Dec Blog – How to apply for an EHC Needs Assessment.

How to apply for an Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment and what to include.

Some children and young people with special educational needs may need more support than a mainstream education setting (schools, colleges, nurseries) can offer and may need to have an Education Health Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) to work out how much and what sort of help they need.

There may be several reasons why you as a young person or parent are looking to make a request yourself for an EHCNA (Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment). Ideally if there are still concerns despite ongoing support (see previous Blog) then we would hope to see the school making the request directly but this may not always be possible i.e.

  • Child or young person is not attending school / college
  • School say they do not have the time or staff to make a timely request
  • School do not think that your child / young person’s needs will meet the Local Authority’s (LA’s) criteria,
  • School have not collected the evidence required by the LA.

However, if you feel that your child’s needs (or your own needs as a young person) meet the criteria set out in law (Children & Families Act 2014 and the SEN Code of Practice 2015) then you have the right to request an EHC Needs Assessment from the Local Authority.

How to apply for an EHCNA:

The following people have a specific right to request for an EHC needs assessment:

  • A child’s parent1.
  • A young person themselves if over 16.2
  • A person acting on behalf of a school or post 16 institution

1For children under 16, the parent makes the request. This includes children from age 0 to 5, where parents should make a request if they believe that the child will need extra help at nursery or when they start school.

2Where a young person is between 16 and 25, they can make the request themselves. If the young person is not able to understand, remember or communicate decisions about the educational support they need, their parent or carer can make the request on a young person’s behalf.

Anyone else can bring a child or young person who has (or may have) SEN to the attention of the Local Authority, particularly where they think an EHC needs assessment may be necessary. 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 (other than the senco) or a family friend.

Bringing a child or young person to the attention of the local authority would be undertaken on an individual basis where there are specific concerns and should be done with the knowledge and, where possible, agreement of the child’s parent or the young person.  

The process should be the same whether a formal request has been made or they have been brought to the LA’s attention i.e. The LA should be contacted through SENAT (Special Education Needs Assessment Team) and they will seek views and evidence to decide whether an EHCNA should be done. In practice the majority of concerns will likely be discussed with the parent or young person directly and they themselves will make the request (if school do not). Only where parental agreement cannot be sought and there are ongoing concerns around education or parents are not able to make the request themselves that this is likely to happen.

Children and young people under 19 in youth custodial establishments also have the right to request an assessment for an EHC plan themselves.

Lawfully speaking there should be no specific way to make a parental request (i.e. you should be able to call the LA and state over the phone that you are requesting one). However, it is important for the LA to see as much explanation and evidence as possible so it is helpful to put it in writing if possible.

This can be done via page 6 of the WSCC online request pages Or in a letter–(see template letter as an example)

What should I include in my request

As discussed in the previous blog, an EHCNA request should be accepted by the Local Authority where there is or may be SEN and it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan.

For a young person aged over 18, a local authority must consider whether he or she requires additional time, in comparison to the majority of others of the same age who do not have special educational needs, to complete his or her education or training [CAFA 36(10)]

At this point, to determine whether an EHCNA is necessary, only needs that affect a child or young person’s learning will be considered. Where there is only health or social care needs, an EHC Needs Assessment would not be considered (however, other assessments may be required instead i.e. social care assessment). Once an EHC Needs Assessment is agreed then all other health and social care needs will be included in that assessment. It is still worth recording all health & social care needs in your request but we would advise making those that affect learning clear.

A note about mental health

It is worth noting here that although it has ‘health’ in the name, Mental Health comes under the SEMH (Social, Emotional & Mental Health) category of SEN and should be treated the same as any of the other 3 categories. If a child or young person suffers with anxiety and provision is able to be met at school to meet this need then an EHCNA would not be required. However if their mental health difficulties  mean that Special Educational Provision is needed and school or college are not able to resource that provision or a different kind of provision is required then they would be expected to provide, then an EHC Needs Assessment should be sought.

If you are writing as a parent, it is also important to record a child and young person’s views where at all possible. A helpful way to do this could be through a WIKI 

We have put together a list of suggestions of things to include that may help you to write your request  either as a parent or as a young person.

Some of these may be evidenced through professional reports; through ILPs or equivalent (individual learning plans), yearly reports or communications that demonstrate any barriers to learning.

What else to consider?

One you have sent your request The LA must reply within six weeks of receiving it (this is required by regulation 4(1) of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014). They should always reply to you as a parent or young person – even where the request was made by the school or college.

Within this 6 weeks, the LA (SENAT) will contact the school or college (if on roll) for their views and evidence which will be considered along with the information sent with your request.  As mentioned previously, we would advise you to speak to the school or college to let them know that you will be making your own request for an Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment as they will need to get their evidence ready for the LA (and they only have a short amount of time to do this).

Before you make your request, you may want to see what evidence the school or college holds, in case they have something that may help or could prevent you both submitting the same evidence. However, if this is not forthcoming and you feel that it may be helpful for your EHCNA request, then you may be able to make a SAR (Subject Access Request) to obtain this information.

One of the pieces of evidence that the LA will expect from the school or college is a costed provision map. This is simply a timetable of support that the child / young person receives with related costs (i.e. 1:1 / small group staff time; cost of involving specialists, counselling or therapies; cost of specialised software or equipment etc). The LA will often use this to see whether the school or college could use more of their own resources so it is important that they include ALL the support being given, with correct costings).

Who can help?

SENDIAS can help if you feel you:

  • Need further advice on what to write in your request
  • Are not sure if you / your child meet the criteria for an EHCNA
  • Want some help or advice to communicate with the school about your concerns.

You can contact us either on  0330 222 8555 or email us at send.ias@westsussex.gov.uk

Alternatively you may find the following helpful:

The Local offer

IPSEA

Contact

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