‘Top Tips’ series for 2021

Happy New Year from the SENDIAS team!

Here we are in 2021 and I’m sure you will join us in hoping that this year will be better than the one just gone – for many reasons, and for many people. Last year seemed to be crammed full of information – about all different subjects, not least those relating to the impact of COVID-19, and our blogs were no exception. This year we thought we would write a series of simpler ‘TOP TIPS for…’ and ‘Guides to…’ blogs instead, which we hope you will find useful.

We have seen an increase recently in requests for help and support to make an EHCNA request, so we thought this might be a helpful one to start the series with. So without further ado:

Top Tips for ….

Making a parental request for an Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA)


An Education Health & Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) is the first part of the process to potentially obtaining an EHC Plan. Parents (or school) first have to request the Local Authority (LA) undertake an EHCNA. If this is agreed, the LA then use the evidence gathered during this process to determine whether provision should be made through an EHC Plan (or continued through SEN Support).

Before making your request:
  • Talk through with the school or college your reasons for wanting to request an EHCNA. It may be that they are already collecting the information or can explain their reasons for disagreeing. (However, it is your parental right to make the request yourself if you feel your child meets the criteria)
  • If your child or young person attends school or college, let the setting know that you are making a parental request (as they will need to still get all the information together and submit it within 15 days of being asked by the LA).
  • Gather all the information you have that will help provide the Local Authority with an holistic picture of what is happening with your child and their learning.

Contents of your request
For an EHCNA to be agreed to, the law states there are 2 criteria that the LA should consider (section 36(8) of the Children and Families Act 2014) – whether the child or young person has or may have special educational needs (SEN); and whether they may need special educational provision to be made through an EHC plan. If the answer to both is ‘yes’ then the LA must carry out an EHC Needs Assessment.
  • Break your request down into the 2 sections:

Part 1…. your child has or may have Special Educational Needs (SEN):

  • Set out details of: the child’s special educational needs, who identified or diagnosed them and when (where known). This may be through school assessments and reports, paediatrician, early years, Portage, LBAT, Aspens etc.
  • What are the difficulties your child has that make learning / learning in school hard for them? (behaviour, reading, paying attention, listening, following instruction etc).
  • If your child has any needs that are not known, or have not been identified, set out details of what you think the special educational needs may be and the reasons for thinking this.

Part 2 – they may need special educational provision to be made through an EHC plan:

  • What has been tried at school to support your child or young person?
  • What has worked / what has not worked?
  • How do you think an EHCP will help your child?
  • Gather as much concise evidence as you have, to support what is being stated in the request:
  • School reports, (including ILP / IEPs), costed provision maps
  • Early Learning Goals,
  • Phonics Testing and school assessment results,
  • Specialist recommendations and any other professional reporting evidence.  
  • Also –medical reports or referrals, any GP communication, and relevant emails that illustrate what you as a parent are stating in the request.
  • Where possible, evidence should be quoted from at the relevant points in the request, and all evidence should be listed in- and submitted with- the request. To note: If quotes or reports are used, try and include the name and date of the report plus page number next to the statement i.e. : “*** is unable to sit still for more than two minutes (see EP report p.9)”.
  • Remember, the people on the decision panel who look at the request, do not know your child, nor the circumstances and therefore can only make judgements on what information and evidence is presented to them.
Once you have gathered all the information:
  • You can apply online, by letter or by phone
  • Keep a copy of the letter (or the information you used if you made the request online).
  • Keep a note of the contact name and phone number from the acknowledgement you receive from SENAT (Special Educational Needs Assessment Team) as it is likely you will need to make contact with them.
Contacting SENDIAS

As with all the resources we produce, our aim is to provide you with information and advice to help you navigate the different processes you may be considering or currently experiencing. However, we are aware that this process can seem rather daunting at times, so if you feel you need more support, please contact us and we will get someone to help you as soon as possible. Please bear in mind that this might take a few days. The person who calls may be one of our SENDIAS Advisors or one of our SENDIAS volunteers. Telephone our helpline 0330 222 8555 (please leave us a message if it goes to voicemail) or email send.ias@westsussex.co.uk.

When you contact us please include some details:

  • Your name:
  • Your telephone number:
  • Your child’s name:
  • Your child’s date of birth:
  • Where do you live (nearest town / village):
  • Brief message about what help you are looking for

Further Information:

We have recently produced some more detailed guides to help you make a parental request:

We have also recorded a webinar on the EHCNA process which you may find helpful.

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