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Last month 566 parent/carers and young people accessed our service which led to a total of 2,981 emails, contact forms, telephone calls and face to face meetings. Contact us if you need our advice and support.  

From start to finish the process is 20 weeks. The initial stage where the local authority decides whether to carry out an assessment takes six weeks.

Please find below the timeframe of the assessment process:-

Week 1

To begin the process, an Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment is made either by the education setting, parent/carer or young person age 16+ with SEND to the SEND Operations Service (the local authority) with supporting evidence.   We would recommend you let the setting know if you decide to make a parental request, as they will be contacted by the local authority to provide some information.

Within 3 days: the local authority acknowledge the request and ask parents to complete a permissions form (if not already provided).

Week 2

Once the local authority receive the request they will consider the initial evidence of child/young person meeting the EHC Needs Assessment criteria, and request information from the education setting, if not already provided. Existing professional advice may be requested and considered.  

The child or young person must meet the legal test under Section 36 (8) of the Children & Families Act 2014 for an Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment.

Within Week 6

An agreement regarding whether to start an EHC needs assessment is reached if the criteria has been met.   The LA must let the parents or young person know whether or not it will carry out an EHC needs assessment within 6 weeks and give parents right of appeal if they decide not to carry out an assessment. 

The LA should offer A Way Forward Meeting or discussion to talk through the decision and ensure parents are given their rights to mediation. 

Week 6 to 10

If the assessment is agreed - any further work to inform the EHC needs assessment will be identified and requested.  All professionals are notified of the potential development of an EHC plan and requested to provide relevant information and the date of the outcomes meeting.

Any additional assessments from key professionals (Educational Psychologist, Inclusion Facilitators, Physiotherapy, Speech & Language Therapy, Continuing Care) to be completed and submitted to the SEND Operations Co-ordinator for the draft assessment report to be completed.  See the SEND Code of Practice

Parents have a specific right to make ‘reasonable’ request that the LA seeks advice for any person.  Eg. SPLT, EWMHS. If the LA agree to the request, the professional must provide the advice within 6 weeks.

 

Where the child or young person is in or beyond year 9, advice and information in relation to provision to assist the child or young person in preparation for adulthood and independent living 

Week 10 to 14

A draft assessment report is shared with parents and young person.  Parents must check through this report and ensure that the needs have been correctly identified as the provision and outcomes must take into account all of child & young person’s needs.

Week 14 to 16

A local authority financial meeting will then follow to calculate the costings of the provision and a decision will be made as to whether to issue an EHCP or not.   

If the answer is no, then parents will be sent a ‘refusal to issue’ letter outlining the reasons, parents right of appeal and rights to mediation.  The timeframe for notice of refusal to issue a plan must be within 16 weeks

If it is agreed that an EHC Plan is necessary, a draft plan is circulated to parents/young person for any changes and suggestions.  The Local Authority will give parents 15 days to raise any comments about the draft EHCP plan, request a meeting and name a preference school or school type. 

Parents will be given an opportunity to confirm the information gathered and advise anything they feel is significant to be considered.  If parents or young person request a meeting then the LA are required to meet with them.  Parents or young person will only be able to raise concerns regarding the needs, provision or school placement.  

Parents or young person may wish to request a Personal Budget including a request for direct payments - see Section 49 of the Children & Families Act

 The name of school or type of placement will not be named in a draft EHCP and will only appear on the final EHCP.  

 

There is no date specified in law by which the draft plan must be issued but for the whole process to be completed within 20 weeks, this must be issued by week 12 to allow for the draft plan consultation periods below.  This period may end earlier if the draft plan was issued earlier -the 15 days starts when the draft plan is served. 

Find out more about a good example of an EHC plan

Week 16 to 20

Following the return of the draft EHCP and any discussions with the LA, the SEND Operations team will then consult with any school/college or other place of learning the parent has requested.  The school or college should respond within 15 days. 

The local authority will then finalise the plan and a school or school type will be named. 

If the school/college do not respond the LA cannot rely on this to go over the overall time limit of finalising the EHCP within the 20 weeks of the initial request/becoming responsible.

 

In most cases a child or young person will remain in their current place of learning. Issuing an EHC plan does not mean that a child or young person’s place of learning will necessarily change.

Week 20

When the final EHC plan is issued parents will have the right of appeal, in accordance with Section 51 of the Children & Families Act , to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) (the “SEND Tribunal”) if they are unhappy about any of the following:

  • the description of child/young persons special educational needs;
  • the special educational provision specified in the EHC plan; and/or
  • the name/type of school or college in the EHC plan or the fact that no school/college is named

The final EHCP must be sent to the child’s parents or the young person and school or principle of any school/early years provider.

 The EHC needs assessment asks for evidence from the setting, family and any other professionals involved. It must show desired outcomes for the child as well as their strengths and needs and give a clear picture of their current developmental level as well as what the setting has already put into place to support the child.

 

An EHC needs assessment will not always lead to an EHC plan. If the local authority decides an EHC plan is not necessary, they will write to you and include information about your rights to mediation and appeal.  Information gathered as part of the assessment will indicate ways in which the setting can meet your child’s needs without an EHC plan.   

During the assessment and seeking advice

The local authority must ask for advice and information from:

  • parents or carers (or the young person)
  • your child or young person’s education setting
  • an Educational psychologist, who will usually arrange to see your child or young person in their setting.
  • health professionals involved with your child or young person. For example, this might include a Paediatrician, Speech and language therapist, Physiotherapist or Occupational therapist
  • Social care staff
  • anyone else relevant who you ask the local authority to contact, provided they consider reasonable (for example their GP, or a service provider you feel might have some relevant information)

Ipsea (Independent Provider of Special Education Advice) say 'the LA does not have to seek new advice where that type of advice has previously been provided for any purpose – for example, if there already was a recent educational psychologist’s report.  This exception will only apply if the person providing that advice, the LA and the child’s parent or the young person are all satisfied that the existing advice is sufficient'.   

The SEND Code of Practice says:-

9.49  Psychological advice and information from an educational psychologist who should normally be employed or commissioned by the local authority. The
educational psychologist should consult any other psychologists known to be involved with the child or young person

Can I submit an existing EP report or advice about my child or young person?

Yes, you can submit a previous report for an EHC Needs Assessment if is relatively up to date and accurately reflects the child or young person's current needs.  As a rough guide, an educational psychologist’s report which is over two years old will not usually be recent enough to be useful.  

If a parent or young person already has their own advice and reports, these can be submitted as part of their own advice (which the LA must ask for under SEN Reg 6(1)(a)) to ensure that they form part of the assessment process. This evidence must then be considered when the LA makes its decision.

 

What can I do if the local authority have not completed the assessment correctly or within the legal time limit?

You can write to the local authority if the assessment has not been carried out correctly or within the legal time limit. Ipsea (Independent Provider of Special Education Advice)  have created the below template letters for parents to write to the local authority.  You can download the letters and make changes as necessary.

 Complaining if the local authority does not respond within 6 week timeframe

Complaining when the local authority does not seek the correct advice during an EHC needs assessment

Complaining when a local authority does not send a draft or final EHCP

 Ipsea say :- Anyone who is asked for information and advice should respond within 6 weeks (SEN Reg 8(1) and paragraph 9.52 of the SEN and Disability Code of Practice).

 The exceptions to this are if exceptional circumstances affect the child, the child’s parent or the young person during that 6 week period; the child, the child’s parent or the young person are absent from the area of the authority for a continuous period of not less than 4 weeks during that 6 week period; or the child or young person fails to keep an appointment for an examination or a test made during that 6 week period.

 This is a legal duty which must be complied with; it cannot be avoided because there is a long waiting list or because there are staffing shortages. If an LA is genuinely unable to obtain one of the necessary pieces of advice during the time frame, they would be expected to obtain an independent report in its place'

 

Also in this section:

Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessments

Read or listen to our video explaining the Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment process

What is an EHC Plan?

Read or listen to our video on what is an EHCP and who is it for

When a Local Authority should carry out an EHC Needs Assessment

Guidance on what a LA must consider for an assessment request

Requesting an EHC Needs Assessment

Guidance on making a parental request and important factors to consider before a request is made

Gathering Evidence & Completing an EHC Needs Request form

Advice on gathering information for a parental EHC Needs Assessment and hints and tips on completing the request form.

EHCNA Frequently Asked Questions

Parent/carer questions on making a request, timeframe of assessment and what happens next

Local Authority decisions around EHC Needs Assessments

Information on LA decisions around EHC Needs Assessment.

Health and Social Care Elements of an EHC Needs Assessment

Support on providing the LA with information about your child or young person's physical, emotional and social development and health needs.

Also in this section:

Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessments

Read or listen to our video explaining the Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment process

What is an EHC Plan?

Read or listen to our video on what is an EHCP and who is it for

When a Local Authority should carry out an EHC Needs Assessment

Guidance on what a LA must consider for an assessment request

Requesting an EHC Needs Assessment

Guidance on making a parental request and important factors to consider before a request is made

Gathering Evidence & Completing an EHC Needs Request form

Advice on gathering information for a parental EHC Needs Assessment and hints and tips on completing the request form.

EHCNA Frequently Asked Questions

Parent/carer questions on making a request, timeframe of assessment and what happens next

Local Authority decisions around EHC Needs Assessments

Information on LA decisions around EHC Needs Assessment.

Health and Social Care Elements of an EHC Needs Assessment

Support on providing the LA with information about your child or young person's physical, emotional and social development and health needs.