Education, Health and Care Needs Assessments and Plans

Education, health and care (EHC) needs assessments are for children and young people with the most severe and complex needs.

When to request an Education, Health and Care needs assessment 

An EHC needs assessment is not the first step in the process of meeting the needs of a child or young person with SEN .

Most children and young people’s special educational needs will be met within mainstream educational settings at the SEN Support level. We recommended that you read information about Support  and consult the Cheshire East Toolkit for SEND  before considering an EHC needs assessment request.

EHC needs assessment requests should be considered when the child or young person has not made expected progress despite a school or setting having taken relevant and purposeful action at the SEN Support level (as outlined in the Graduated Approach section of the Cheshire East Toolkit for SEND).

Who can request an EHC needs assessment

  • Your child’s educational setting (for example, a school, college or early years setting). This should be done with the knowledge and agreement of the parent/carer or young person where possible
  • A parent/carer. You will need to contact the SEND Team. You should first discuss your concerns with your child or young person’s educational setting prior to making a request.
  • Young people aged 16 or over with SEN. You may wish to discuss your concerns with someone else before making a request for an assessment, such as your educational setting (school or college), parent or carer, or independent support services.

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.

As a local authority, we will carry out an EHC needs assessment for a child or young person if, after having considered any views expressed and evidence submitted, we are 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.

To inform our decision about whether an EHC needs assessment is required, we will need to take into account a wide range of evidence that describe the child or young person’s needs, rate of progress and the support that has been provided. Examples of evidence that we will consider are described in our checklists for EHC needs assessment requests. 

Due to the range of evidence to be considered, it is beneficial if educational settings, parents/carers, young people and other professionals work together wherever possible to submit a request for an EHC needs assessment. 

How to request an EHC needs assessment

All requests for EHC needs assessments should include evidence of the support that is being provided, and the strategies and approaches that have been followed to meet the child or young person’s special educational needs. There must be clear evidence of why the special educational needs of the child or young person cannot reasonably be met by the “additional to” and “different from” services provided by the educational setting.

Educational settings

To request an EHC needs assessment, educational settings are asked to submit the following documents to the SEND Team via email or post in line with the Cheshire East Toolkit for SEND:

  • a completed and reviewed SEN Support Plan
  • a costed provision map
  • a knowledge and agreement form completed by the young person (if aged 16 or over) and/or their parents
  • a completed checklist of required additional information

Blank templates for these documents can be found on the Cheshire East Toolkit for SEND page.

Parent carers or young people aged 16 or over

If you are a young person or parent carer and are unsure or concerned about the support that is in place within the educational setting, it may be helpful in the first instance to contact your/your child’s educational setting about the support that is being provided in the setting, and any concerns you may have about this. If you have further concerns, you can contact the local authority’s SEND Inclusion Quality Team for an initial discussion. This team will work with you and the setting to look at the support that is currently in place, and whether an EHC needs assessment is required. This can often lead to speedier resolution of issues and appropriate support being put in place.

Young people and parent carers may also find it helpful to talk to the independent Cheshire East Information, Advice and Support team or other voluntary support services when a request for an EHC needs assessment is being considered.

After considering the above, if you still wish to make a request for an EHC needs assessment, you should contact the SEND team, ideally in writing by email or post. A template letter is available on the IPSEA website.

In order to make an informed decision, we need as much evidence as possible, and we would therefore ask you to send in any professional reports or letters that you may have, along with your request letter. We have provided a checklist for young people and parents/carers to help with this, which you should complete and send in with your request letter and the professional reports or letters. 

Bringing a child or young person to the attention of the Local Authority

In addition to the above, 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, youth offending teams or probation services, those responsible for education in custody, school or college staff or a family friend. Bringing a child or young person to the attention of the local authority will be undertaken on an individual basis where there are specific concerns.

Also, where a health body is of the opinion that a young child under compulsory school age has, or probably has, SEN, they must inform the child’s parents and bring the child to the attention of the appropriate local authority. The health body must also give the parents the opportunity to discuss their opinion and let them know about any voluntary organisations that are likely to be able to provide advice or assistance. This includes the educational advice, guidance and any intervention to be put in place at an early point and before the child starts school.

To bring a child or young person with SEN to the attention of the local authority, please complete our notification form (MS word, 67KB) and send it to the SEND team.

This should be done with the knowledge and, where possible, agreement of the child’s parent or the young person. If possible, please include a copy of our knowledge and agreement form (MS word, 448KB) signed by the child’s parent/carer and/or the young person, along with the completed notification form.

If you believe an EHC needs assessment is required at this time, we will need as much evidence as possible in order to make an informed decision, and we would therefore ask you to send in any professional reports or letters that you may have. We have provided a checklist for use with the notification form (MS Word, 61KB) which you should complete and send in with the completed notification form and professional reports or letters.  

What Education, Health and Care needs assessments and Plans consist of

EHC Plans consider a child or young person’s needs, agreed outcomes for him or her, their longer term aspirations and the special educational provision that is necessary to achieve the agreed outcomes.

They are focused on outcomes for the child or young person across education, health and care, and will set out how services will work together to meet the child or young person’s needs in support of those outcomes.

EHC plans will include details of the following:

  • the views, wishes and aspirations of the child or young person and their family
  • the special educational needs of the child or young person as identified by relevant professionals through recent assessments, and the health and care needs that impact upon their education
  • the agreed outcomes for the child or young person
  • the provision that will be made to address agreed needs, and who is responsible for offering identified provision and resources
  • arrangements for reviewing outcomes, including the formal annual review

How the EHC needs assessment process works

The Education, Health and Care needs assessment process determines if an EHC Plan will be produced. The assessment process should be completed within 20 weeks.

Details of the information that we gather as part of the EHC Needs Assessment process and how we use and share this information can be found in the SEND Team Privacy Notice.

If an EHC Plan is agreed, it will be reviewed every year, although parts of the plan can be reviewed more frequently, if required. The plan will stay in place until the outcomes have been achieved or if the special educational provision included is deemed to be no longer necessary. For young people aged 19-25, continuation of an EHC Plan is only necessary when it is agreed that additional time is required to meet the specified outcomes and these can only be achieved by remaining in formal education or training.

How families are supported

Once a request for an assessment is received by the local authority, the family will be assigned a named Local Authority Officer to co-ordinate their assessment. In the majority of cases, the same Local Authority officer will continue to work with the family if a plan is agreed, and throughout the duration of the plan.

Some families may find it helpful to have extra support to voice their wishes and views. Additional support could be provided by a professional already working with the family such as a SENCO or a health visitor. Additional support and advice is also available throughout the process from Cheshire East Information, Advice and Support.

Support available for children and young people without an EHC Plan

An  EHC needs assessment will not always lead to an  EHC Plan. All Cheshire East education settings receive funding to assist them in supporting children and young with SEN . Information on this can be found on the Special Educational Needs funding page and within the Cheshire East Toolkit for SEND. If the  EHC needs assessment identifies provision that can be provided at the SEN Support level, the information gathered during the assessment will be used to meet the child/young person’s needs through a individual learning plan such as an  SEN Support Plan from available resources through SEN Support. The educational setting will still be required to support your child by delivering the identified provision.

Contact us

Email SEND Team

Phone 01625 378042

Cheshire East Special Educational Needs and Disability Statutory Assessment Service, Floor 1, Macclesfield Town Hall, C/O Municipal Buildings, Earle Street, Crewe CW1 2LL


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