Support for EHC needs assessments and plans

Information on how we can support you through the EHC assessment and with an EHC plan.

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Our support is available for children, young people and parents involved in Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans. This page will tell you about the support you can get and give you information about what the SEND Code of Practice says.

You can read about the EHC plan and assessment process or download our SENDIASS leaflet (PDF, 534KB). Alternatively, watch these short animation videos.

The SEND Code of Practice says:

The purpose of an EHC plan is to make special educational provision to meet the special educational needs of the child or young person, to secure the best possible outcomes for them across education, health and social care and, as they get older, prepare them for adulthood. (9.2)

When is an EHC assessment necessary?

Schools give children with special educational needs additional help to meet their needs. This is called SEN support.

If your child does not make progress despite SEN support, requesting an EHC needs assessment might be the next step.

The SEND Code of Practice says:

The majority of children and young people with SEN or disabilities will have their needs met within local mainstream early years settings, schools or colleges. Some children and young people may require an EHC needs assessment in order for the local authority to decide whether it is necessary for it to make provision in accordance with an EHC plan. (9.1)

Who can ask for an EHC needs assessment?

The following can request an EHC needs assessment:

  • parents can request directly with the local authority, though we recommend you talk to school about this first
  • a young person over the age of 16 but under the age of 25
  • early years setting or school, but only after talking with you first

Professionals, such as a doctor or health visitor, can tell the local authority that they think your child needs an assessment.

You can read Suffolk County Council information, including how to request an EHC needs assessment within the 'Local Offer' web pages. 

Before the assessment

How does the local authority decide if an assessment is needed?

The local authority will speak to you, the school, and other professionals to get information. The local authority has six weeks to decide whether to proceed with a needs assessment. 

The SEND Code of Practice states:

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)

What happens if the local authority decides an assessment isn't needed?

By the six-week stage the local authority must tell you why it thinks that an EHC needs assessment is not needed. It must also tell you about:

  • your right of appeal
  • independent disagreement resolution and mediation
  • how to get further information, advice or support

If you disagree with the decision we can explain your options to you.

Download our Refusal to Assess leaflet (PDF, 335KB)

Anglia Care Trust (PDF, 85KB) provide disagreement resolution and mediation in relation to SEND in Suffolk. If you wish to appeal you must at first consider mediation and obtain a certificate from Anglia Care Trust before you can proceed.

The assessment process

The local authority will write to you explaining the assessment process and asking for the views of you and your child.

The local authority must ask for advice from:

  • parents
  • school or early years setting
  • an educational psychologist
  • health professionals working with your child
  • social care team
  • anyone else you ask them to contact who may be able to provide relevant information

You views are very important to the process and we can give you advice and support on how to provide them.

The SEND Code of Practice states:

In considering whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary, local authorities should pay particular attention to the views, wishes and feelings of the child and his or her parent, or the young person. (9.12)

Independent support

Any parent or young person starting the Education, Health & Care Needs Assessment process or transferring from a statement or LDA (Learning Difficulty Assessment) (PDF, 405KB) is entitled to independent support. 

An independent supporter will be able to:

  • provide free information and support to help you
  • talk through the EHC assessment process
  • help with paper work
  • attend meetings

Read more about independent support (PDF, 1.4MB). You can request an independent supporter from:

  • SENDIASS by calling 01473 265210
  • Scope by calling 0808 800 3333

After the assessment

By week 16 the local authority should let you know whether they have decided your child needs an EHC plan or whether their needs can be met through SEN Support. You can appeal at this stage and should read our leaflet on what to do if you disagree with a decision about SEN provision (PDF, 533KB).

If the local authority decides an EHC plan is needed they will send you a draft of the EHC plan, including copies of all the reports. Check everything you think is important has been included and that you agree with the outcomes and the proposed provision. We can offer you advice on the draft of the EHC plan.

This is your opportunity to talk to the local authority about any changes you would like them to consider and you'll be asked which school you prefer your child to go to.

The last stage is for the local authority to send you the final EHC plan. If you still don't agree with the final plan you've the right to go to mediation and appeal.

Contact us

Call our helpline on 01473 265210 during office hours Monday-Friday.

You can leave a message and we'll get back to you.

Email: sendiass@suffolk.gov.uk