Requesting an EHC needs assessment
Should I speak to staff at the nursery, school or college first?
Yes, definitely. Parents and young people aged 16 - 25 can request EHC assessment at any time, but the chances of a EHC assessment being agreed are usually much stronger if the request is made in partnership between families and education settings. Parents especially can often be anxious that their child has special educational needs when sometimes, they are just not achieving the same level of progress as others. Or when children do have special educational needs that require some support, nurseries and schools can usually meet most if not all of those needs from their own resources, supported by experts such as Educational Psychologists, and Speech and Language Therapist. In every case where a child or young persons is experiencing difficulty in their learning, you should already have been informed and involved in agreeing a plan to improve things - this is called SEN Support (more about this later). If your child or young person has not received a period of SEN Support, the likelihood of an EHC assessment request being agreed is low.
Speak first to your child's class / subject teacher, the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) and the head teacher or to the Principal of the college that your child or young person is attending before contacting the SEN Service.
What if the school or college offers to write on my behalf?
Anyone acting on behalf of a school or post 16 institutions is able to write and request an EHC assessment. They are often best placed to request EHC assessment as they will need to provide the Local Authority with specific information to support it.
When should I request an EHC needs assessment?
Whenever a child or young person has a learning difficulty or a disability which is holding them back at school or college and the parents of the child or the young person (or the young person themselves) believe that the school or college is not able to provide the help and support which is needed.
For children under 16 the parent makes the request. This includes children from 0 to 5 where parents should make a request if they believe that the child will need extra help when school starts.
In the case of a young person (over 16 and up to 25) they can make the request themselves if they understand it sufficiently well themselves - otherwise the parent can make the request on a young person's behalf.
Remember you can only ask for an EHC assessment if the child or young person has or may have educational needs - it does not apply where there are only health and/or care needs no matter how severe.
When should I hear back?
The LA must reply within six weeks. They will always reply to you as a parent or young person - even where the request was made by the school or college.