Requesting an EHC needs assessment

Most children and young people with special educational needs will have these met through extra support provided by the education setting. This is known as SEN Support and can include a wide range of provision and interventions.  

Read more about SEN Support 

However, if the educational setting has exhausted all the possible support options and your child or young person is still not making expected progress, or where the setting is not sure how to support your child, it might be appropriate to request an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment (the first stage in getting an EHC plan).

Talk to the SENCO in school (or to student/learning support for a college or the keyworker in a nursery) about the support in place, your child/young person’s rate of progress and what their plan for next steps might be.

When considering a request, the local authority will expect to see evidence of any progress that has been made, and that the setting has done everything they can (including seeking specialist advice from outside agencies) to help your child or young person. 

If your child is not yet attending or finding it difficult to attend nursery, school or college due to their special educational needs, requesting an EHC needs assessment may be an appropriate option.

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)

Watch our video on deciding whether to make a parental request for an EHC needs assessment.

How to contact the local authority to make a parental request

To begin the process, usually a request will be made by the setting(to the local authority), though as a parent/carer you have the right to make a request directly with the local authority. 

We would recommend you let the setting knowif you decide to make a  parental request, as they will be contacted by the local authority to provide some information.

You can request an EHC needs assessment by contacting the Family Services Team.

You can also request re-assessmentwith the local authority at any time, where needs have changed significantly. Take a look at the information from IPSEA, including their template letter.

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 Family Services team will also be requesting information from your child’s educational setting. You will be asked to sign the paperwork before the educational setting sends this to the local authority. You can take the paperwork away with you to give you time to read through prior to signing.

They must decide whether to proceed with an assessment and let you know  within six weeksof the initial request. They will always contact you as a parent or young person – even where the request was made by the school or college. Check out our EHC Timeline document(PDF) for further information.

Special Needs Jungle flowcharts about requesting an EHC needs assessment and the process.