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Education, Health and Care needs assessment

The majority of children and young people with SEN will have their needs met through their setting's existing resources. Some will recieve enhanced support and are assessed and reviewed at the SEN Support level.

SEN Support aims to ensure a child or young person can meet their individual targets and outcomes and to make progress. Support and intervention is usually detailed in an Individual Support Plan (ISP) or Individual Education Plan (IEP).  

All mainstream schools are provided with resources to support those with additional needs, including pupils with SEN and disabilities. You can read about funding for SEN pupils in school here

Where a child or young person has not made expected progress the setting, parents / carers or the young person* can consider requesting a more formal assessment in order to determine if special educational provision is required. This formal assessment is called an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA). Local Authorities (LA’s) must consider any request for an EHCNA.

*Young people over 16 and below 25 in education (for example sixth form or college) can request an EHCNA). Those under 19 in youth custodial establishments also have the right to request an EHCNA.

Who can request an assessment for an EHC plan

The following people have a specific right to ask a Local Authority (LA) to conduct an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) for a child or young person aged between 0 and 25:

• the child’s parent/carer

• a young person over the age of 16 but under the age of 25*,

• a person acting on behalf of an early years setting, 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 may include a Section 23 referral from the health authority.

*Young people over 16 and below 25 in education (for example sixth form or college) can request an EHCNA). Those under 19 in youth custodial establishments also have the right to request an EHCNA.

The child or young person does not have to attend a school or education setting in order for a request to be made.  

How to request an assessment for an EHC plan

You can ask your local authority to carry out an assessment if you think your child needs an EHC plan. There are several ways in which you can request an EHCNA.  The quickest and simplest way is by using the EHC Hub: 

https://ehchub.southend.gov.uk/

Guidance on using the EHC Hub. 

Alternatively you or the person making the request can email the SEN Team SENteam@southend.gov.uk stating that you are requesting an Education, Health and Care needs assessment under section 36(1) of the Children and Families Act 2014.

Make sure your request includes the following:

  • child or young person’s name
  • date of birth
  • education setting (if applicable)
  • parent / carer name and contact details
  • child’s home address

Upon receipt of a request for EHCNA a member of the SEND Team will make contact with you to acknowledge the request. They will also ask you for details of professionals supporting your child and any evidence required to consider the request, this may include any private reports you have sourced. 

Who decides if assessment is necessary?

Following a request for an EHCNA, (or the child or young person having otherwise been brought to the attention of the Local Authority (LA)) the LA must determine whether an EHCNA is necessary.

Requests to undertake an EHCNA are presented to the EHC Multi-Agency Panel for consideration and determination.

The EHC multi agency panel is made up of:

Chair

SEND Service Manager

Substantive panel members

SEND Casework Manager

Early Years and Advisory Services Manager

Principal Educational Psychologist

Early Help and Family Support Practitioner

Rotating panel members

Senior Social Worker or Manager

Health representative consisting of:

  • Principal Paediatric Speech and Language Therapist
  • Rehabilitation Clinical Manager
  • Lead Nurse for Special Schools and Epilepsy Service
  • Specialist Health Visitor for Children with additional needs
  • One Head Teacher (term time only)
  • One School SENCo (term time only)

How EHC needs assessments are undertaken

Where it is agreed to proceed with an EHCNA the LA must gather advice from relevant professionals about the child or young person’s education, health and care needs, desired outcomes and any special educational, health and care provision that may be required to meet identified needs and achieve desired outcomes (SEND Code of Practice 2015 9.46).

An EHC Assessment Officer will be allocated to ensure that there is effective co-ordination of the assessment. The assessment must involve parents/carers and the child or young person fully in the process.  The assessment is usually conducted via the EHC Hub.  

Following assessment the EHC Assessment Officer will draft a summary report of all the advice received.  The report will be shared with parents and all of those involved in the assessment process. 

The parents and relevant professionals are then invited to a co-production meeting to discuss the assessment summary report.  This meeting provides an opportunity to discuss the desired outcomes for the child or young person and steps towards those outcomes.  It also allows for discussion on the identified, strengths, needs and provision required so any questions can be answered. This meeting usually takes place around 13 to 15 weeks from when the request was made.    

The assessment process must be completed by week 16 from when the request for assessment was made. A decision must be made at that time whether to issue an Education Health care Plan or not.

See statutory timescales for information.

What happens if an EHCNA is not agreed.

If the Local Authority decide that an EHCNA is not required the decision will be clearly explained to parents no later than 6 weeks from when the original request for assessment was made.

The decision will be formally communicated in writing and will include any recommended next steps or confirming what additional information is required to consider a further request. 

Parents will be offered a “way forward” meeting to discuss the decision not to assess with a Local Authority representative. The letter explaining the decision will contain details of who you can speak to within the SEND team. Alternatively you can contact them by emailing senteam@southend.gov.uk

The letter will provide information about formal mediation and the right of appeal to Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDist)

How is it decided if assessment is necessary?

The EHC multi agency panel will consider a wide range of evidence about the child or young person’s special educational needs to determine if they meet the criteria to assess

Section 36.8 of the Children and Families Act (CAFA) 2014 specifies that “The local authority must secure an EHC needs assessment for the child or young person if, after having regard to any views expressed and evidence submitted under subsection (7), the authority is of the opinion that—

(a)the child or young person has or may have special educational needs, and

(b)it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan.”

The definition of special educational needs is contained in section 20 (1) CAFA 2014 “A child or young person has special educational needs if he or she has a learning difficulty or a disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her.” This definition has two elements.

1. The child or young person must have either a learning difficulty or a disability; AND

2. That learning difficulty or disability must require Special Educational Provision to be made for him or her.

Element One – A learning difficulty or disability

This is defined in section 20 (2) CAFA 2014: “A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she—

(a) has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or

(b) has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions”.

Element Two – Special educational provision

This is defined in section 21(1) of CAFA 2014:  ““Special educational provision”, for a child aged two or more or a young person, means educational or training provision that is additional to, or different from, that made generally for others of the same age in

(a) mainstream schools in England,

(b) maintained nursery schools in England,

(c) mainstream post-16 institutions in England, or

(d) places in England at which relevant early years education is provided.

Special educational provision”, for a child aged under two, means educational provision of any kind.

Paragraphs 9.14 - 9.15 of the SEND Code of Practice set out the factors that need to be taken into account.

Evidence may include (but not limited to):

  • the child or young person’s academic attainment (or developmental milestones in younger children) and rate of progress.
  • information about the nature, extent and context of the child or young person’s SEND.
  • evidence of the action already being taken by the early years’ provider, school or post-16 institution to meet the child or young person’s SEND.
  • evidence that where progress has been made, it has only been as the result of much additional intervention and support over and above that which is usually provided
  • evidence of the child or young person’s physical, emotional and social development and health needs, drawing on relevant evidence from clinicians and other health professionals and what has been done to meet these by other agencies.
  • The views, wishes and feelings of the child, their parent or the young person.

If it is agreed that special educational provision is needed, the Local Authority will carry out an Education Health and Care Needs Assessment.

The LA must decide and communicate the decision to the child’s parent or to the young person within 6 weeks of receiving the request (SEND Code of Practice 2015 paragraph 9.11).  

EHCNA has taken place and an EHCP will be issued.

The assessment process must be completed by week 16 from when the original request for assessment was made.  A decision must be made at that time whether to issue an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) or not.

If the local authority decides an EHCP is needed, they should work closely with you and your child to make sure the plan takes account of your views, wishes and feelings.  

A draft EHCP will be issued to parents/carers. They are invited to make comments about the draft plan and to nominate the name of the preferred setting they wish their child to attend. This may be the setting the child already attends. 

Parents/Carers are given 15 days to comment on the draft plan and can ask for a meeting to discuss it if necessary.

The LA will formally consult with the current/preferred school or setting. The school or setting are asked to confirm they can meet the child or young person’s needs as set out in the EHCP. 

The LA should finalise the EHCP including any requested amendments, specify the name and type of education placement no later than week 20 from when the original request for assessment was made.

What happens if an EHCP is not issued after an EHC needs assessment?

An EHC needs assessment (ENCNA) will not always lead to an EHC Plan. 

The EHC multi agency panel will consider the information gathered during an EHCNA and decide whether to issue an EHCP.  

The panel may conclude the child or young person’s needs can be met without an EHC Plan and instead issue a SEN Support plan. This is not a statutory plan but combines all of the information gathered about the child or young person’s needs and how they should be supported.

The decision will be communicated in writing and will include the offer of a meeting to discuss the decision not to issue a plan. It will also provide information about mediation and their right of appeal to Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDist)

Further advice and support:

  • Southend SEND Independent Forum (SSIF) is the official Parent Carer Forum for SEND families in Southend, comprised of parents whose children have a range of needs.
  • IPSEA is a national charity offering free and independent legally based information, advice and support for parents/carers of children and young people with all kinds of SEND. 

Timescales for EHCNA

 Last updated: 25 May 2022

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