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If a local authority (“LA”) is requested to carry out an EHC needs assessment by a parent, young person, school or college, they must consider:

  • whether the child or young person has or may have special educational needs (“SEN”); and
  • whether it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan.

If the answer to both of these questions is yes, they must carry out an EHC needs assessment.

This test is set out in the law (section 36(8) of the Children and Families Act 2014). This means these are the only questions the LA should be asking when considering whether or not to carry out an EHC needs assessment.

There is guidance on the legal test which is contained in Chapter 9 of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015

The SEND Code of Practice says:

The Code also says that a local authority, whilst applying their own criteria when deciding whether to assess, ‘must be prepared to depart from those criteria where there is a compelling reason to do so…’



The SEN and Disability Code of Practice, which is statutory guidance issued by the government, contains further detail on what LAs should consider.

At paragraph 9.14 the Code states that “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”. The LA should pay particular attention to:

  • evidence of the child or young person’s academic attainment (or developmental milestones in younger children) and rate of progress;
  • information about the nature, extent and context of the child or young person’s SEN;
  • evidence of the action already taken by the school or other setting;
  • evidence that 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;
  • evidence of the child or young person’s physical, emotional and social development and health needs, drawing on relevant evidence from clinicians and other health professionals and what has been done to meet these by other agencies

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

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.

How long does the process take?

Information on the timeframe of the 20 week assessment and what to do if the local authority have not carried out the assessment correctly or kept to the legal timeframe

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.