA - assessment
The SEND Code of Practice says: "Local authorities must consult the child and the child’s parent or the young person throughout the process of assessment and production of an EHC Plan. They should also involve the child as far as possible in this process. The needs of the individual child and young person should sit at the heart of the assessment and planning process."
If the local authority decides to undertake an EHCNA for your child they will write to you to tell you what will happen and ask for your views. Your views and your child’s views are really important.
The local authority will ask a number of other people for information about your child. This advice should include information about:
- your child’s education, health and care needs
- the desired outcomes for your child
- the special educational, health and care provision that might be required to meet their needs and achieve the desired outcomes
- for a child in Year 9 (age 14) or above, advice about preparing for adulthood and independent living
The local authority must ask for advice and information from:
- parents, or the young person
- your child’s nursery, school or college
- an educational psychologist
- health professionals who work with your child. This might include a paediatrician, speech and language therapist, physiotherapist or occupational therapist
- social care staff
- anyone else you ask them to contact who may be able to give relevant advice
If your child has a vision or hearing impairment the local authority must also seek information and advice from a suitably qualified teacher.
You'll receive a copy of all the reports when the EHCNA is finished.
Advice and information requested by the local authority should be provided within 6 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 child).
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.
Towards the end of the assessment process, when the evidence has been gathered, you and your child, and the professionals will be invited to a meeting called a coordinated assessment meeting or CAM. The meeting with be chaired by the special educational designated officer (SENDO) from the local authority with the purpose of discussing the information and evidence gathered during the assessment part of the process.
EHCNA - decision
When the EHCNA has been completed, the local authority will decide if they are going to issue an EHC Plan. They must write to tell you whether or not they are going to make an EHC Plan, with reasons for the decision.
If they are not going to make a plan, they must write to you within 6 weeks to tell you this. You will have the right to appeal, and the local authority must give you information about this.
See further information about Appeals and mediation following a refusal to issue an EHC Plan.
EHCNA - draft plan
When the local authority has decided an EHC Plan is necessary they will start to prepare a draft plan and issue this to you. You will have 15 days to put forward your views to the local authority about the contents of this plan.
An EHC Plan is a legal document and they can be long and complicated. They are required by law to contain certain sections, and it is important to ensure your EHC Plan matches the legal requirements. If it doesn’t, it could make it difficult to enforce.
An EHC Plan does not have a fixed format and each local authority can develop its own ‘style’, but legally they must contain a number of separate sections. The generalised EHC Plan sections in the Code of Practice uses sections A to J, whereas City of York Council have chosen to number their section 1 to 7.
An EHC Plan should be clear to parents, young people, and to staff in nurseries, schools and colleges about:
- what it is expected will be achieved with the provision
- who has to do what
- when, and how often it should be reviewed
If anything in the draft EHC Plan is unclear, or if you think anything in the plan should be changed, before the final plan is issued you can speak with the SENDO (special educational needs designated officer) at the local authority or ask to meet with them, and other professionals who gave advice as part of the EHC assessment process to discuss the draft plan and explain any changes you would like to make.
Ahead of the meeting spend some time going over the plan in detail, it can be helpful to prepare notes about any questions you have or the changes you would like to request.
You can contact us for further support if you're not sure about what should be in your child’s plan.
Most children and young people with an EHC Plan can still receive their education within a mainstream school. Having a plan does not mean that they have to attend a specialist placement.
Sometimes a child or young person's needs are more complex and require more specialised and targeted support. This is when a specialist provision or placement could be considered.
We can help you look at specialist school and provision options. Further information on specialist provision in York is available on the York Local Offer.
When you receive a draft (new or amended) EHC Plan you will be asked which nursery, school or college you would like your child to go to. You may want your child to remain at their current nursery, school or college or feel there is a more suitable placement elsewhere. You can tell City of York Council your preferred setting.
The nursery, school or college will then be contacted (consulted with) and asked if they think that they can meet the needs of your child as written in the EHC Plan. They have 15 days to respond with a decision about offering a place.
We also recommend that you visit potential schools and settings to see if you think that they are suitable and we can help you to prepare for a school visit.
You can find out more about your rights to request a particular school or college in the SEND Code of Practice (sections 9.78 to 9.90).
See further information on choosing a school with an EHCP.
At this stage, you can also ask the local authority to prepare a Personal Budget, if appropriate. You can find more information about Personal Budgets and how to ask for one on York Local Offer.
EHCNA - final plan
Your child’s final EHC Plan must be issued within a maximum of 20 weeks of the initial request. Once final it becomes a legal document that must be upheld, your child (or young person) is legally entitled to the special educational provision set out in that plan.
See further information and advice about what to do when you receive your final EHC Plan.
However, if you're unhappy with the content of final EHC Plan or where you disagree with the school, the type of school named, or that there is no school named in an EHC Plan, you have the right to mediation or appeal to the SEND Tribunal.
You must send your appeal within 2 months of the date on your decision letter, or 1 month from the date of the mediation certificate, whichever is later.
See further information about Appeals and mediation regarding an EHC Plan.
If you would like help to do this you can contact us for impartial advice and support.
Re-assessment of needs
You can ask for re-assessment of your child or young person’s needs. This is helpful if their needs have changed significantly since the EHC Plan was first issued, the professional advice used to write the plan needs to be updated, or the provision is no longer meeting needs.
The IPSEA website contains useful information about requesting re-assessment of a young person's needs, including a template letter.
See more information about Re-assessments of EHC Plan in the SEND Code of Practice (sections 9.186 to 9.192).