To begin the process, usually a request will be made by the setting, though as a parent/carer you have the right to make a request directly with the local authority – and you can do this at any time.
We would recommend you let the setting know if you decide to make a parental request, as they will be contacted by the local authority to provide some information.
Most children and young people with SEN will have their needs met through SEN Support and you can contact the SENCO in school (or student/learning support for a college or the keyworker in a nursery) about your concerns around progress or the support in place.
You can request an EHC needs assessment by contacting the Family Services Team at the local authority.
You can also request re-assessment with the local authority at any time, where needs have changed significantly. Take a look at the information from IPSEA, including their template letter.
What happens when the local authority receives a request for an EHC needs assessment?
Once the local authority receives a request, they will send to you a ‘Family Advice form’ for you to complete and return, including your child’s views, within 15 calendar days. View the family advice form and related documents on the Suffolk Local Offer website.
The local authority must secure an EHC needs assessment for the child or young person if….the authority is of the opinion that-
(a) the child or young person has or may have special educational needs, and
(b) it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan.Section 36 (8) Children and Families Act 2014
In other words, if there is a possibility that a child has SEN which could need support which goes beyond the resources and advice routinely available to a setting.
When deciding whether to carry out an assessment, the local authority will consider evidence from the setting about what action has been taken to meet your child or young person’s needs, and what progress is being made.
They will also gather evidence of your child or young person’s physical, emotional and social development (drawing on relevant evidence from health professionals).
The SEND Code of Practice 2015 says:
“In considering whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary, the local authority should consider whether there is evidence that despite the early years provider, school or post-16 institution having taken relevant and purposeful action to identify, assess and meet the special educational needs of the child or young person, the child or young person has not made expected progress.” (9.14)
They must decide whether to proceed with an assessment and let you know within six weeks of the initial request. Check out our EHC Timeline document (PDF) for further information.