We also offer this information as a pre-recorded information video and as a virtual information session.

If you would like to request an Education, Health and Care Plan for your child, the first step is to apply for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment.

What is an EHC needs assessment?

An EHC needs assessment is a chance to look more closely at your child's special educational needs and the support that they need to help them learn.

It might be a helpful step if you feel your child is not making good progress despite SEND support being in place, or that not enough is known and understood about what your child's SEND needs are.     

The process can take up to 20 weeks and can be applied for at anytime.     

An EHC needs assessment does not guarantee an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) will be agreed.

If a plan is not agreed, then the assessment should still provide useful information about your child's SEND and advice to their school about how to further support them.

Legal Test for assessment

When considering an application for an EHC needs assessment, the local authority must apply a legal test found in the Children and Families Act 2014 - 36(8).     

The Legal Test

The local authority must secure an EHC needs assessment for the child or young person if, after having regard to any views expressed and evidence submitted under subsection (7), the authority is of the opinion that:

1.The child or young person has or may have special educational needs; and

2.It may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan.     

This means that you do not have to prove that your child has SEND, only that they might and that they might need additional support to meet this. This will come from evidence at school that they are not making expected progress and find learning more difficult than other pupils their age.     

You also need to tell the local authority why you think that your child might need an EHC plan to meet their SEND. You do not have to prove that it is definitely necessary – just that it might be needed. Maybe you feel that they need more targeted and specialised support than is currently available in mainstream, or that are you considering a change of placement to a more specialist setting.     

If you feel that there is more the school should be doing to support your child under the graduated approach, then this should be dealt with as a complaints issue. As your application needs to show that your child may need something over and above what a mainstream school should be able to provide.

What is an EHCP?

An EHCP is a legal document for children and young people aged 0 to 25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), who need more support than their school can provide under usual SEND processes.     

The plan outlines what their educational, health and social care needs are, the support required to meet them and their learning aims and goals for the future. By law the educational setting named in the plan must follow what is written into it.     

You might find this video from the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) helpful:

How to request an assessment.

In Leeds, you would make your request directly to the Special Educational Needs Statutory Assessment and Provision (SENSAP) team. You can do this by:     

  • Sending a letter (for our advice click here)
  • Completing forms EHC2 and EHC4 (for our advice click here) ;or
  • Providing supporting information to the on roll school if they are making the request with you.
  • Click here for EHC forms

The EHCP process and timeline

There are four steps to the EHCP process:

  • Leeds City Council has six weeks from receiving the request to decide if they think that an assessment is needed.     

    A decision making meeting is held to discuss the request and review the information. You will be informed of the date of this meeting in writing.     

  • If the assessment is agreed, then Leeds City Council has a further six weeks from the date of the decision meeting to gather further evidence and information. This will help them to assess your child's needs, so that they can make a decision on whether they think that an EHC plan (EHCP) is needed.     

    If an assessment is not agreed, this is known as 'refusal to assess' and you could appeal against this decision to the SEND tribunal.     

  • Within twelve weeks of the request, if it is agreed that your child needs an education health and care plan (EHCP), SENSAP will start to write a draft. This can take between two and three weeks. They will send you a copy of the draft EHCP and you will have 15 days to respond in writing.      

    Sixteen weeks from the initial request, if it is agreed that your child needs an education health and care plan (EHCP), you have the right to request a meeting. SENSAP will do their best to accommodate your request and arrange a virtual or face to face meeting, depending on capacity     

    If you disagree with the decision not to issue a plan, you can appeal against 'refusal to issue a plan' to the SEND tribunal.

  • Within 20 weeks of the request for an EHC needs assessment, the final version of the EHCP must be written. Once final it becomes a legal document that must be upheld.     

What if I have been refused an assessment?

If you have recieved a decision letter from Leeds City Council saying that they do not agree to the EHC needs assessment, this would be known as 'refusal to assess' and you could appeal against it to the SEND tribunal.     

Another option would be to re-visit your EHC2 application to make sure it contains enough detailed information about your concerns and your child's SEND, to show why an assessment may be needed. It could be that things have changed, or more information has come to light since you made the initial application. We can provide advice on completing the EHC2.     

What school or setting can I choose?

Children and young people with an EHCP can still receive their education within a mainstream school. Having a plan does not mean that they have to attend a specialist placement.     

Sometimes a child or young person's needs are more complex and require more specialised and targeted support. This is when a specialist provision or placement could be considered.     

While the EHCP is still in draft form, Leeds City Council will tell you what they think the nearest suitable school is that can meet your child's needs. This could be the school they are already attending, or a new school or setting.     

You can also tell Leeds City Council your preference. It may be that you want them to remain at their current school, or feel there is a more suitable placement elsewhere.     

The schools or settings will then be contacted (consulted with) and asked if they think that they can meet the needs written in the plan. They then have 15 days to respond with a decision about offering a place.     

We can help you look at specialist school and provision options.

We also recommend that you visit potential schools and settings to see if you think that they are suitable and can help you to prepare for a visit.     

What if I have a private assessment?

If you have had a private assessment done, then you can submit this to the local authority as part of the assessment process to be considered.     

The code of practice (9.47) says:     

The local authority must not seek further advice if such advice has already been provided (for any purpose) and the person providing the advice, the local authority and the child’s parent or the young person are all satisfied that it is sufficient for the assessment process.

This means that the assessment should be taken into account. If the local authority chooses to also employ or commission an educational psychologist, then they should consult any other psychologists known to be involved with your child, such as those involved with the private assessment