Applying for an EHC needs assessment and plan
If you’re concerned that your child is not making expected progress, despite already having some Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (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 Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment.
An EHC needs assessment may lead to an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) being written for them, but this is not guaranteed.
What is an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP)
An Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) is a legal document for children and young people aged 0 to 25 years with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), who need more support than their school can provide under usual SEND provisions.
The plan outlines what their educational, health and social care needs are, the support required to meet them, 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.
What is an EHC needs assessment (EHCNA)
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. The process usually takes 20 weeks and can be applied for at any time as long as your child is in education or completing an apprenticeship not in higher education (i.e University) and under 25 years of age.
The assessment may lead to an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) being written for your child, but if this is not agreed should still provide useful information about your child's SEND and advice to their school about how to further support them.
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.
This means that you don’t have to prove that they have 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.
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 SEND support meeting.
If you both agree that an assessment is needed, then you could request this together. If school don’t agree, then you can still ask for one.
How do I apply for an assessment?
In Leicestershire, the Special Educational Needs Assessment and Commissioning Service (SENA) conduct all EHC needs assessments.
You can apply directly yourself to the Leicestershire County Council SENA department by completing our template letter to request an EHCP needs assessment or work in partnership with your child's school, who will complete a local authority request.
Completing this letter is a way for you to tell Leicestershire County 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 have an information page that can help you with what type of information to provide.
What is the assessment process?
There are four steps to the assessment process that are shown below that the local authority has to stay within:
Leicestershire County Council has six weeks from receiving the request to decide if they think that an assessment is needed. Within this time a decision-making meeting (panel meeting) is held to discuss the request and review the information/evidence that has been submitted.
If an assessment is not agreed, this is known as 'refusal to assess' and you could appeal against this decision to the SEND tribunal. A letter will be sent to you to inform you of their decision, which gives you the right to appeal. You can request a meeting with an officer from the Leicestershire County Council SENA team to discuss this further by contacting them directly. Their contact details will be on the letter.
If the assessment is agreed, then Leicestershire County 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 decide whether they think that an EHC plan (EHCP) is needed.
If the decision is not to issue an EHCP then again you can appeal this decision, 'refusal to issue a plan' to the SEND tribunal. You can also request a meeting with the SENA officer. At that meeting you can discuss why this decision was made and then from that meeting you can ask the school to look at how they can better support your child from any information that was discussed at the meeting or from any written reasoning provided from your refusal letter.
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 received a decision letter from Leicestershire County Council saying that they don’t agree to the EHC needs assessment, this would be known as 'refusal to assess' and you could appeal against it to the SEND tribunal.
Other options would be to:
re-visit your initial request 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.
meet with the school to discuss the request and the support that the school are already providing.
for more information on appeals and mediation then please look at our webpage.
What school or setting can I choose?
Children and young people with an EHCP can still receive their education within a mainstream school, as all children have the right to mainstream education. Having a plan doesn’t 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, your child will remain at their current setting. They will only change setting if/when the plan is finalised, it names a different school or educational setting and a start date. During the draft stage you can also tell Leicestershire County 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 formally consulted with and asked if they can meet the needs written in the plan and have a place. They have 15 days to respond with a decision about offering a place.
There are many different types of educational settings available in Leicestershire for you to consider. Find out about SEND support in school settings
We also recommend that you visit potential schools and settings to see if you think that they are suitable and have included information to help you to prepare for school meetings and visits.
Using the information provided in a private assessment report
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, they should consult any other psychologists known to be involved with your child, such as those involved with the private assessment.
Existing EHCPs and reviews
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'.
Transition reviews are held in the first autumn term in years 6, 9 and 11.
What is meant by person-centred planning?
When planning SEND support for your child, good practice would be to use person centred planning.
Person centred planning puts your child at the centre of the planning and any decisions that affect them.
You can find out more in this video from the Council for Disabled Children (CDC):
Steps to take if you’re unhappy with the process or 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, whichever is later, 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 should consider mediation with the Leicestershire County Council first, to see if you can reach an agreement before the appeal is heard by the SEND tribunal.
For more information on tribunals you can visit our appeals and mediation page.
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 schools Special Educational Needs coordinator (SENCO) or contact:
Leicestershire County Council SENA team
Call: 0116 305 6600 during office hours
What if the plan isn't helping
If there’s a plan in place but things have not improved for your child, 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 school meetings and visits.
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 SENA team to discuss your concerns on 0116 305 6600 anytime during office hours or email SenaService
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 SENA team on 0116 305 6600 anytime during office hours or email SenaService
We can also help you to prepare for a review.
What can I expect to happen in an EHCP review?
The review is a 12 week process that looks at the plan, what progress has been made towards the outcomes and whether any additions or changes are needed.
It is also a way for you to raise any concerns or suggest changes if you’re not happy with the content of the EHCP. It is also an opportunity to request the plan is changed or updated if you have some new relevant information from professionals involved that you would like adding into the plan or to update old advice.
If you feel there has been a significant change that means the plan may need to be amended before the next scheduled review, you can ask for an early review by either speaking to the SENCO at the school or setting, or the SENA team on 0116 305 6600 anytime during office hours or email SenaService
The following steps must take place in a review:
Leicestershire County 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 two weeks, the school (or, for children and young people attending another institution, Leicestershire County Council) must prepare and send a report of the meeting to everyone invited. This report must set out recommendations on any amendments required to the EHC plan and should refer to any difference between the school or other institution’s recommendations and those of others attending the meeting.
Within four weeks, Leicestershire County Council will inform you of their decision to keep the EHCP as it is, make changes to it or cease (stop) it.
We can help you to Prepare for a review.
You can find out more about reviews in this video from the Council for Disabled Children (CDC):
What should I do to prepare for the review?
What should I do if I am unhappy with the outcome of the review?
Once you receive your draft EHCP after the review and if you disagree with the outcome decision of the review, you can firstly arrange to hold a meeting with the SENA Case Manager at the local authority to discuss the issues before the plan is finalised or if the plan has been finalised and you still disagree then you can appeal against it to the SEND tribunal.
What happens to EHC plans for young people aged 19-25?
Young people with EHCP’s may need longer in education or training to achieve their outcomes and make an effective transition into adulthood.
At the age of 19, it isn’t automatic that a plan will continue. Leicestershire County Council will consider whether they think it is still necessary and should look at the four outcomes of preparing for adulthood. These are:
moving into paid employment and higher education
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, Leicestershire County Council should put effective plans in place for the support they will need to receive 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 don’t have to attend multiple reviews, held by different services, provide duplicate information, or receive support that is not joined up and co-ordinated.
For more information, visit our preparing for adulthood page.
What do I do if we're moving or have just moved to Leicestershire?
First you need to contact the SENA team, which is the team within Leicestershire County Council that issues and maintain EHCP's. You can email SenaService or call them on 0116 305 6600 anytime during office hours.
If you haven’t moved yet, you should aim to get all your paperwork to them at least 15 days before you do. Speak to your current issuing authority and ask them if they can also get in touch with Leicestershire County Council.
If you have a school or setting in mind for your child, let SENA know and ask for them to consult with them. The setting will have 15 days to respond. You can ask SENA to consult with more than one setting. SENA will also advise you on what they think the nearest suitable school or setting is, that has available space.
You must also contact the school admissions team and tell them that you are moving or have just moved to Leicestershire.
Phone 0116 305 6684 (Monday - Thursday 8.30am – 5pm, Friday 8.30am - 4.30pm)
Whilst we hope that you find these resources helpful, the information in this section is not endorsed by Leicestershire SENDIASS and we're not responsible for the content of sites or services offered by third parties.