Most children and young people with special educational needs can be provided for from the resources normally available in their educational setting and community. The Local Offer and Core Standards for Education will make sure that families and practitioners can find out what is available and help everyone make the most of services offered.

Where provision cannot reasonably be provided through services that are normally available, it may be necessary to apply for an EHC needs assessment. Settings and someone who is familiar with the family should be able to help the family decide whether an assessment is needed.

It is usually best for families to talk to their child’s setting or someone working with their child before a request is made.

Children and young people with primarily health or care needs will not be issued with a plan, unless those needs impact on their education.

When a request is made it really helps the people making the decision to know why the family think an assessment is needed. There are questions on the request form that help to gather good information about the journey for the child so far.

When there are complex needs, all of the things that have been tried so far will be discussed to make sure it is possible to move forward in the best way. It is important the aims and goals of the child or young person come first, and information built up over time helps to make sure ambitions and outcomes can be achieved.

The SEND Casework Officer can talk you through the process and keep you updated at every step of the way. Sometimes families may find it helpful to talk to SENDIAS or other voluntary support services when a request for an EHC Needs Assessment is being considered.

Who can apply

Early years providers, schools, colleges and other bodies can request assessments but only with the knowledge and agreement of the parent or young person, where this is possible. When the educational setting makes this request, it must provide all the information required at the time of making the request. This can help speed up the decision-making process. Parents of children, and young people over 16, also have the right to request an EHC Needs Assessment independently.