EHC Needs Assessments: Requests
If you are unhappy with the current provision in place for your child’s education, and feel that not all of their needs are being met, you may wish to request an EHC needs assessment.
You may have tried to get additional help and various interventions to meet your child’s needs, in order to access their education, however this has proved unsuccessful.
This suggests that your child may require an EHC Plan. Watch the video to find out more about what an EHC Plan is.
Your child’s school can make the request, or you can do this yourself as a parent request.
What is an EHC needs assessment?
An EHC needs assessment is a detailed exploration to find out what your child’s special educational needs are and what provision should be put into place to meet them.
It is the step before an Education, Health and Care Plan (often known simply as a ‘plan’), but doesn’t always lead to a plan being written.
Find out more about the EHC needs assessment process by clicking here.
When can I request an assessment?
Whenever you like! The earlier the better.
The test for assessment is simply whether the child or young person may have SEN and that it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC Plan. You will see that this is a very low threshold. You will need to ensure your request covers these points clearly.
If an EHC needs assessment has already been carried out in the last 6 months and you want to request a re-assessment, the LA do not have to consider it. Otherwise, you can apply again whenever you like.
How do I request an assessment?
You should make a written request and keep a copy of your letter.
Your letter should set out why you believe your child has or may have special educational needs, and why you believe they may need special educational provision to be made through an EHC Plan. Send this to the Local Authority’s SEN Team. There is no legal prescribed format, although some Local Authorities expect you to fill in their own form for making a EHC needs assessment request.
You can find the latest version of the Southampton EHC Needs Assessment request form in the downloads section on the Local Offer page.
Where do I start?
You should make a written request and keep a copy of your letter. Your letter should set out why you believe your child has or may have special educational needs, and why you believe they may need special educational provision to be made through an EHC Plan. Send this to the Local Authority’s SEN Team. There is no legal prescribed format, although LAs may expect you to fill in their own forms for making a EHC needs assessment request. Check the Local Offer for useful EHC downloads.
Read through the resources you have downloaded and make notes on each section. Think about everything that your child finds difficult in life and requires support for. Come back to it over a few sessions. When finalising your letter, you can attach separate sheets to provide evidence.
Please note if the child in question does not live within the Southampton Local Authority area, then you will have to apply for an EHC needs assessment through the appropriate Local Authority, which may require different forms/processes. If you are unsure which LA your child is under, then find out by typing in their home postcode here.
What is the Local Authority looking for?
Ultimately, they want to see sufficient evidence that despite action taken to identify, assess and meet the Special Educational Needs of your child, they have not made expected progress.
They also want to know the following:
The nature, extent, and context of your child’s Special Educational Needs
Physical, emotional, social development and health needs, including relevant evidence from professionals
Academic attainment or developmental milestones and the rate of progress. How this has been reviewed over time. Ensure you have highlighted that there is a highly significant barrier to learning in comparison to others their own age
Past/Current Additional Support
Action already taken by school to meet your child’s SEN, and whether they have sought/responded to any advice from external professionals. Areas where progress has been made, but only as result of much additional intervention and support, over and above what is usually provided
What you want to achieve through access to special education provision. i.e. achieving educational outcomes, preparation for adulthood, independent and social skills etc.
You will need to provide evidence to support your argument that you/your child needs an EHC needs assessment. As much as possible, you should try to get together any supporting evidence to submit with your request. You should refer to this evidence to support your answers on the form (for example, if you are saying that you/your child has not made progress despite the support they currently receive, refer to school reports and/or other records which show this). Don’t worry if you don’t have everything ready to send straight away; you can state the evidence you are waiting for or assessments needed and/or send further evidence up until 6 weeks after the date of your request.
Useful Sources of Evidence
(Please note this is not an exhaustive list, it is here to give you ideas)
- Written statements from teachers: ask them to be precise and to quantify exactly what is needed for your child. Evidence this with copies of current and previous pupil passports/ IEPs etc.
- Information from the school/college record. Including results of both internal and national tests and assessments, communication with school (home-school diaries, emails, texts, letters), meeting minutes, current and previous pupil passports/ IEPs, pupil progress reports, incident reports, after school clubs, school trip risk assessments, educational psychologist report. If behaviour is a difficulty, the disciplinary record (exclusion letters, part time timetable risk assessments, attendance records) may help you show whether this is getting worse, whether for instance the school and your child needs more help to manage it and whether there is a pattern. You have a legal right to a copy of this information. Put your request in writing to the chair of the governing body at the school or the equivalent for a college (IPSEA have a template letter on p16 here)
- Written statements from others involved with you/your child e.g. social workers, youth workers, carers etc.
- Video/ audio evidence (this should be short and to the point. Video evidence more than 10 minutes is unlikely to be watched). Attach with it a statement of the facts the evidence seeks to establish.
- Information from voluntary groups relating to the learning difficulty/disability concerned.
- References to relevant research and findings and extracts from books, magazines etc. Beware of relying on this too much as the best evidence is going to be primary evidence about the child/ young person.
- Your own evidence: for example, has a younger brother or sister overtaken your child? Is he or she anxious about going to school? Do you get bed-wetting, particularly in term time?
- Evidence from you/your child, written via a third party when necessary.
- Your/your child’s school/college work if this demonstrates a point you want to make, such as the limited progress they have made, or a particular difficulty which is in dispute. Examples of the child/ young person’s work overtime. If there has been little progress over a period of time, it sometimes makes it clearer if you can show this visually by a chart or graph. You may also be able to show uneven achievement between one particular subject or skill and another.
Key evidence about the child or young person’s SEN and the provisions required to meet that SEN will usually be found in reports from professionals. Useful sources of expert opinion include:
- The Health Service e.g. speech and language therapist, occupational therapist, clinical psychologist, CAMHS, paediatrician, GPs, medical professionals, physiotherapists, psychiatrists etc. may write a report. Get your GP to refer you.
- Privately obtained reports from independent professionals. Reports from educational psychologists can be extremely important to your case. These can be very expensive so you may wish to consider:
➢ If you qualify for legal aid
➢ Voluntary organisations that specialise in a particular disability may be able to provide an assessment at a modest cost.