If you are concerned that your child is not making expected progress, despite already having some SEND support in place at school, or if you feel that not enough is known about your child's SEND and what support they might need, then you can request an EHC needs assessment.
An EHC needs assessment is a chance to look more closely at their special educational needs and the support that they need to help them learn. It may lead to an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) being written for them, but this is not guaranteed.
The process can take up to 20 weeks and can be applied for at anytime.
The following sections provide further information and advice about EHC needs assessments and the EHCP process:
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 what their school can provide under usual SEND processes.
The plan outlines what a child or young person's educational, health and social care needs are and the support required to meet them. It should also contain their learning aims and future goals.
You might find this video from the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) helpful:
What is an EHC needs assessment?
An EHC needs assessment is a chance to look more closely at a child or young person’s special educational needs and the support that they need to help them learn.
The law says that if a child has or may have special educational needs and may require specialist provisions to be made for them, the local authority must do an EHC Needs assessment.
It is a good idea to talk to your child's school first to make sure that they have done all they can to support them. You can also ask them if they agree that an EHC needs assessment would be a good next step. We can help you to
prepare for a school meeting.
If you both agree that an assessment is needed, then you could request this together. If school do not agree, then you can still ask for one.
How do I apply for an assessment?
In Leeds, the Special Educational Needs Statutory Assessment and Provision (SENSAP) team conduct all EHC needs assessments.
You can contact them by calling 0113 3785 256 or by emailing
firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for an application form known as an EHC2.
The EHC2 is a way for you to tell Leeds City Council about your child's SEND. They will then use this information, along with feedback from the school and your child, to make their final decision about whether to go ahead with the assessment or not. It is important they can fully understand the difficulties and the support that you think your child needs.
We can help you with
how to complete an EHC2 form.
What is the assessment process?
There are four steps to the assessment 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.
In Leeds, a next steps meeting will then be arranged. You will be informed of this meeting in writing.
If the decision is to issue an EHCP, then the meeting will be used to give feedback on a draft version of the plan. This feedback will be discussed at the meeting along with any changes or additions that may need to be made. You will have 15 days from receiving a draft EHCP to let Leeds City Council know if you are happy with it.
If the decision is not to issue an EHCP, then the meeting will be used to discuss why this decision was made and to ask the school to look at how they can better support your child. This will be then be recorded in an enhanced support document, which is similar to an EHCP except that it is not a legal document. If you disagree with this decision, 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 about private assessments?
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.
Once an EHCP has been finalised, it becomes a legal document that must be followed.
Plans should be reviewed at least once every 12 months (every 6 months for under 5's), this is often referred to as the 'annual review'.
An earlier review can be requested if you or the school feel that there have been some significant changes that may mean the plan needs to be changed or updated in some way.
EHCPs can also be a very helpful tool when planning for upcoming changes in educational setting, or phase of education. This is usually referred to as
transition planning and can be useful for young people that find changes in staffing or environment difficult.
It is also important to look ahead and to think about what preparation or support your child may need in their continued education or as they move from childhood to adulthood. This is known as
preparing for adulthood and should be planned from at least the year 9 reviews onwards.
The following sections provide further information and advice about EHCPs and the review process:
What is person centred planning?
Person centred planning aims to put children and young people at the centre of the planning and any decisions that affect them. When children are meaningfully involved, this can change their attitude, behaviour and learning and make them active partners who work with adults to bring about change.
You might find the following video from the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) helpful:
What if I am unhappy with What is written in the plan?
If you are unhappy with any of the decisions taken throughout the EHCP process, and it has been less than 2 months from the date on your decision letter, or 1 month from the date on your mediation certificate, you can appeal to the SEND tribunal.
You can appeal against:
- Refusal to assess
- Refusal to issue a plan
- The contents of the final plan
- The placement named in a final plan
- The plan being ceased (stopped)
You might also want to consider mediation with the local authority first to see if you can reach an agreement before the appeal is heard by the SEND tribunal.
We can provide you with more information about
mediation and tribunal appeals.
If you are outside of the appeal timescales (over 2 months) and are unhappy with what is written in the EHCP, you could request an early review of the plan. You can do this by either speaking to the SENCo at the school or setting, or by contacting the SENSAP team on 0113 3785 256. There is more information about reviews below.
What if the plan isn't helping?
If there is a plan in place but things have not improved for your child then you could consider the following:
- Would it be helpful to ask for a meeting with the school or setting to discuss your concerns? We can help you to
prepare for a meeting.
- Do you feel that the plan is ok but feel that the school or setting might not be following it properly? You can contact the SENSAP team by calling 0113 3785 256 or emailing
email@example.com to discuss your concerns.
- Do you feel that the plan is not suitable and needs changing? You could ask for the plan to be reviewed. You would do this by contacting the school or setting SENCo or the SENSAP team. We can help you to
prepare for a review.
What happens in an EHCP review?
An EHCP must be reviewed once at least every 12 months (or every 6 months for under 5's) to look at what progress has been made towards the outcomes and look at if any additions or changes need to be made.
The review is a way for you to raise any concerns or suggest changes if you’re not happy with the content of the EHCP.It is a 12 week process
You can ask for a review to be held at anytime, if you feel there has been a significant change that means the plan may need to amended before the next scheduled review. You can do this by either speaking to the SENCo at the school or setting, or by contacting the SENSAP team.
The following steps must take place in an annual review:
- Leeds City Council will ask for your views about the EHCP and also the views of your child and the school.
- A review meeting is arranged.
- Information is gathered about the EHCP and sent out at least two weeks before the meeting.
- The review meeting takes place.
- Within four weeks, a report is sent out and Leeds City Council will inform you of their decision to keep the EHCP as it is, make changes to it or cease (stop) it.
If you disagree with the review outcome decision, you could appeal against it to the SEND tribunal.
All of the steps above must be followed in order for the review process to be completed.
IPSEA have produced an
annual review checklist that you might find useful.
We can help you to
prepare for a review.
You might also find this video from the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) helpful:
What happens to plans for Young people aged 19-25?
Young people with EHCPs may need longer in education or training to achieve their outcomes and make an effective transition into adulthood. At the age of 19, it not automatic that a plan will continue. The local authority will consider whether they think it is still necessary and should look at the four outcomes of preparing for adulthood:
- moving into paid employment and higher education
- independent living
- having friends and relationships and being part of their communities
- being as healthy as possible
If a plan is continued beyond age 19, it must be reviewed at least annually and must contain outcomes which should enable the young person to complete their education and training successfully and move on to the next stage of their lives.
This happens at different stages for individuals, so not all plans will need to remain in place until age 25. A plan can remain in place until the end of the academic year in which the young person turns 25 if needed.
For young people with more complex needs who are likely to continue to need specialist support in adult life, services such as children's services, adult social care, housing and health will need to work together to plan and fund a smooth transition.
When a young person’s EHCP is due to come to an end, the local authority should put effective plans in place for the support they will need to recieve across adult services. They should ensure that reviews of EHCP's and care and support plans are fully joined up for young people who will have both. This is so young people do not have to attend multiple reviews, held by different services, provide duplicate information, or receive support that is not joined up and co-ordinated.
We can provide you with more information and advice about
preparing for adulthood.
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You can find more links on our
Useful SEND resource page.