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 one-minute guides to supporting documents 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

Requests for  EHC needs assessments should, where available, 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.

EHC  needs assessments are a multi-agency investigation that aims to define the long-term needs of a child or young person. 

Educational settings

To request an  EHC needs assessment, educational settings are asked, where possible, to submit the following documents to the 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 one minute guide of suggested supporting documents 

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. 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 one minute guide to suggested supporting documents (Word, 60KB) to help with this, which you should complete and send in with your request letter and the 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

Private Advice

Any report from a professional – whether they work for a Local Authority (LA), the health service or independently – has the same validity.

Under professional codes of conduct, any professional is pledging that they will do their job to assess a child’s needs, identify provision and make recommendations based on the individual child rather than any resources available to their employer or client. What is most important is: the amount of time the professional has spent observing and assessing the child; how often has this happened – e.g. a number of times over a period of years; and their use of their own expertise.

SEND  Regulations 2014 reg.6(1) is clear that any professional that the  LA seeks advice and information from during statutory assessment is expected to report on a child or young person’s needs, the special educational provision to meet those needs and the outcomes that can be expected to be the result.

Parents are fully entitled to secure their own advice from professionals via a private or independent route. This evidence must be considered by the  LA in the same way as provision commissioned from  NHS or  LA providers and needs to be included as an appendix to the  EHC plan.

The  LA will take private advice into consideration when deciding the appropriate provision to include within the  EHC plan and should make this clear the source of the advice.

Where there are significant differences in recommendations about provision the  LA will take into account the evidence in each report about the child’s needs, and how the provision recommended will meet the child’s needs and support the holistic outcomes agreed with the family.

Where a provision does not have an established or recognised evidence base and is not mandated by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence for use in the NHS , then health professionals are unlikely to recommend it in their advice but can do so if they believe there is a reason for doing so.

Any provision in Section G to be provided by the  NHS needs to be agreed by the commissioning body.

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.

The  EHC needs assessment process document is currently under review and will be added to this page once finalised. In the meantime, please refer to the statutory timescales flow chart from the SEND Code of Practice (PDF, 110KB)

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 people 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 an 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.

Page last reviewed: 28 June 2024

Contact details

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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