Education, Health and Care needs assessment process (EHC)

Support for children and young people with additional needs

EHC Needs Assessment Process

Support for children who have the most significant and long-term special educational needs

The purpose of an Education, Health and Care plan is to make special educational provision to meet the special educational needs of a 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.

Frequently asked questions

What does an education, health and care needs assessment mean for me and my child?

Education, Health and Care Needs assessment is a very detailed assessment of your child’s education, health and care needs and any support that they require. The local authority (LA) will use the assessment process to decide whether an Education, Health and Care plan is required.

When will an education, health and care needs assessment be carried out?

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice (2014) is very clear in its advice that the majority of children and young people with SEN or disabilities will have their needs met within local early years settings, schools or post-16 provision.

However, if your child is not making sufficient progress where despite assessment and provision, your child is not progressing, or not progressing sufficiently well then the Local Authority should consider what further provision may be, they may require an education, health and care needs assessment, in order for the LA to decide whether it is necessary for it to make provision in accordance with an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP).

The education, health and care needs assessment should not normally be the first step in the process, rather it should follow on from planning already undertaken with parents, the child or young person in conjunction with their education provider

Who can request an education, health and care needs assessment?

The following people can ask a local authority to conduct an education, health and care needs assessment for a child or young person aged between 0 and 25:

  • the child’s parent
  • a young person over the age of 16 but under the age of 25, and
  • a person acting on behalf of a school or post-16 institution (this should ideally be with the knowledge and agreement of the parent or young person where possible)

In addition, anyone else can bring a child or young person who has (or may have)

SEN to the attention of the local authority, particularly where they think an EHC needs assessment may be necessary. This could include, for example, foster carers, health and social care professionals, early years practitioners etc. Children and young people under 19 in youth custodial establishments also have the right to request an assessment for an EHC plan.


What happens after the request for an education, health and care needs assessment?

Once the LA has received the request, they have a maximum of 6 weeks from to decide whether or not to conduct an education, health and care needs assessment.


In addition, within these 6 weeks, an Assistant Special Needs Officer works with the family to co-ordinate a person centred meeting. This meeting will be with the family, Special Needs Officer and other relevant people requested by the family, such as an education provider or other practitioners who know about the child or young person. The purpose of this meeting is to review the child/young person’s One Page Profile (link to information) and gather the family’s views which will be added to the referral documentation and may form the family’s advice if an EHC needs assessment is agreed.


If an assessment is agreed, the LA will write to the parent or the young person to inform them of the decision and to seek any further views. Advice will also be requested from all relevant agencies and practitioners.


If an assessment is not agreed, the LA will contact the parent or the young person to inform them of their decision and their right to appeal. An involved practitioner will then meet with the family and school to consider this outcome and identify appropriate resources available through the Local Offer.


What happens when a statutory assessment is carried out?

During the assessment, information is collected from:

  • the child
  • the parent
  • the child’s school or early education setting
  • an Educational Psychologist
  • relevant Health professions (for example the child’s doctor, occupational therapist, speech and language therapist, physiotherapist, health visitor)
  • children’s social care, education welfare officers and other people that may be appropriate

What is the timescale from making a request to the completed Education, Health and Care plan?

The whole process must take no more than 20 weeks. 

  • the LA must give their decision in response to any request for an EHC needs assessment within a maximum of 6 weeks from when the request was received
  • when the LA request information as part of the process, practitioners supplying the information must respond in a timely manner within a maximum of 6 weeks from the date of the request
  • if the LA decides, following an EHC needs assessment, not to issue an EHC plan, it must inform the child’s parent or young person within a maximum of 16 weeks from the request
  • the child’s parent or the young person must be given 15 calendar days to consider and provide views on a draft EHC plan and ask for particular school or other institution to be named in it

Click here to see and overview of the assessment process timescale.

What is Single Category SEN?

If the Local Authority believes your child’s needs can be met through Single Category SEN your child will not receive and Education, Health and Care plan. This is the provision universally available to every pupil with special educational needs and disabilities at that educational setting. The details of provision available at individual settings are available through Suffolk’s Local Offer. For more information on the Local Offer please click here.