EHC Needs Assessments


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What is an Education Health & Care Needs Assessment?

The majority of children and young people with SEN or disabilities will have their needs met within local mainstream early years settings, schools or colleges. This is usually made available through “SEN Support” (please see our SEN Support Page for detailed information about this). Some children and young people however, may require more support (“provision”) over and above that expected to be given through normal mainstream resources and this is where an EHC Needs Assessment should be requested.

A local authority must conduct an assessment of education, health and care needs when it considers that it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan. Code of Practice 9.3

The Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment (“EHCNA”) is the first step to getting an Education, Health & Care Plan (“EHCP”). It is an assessment of a child’s or young person’s education, health and care needs. It is a legal process and as such there are statutory processes and timescales that the local authority must meet in making their decisions.

In order for the local authority to consider doing an assessment there must be Special Educational Need(s). If an assessment is agreed, only then will health & social care needs be taken into account and included. It is worth noting though that there will be occasion where health and/or social care impact on a child’s education or learning and therefore may meet the definition of educational need.

Please note: an EHC needs assessment will not always lead to an EHC plan. The information gathered during the Needs Assessment may indicate ways in which the school, college or other provider can meet the child or young person’s needs without an EHC plan. Even if an EHC Plan is not agreed, the assessment would mean that there should be a much clearer understanding of your child’s or young person’s needs.

  • Who can ask for an EHCNA?
  • An assessment is usually requested by the child’s or young person’s educational setting (with parental / young person’s consent). However parents and young people can make the request directly themselves. A young person (aged 16-25) must request an assessment themselves or at least give their consent (where there is mental capacity to do so) and must be involved as mush as possible in the process. The local authority can also be notified by anyone else who thinks an assessment may be necessary, including foster carers, doctors, health visitors, teachers, parents and family friends.

  • Will I, as a parent, be involved?
  • Yes – where you want to be and involvement is strongly encouraged. If you are not making the initial request, your consent should be requested by the setting before the EHCNA request is made. However, please note that whilst this is best practice, consent is not mandatory and a request can be made without this consent. The setting making the request should sign a form to say they have advised you as parent carer as to what will be happening with the information they are submitting and that you have been signposted to the SENAT Privacy Notice.

    You should be involved in the information being given and you should also be kept informed about the process and know how you will be supported (or where you can get support from).

    “In considering whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary, local authorities must have regard to the views, wishes and feelings of the child and his or her parent, or the young person. At an early stage, the local authority should establish how the child and his or her parent or the young person can best be kept informed and supported to participate as fully as possible in decision-making”.

    Code of Practice 9.12

    You may be asked to provide additional information such as:

    • any reports you have from school, nursery or childminder
    • doctors’ or other practitioners’ assessments of your child
    • your parental views (this may come in the form of a Parental Contribution Booklet – see the end of this page for tips on how to complete)

  • How do I make a parental request for an EHCNA?
  • As mentioned above, usually the educational setting will make a request for an EHCNA if they feel that the support they have already been giving is not helping the child or young person meet the desired outcomes, and therefore more or different resources are required. However, there may be times when you feel it necessary to make the request yourself (for example, if a school says they are too busy / others need to be done first or they don’t feel they have enough evidence to proceed).

  • What if my child or young person is not on roll at a school?
  • There are generally two reasons why a child or young person of compulsory school age does not attend an educational setting:
  • one – because a parent carer has chosen to ‘electively home educate’ them. This can be for a number of reasons but is generally due to a positive, active decision to do so.
  • two – because a parent carer feels that the current educational setting(s) available are not able to meet their child or young person’s needs and has therefore made the decision for them not to attend.

    Whilst the result is the same, the reasons are important when looking at whether to request an EHC Needs Assessment.

    As we read earlier, a local Authority only needs to conduct an assessment of education, health & care needs when it considers:

    “that it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan” CoP 9.3

    If you electively home educate and you would wish to continue, then the local authority has no legal duty to secure special educational provision as it is deemed that as a parent carer, you have made your own suitable alternative arrangements. This would mean that an EHC Plan would not be needed and therefore neither would an EHC Needs Assessment.

    However, if your child has SEN and you are wanting the Local Authority to make special educational provision (which may mean attending a school once the EHC Plan is agreed) then you can make a parental request in the same way as above. The LA will follow the same process in deciding whether one is necessary. However, depending on how long your child or young person has been out of school, you may find it harder to collect evidence to show why special educational provision is needed as you wont necessarily have all the assessment results to show lack of progress or how they compare with their peers etc as schools may have. That doesn’t mean it is not possible, but it may be harder to convince the LA that one is needed.


  • If you want to make a parental request for an Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment then the following guides that SENDIAS have created may be helpful. These explain the law behind what the LA should consider, how you can make the request, the type of information you will need to include and a template letter that you can adapt (with some helpful advice for the different sections).

    1. Guide to making a Parental request for EHCNA
    2. EHCNA Request Template Letter:
    3. Guide to Template letter
    4. Background Information for making an EHCNA request

    Further Information

    This webinar is about the Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) criteria and how to request for one. It is 26.16 minutes long and was recorded by some of the SENDIAS Team in Feb 2020.

    If you think you will struggle with any of this on your own then please contact us by email: send.ias@westsussex.gov.uk or call us on: 0330 222 8555 to discuss how we may be able to support you.