The purpose of an education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment is to get a good rounded picture of your child or young person's education, health and care needs to decide whether or not your child or young person requires an education, health and care plan (EHCP) or whether their needs could be met with SEN support.
Who provides information about my child as part of the assessment?
Getting the EHC assessment right is critical at this stage as it could contribute to building a good EHCP. It’s really important to provide the most up-to-date evidence that properly describes the needs of your child or young person.
We (Hertfordshire County Council) must seek information and advice on a child or young person’s needs, the provision required to meet those needs, and the outcomes expected to be achieved by the child or young person.
We'll ask people based on the list set out in Regulation 6(1) of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014:
List (A-H) of who should be asked for information (SEND Regs)
A- the child’s parent or the young person
B- educational advice (usually from the head teacher or principal)
C- medical advice and information from a health care professional
D- psychological advice and information from an educational psychologist
E- advice and information in relation to social care
F- advice and information from any other person the local authority thinks appropriate
G- where the child or young person is in or beyond year 9, advice and information in relation to provision to assist the child or young person in preparation for adulthood and independent living
H- advice and information from any person the child’s parent or young person reasonably requests that the local authority seek advice from.
We're required to seek all of this information (A-H) as a minimum. You should also be asked by your SEN officer (who is assigned to your case once we've received your request for an EHC assessment) about other people who could provide information.
Once professionals have been approached by us they have a duty to provide information within 6 weeks.
Prepare your professionals in advance
It's useful to speak to your professionals in advance, letting them know that you'll be asking them to provide information as part of the EHC assessment process, so that they are aware of this (and hopefully prepared) when we make our approach.
What should the information and advice contain?
Advice and information must be:
- clear, accessible and specific
- address the child or young person’s needs
- describe the special educational provision required to meet those needs
- and the outcomes which this provision will aim to achieve.
Professionals should share the advice they are providing us with parents and/or the young person. If the advice does not adequately address needs, provision and outcomes then you can challenge the professionals directly and ask them to change it.
If your professional can't provide information on time
If your professional is struggling to provide information within 6 weeks it’s useful to remind them that at this point we're only asking for advice and information about your child or young person's needs- they don't need to undertake any new reports or appointments if they know your child or young person already.
Existing reports or advice
If you've got existing advice or reports these can be submitted for consideration as part of the assessment process, as long as:
they are relatively up to date (a 2 year old report for example is probably not useful)
they reflect the child or young person’s current needs accurately
everyone (the person providing the advice, you and/or the young person, and us (Hertfordshire County Council)) is satisfied it’s enough.
The person-centred approach
The needs of the child and young person should always sit at the heart of the assessment process. This is often referred to as a person-centred approach:
We must consult and take into account the views, wishes and feelings of the child, young person, and the parent as much as possible.
The assessment and planning process should be easy for children, young people and their parents or carers to understand, and use clear, ordinary language rather than jargon.
We should ensure that parents, young people and the child are able to participate in decision making, and that this is done in a way that minimises disruption to family life as much as possible.
Multiple appointments should be co-ordinated or combined where possible and if appropriate.
If an EHC assessment results in an EHCP
If we decide to issue an EHCP, the first step is for us to send you a draft plan. You'll be given time to review and comment on the draft plan, which must be mutually agreed before the final EHCP is issued.
If we decide not to issue an EHCP
If we decide that an EHCP is not necessary, we'll notify the child’s parent and/or the young person, the early years provider, school or post-16 institution currently attended, and the health service and give the reasons for that decision.
This notification must take place within 16 weeks of the initial request for an EHC needs assessment.
We'll also inform you of:
your right to appeal that decision
the time limit for doing so
the requirements to consider mediation should you wish to appeal
the availability of information, advice and support and disagreement resolution services.
If we decide not to issue an EHCP, we'll make you aware of the resources available to help support SEND within mainstream provision. You might also want to look into SEN support.