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Education, Health and Care Plans – Children in the Early Years - A Guide for Parents/Carers

What is an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment?

An EHC needs assessment is a statutory assessment for children and young people with complex needs aged 0-25 (for the purpose of this leaflet, reference will be made only to ‘child/children’). It includes the views of the parents, the child and involved professionals. The assessment helps the local authority decide whether a child re- quires an Education, Health and Care Plan. 


What is an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)?

An EHCP describes a child’s needs and the type of support that must be made available in order for them to achieve any outcomes agreed as part of the assessment.


Who is an EHC needs assessment for?

Most children with SEN will have their needs met by mainstream settings using the setting’s own resources.

In Sefton, settings can also apply to the local authority for top-up funding (known as ‘High Needs’ funding).This funding can be used to give a child the extra support they need in order to make progress. It means that children with a high level of SEN can continue to be supported in mainstream settings without an EHCP.

The local authority would expect to carry out an EHC needs assessment for those children:

  • Whose special educational needs (SEN) are long term, severe and complex
  • Who have not made progress in spite of the interventions and support put in place over a period of time
  • Who need SEN provision that cannot reasonably be provided within the  resources normally available to mainstream schools and educational settings (including ‘top-up’ High Needs Funding)

It is likely that the child will be known to Sefton’s SEN and Inclusion Service, including an educational psychologist.


Who can request an EHC needs assessment?

A request for an EHC needs assessment will usually be made by the child’s setting. Professionals working with the child, usually the educational psychologist, can also make a request with the knowledge and agreement of the child’s parents. Parents can request an EHC needs assessment directly although it is always best for this to be discussed with the child’s setting and involved professionals first. 


Who decides if an EHC assessment should take place?

The local authority decides if an EHC needs assessment should take place using the information provided in an EHC needs assessment application. Gathering parents’ views is an important part of this process.


How does a parent know if a request for an EHC needs assessment has been agreed?

The local authority will write to a child’s parents to tell them the outcome of a     request and the reasons why the decision was made. The local authority must give a decision within 6 weeks of receiving the request.


What happens if the local authority does not agree to carry out an assessment?

If the local authority decides not to carry out an EHC needs assessment parents should work closely with the child’s setting and involved professionals to plan how best to meet the child’s needs in the future. 


What happens if parents disagree with the decision?

Parents have the right of appeal to a tribunal if they are unable to reach agreement with the local authority over a request for an EHC needs assessment or the SEN elements of an EHCP.


Single Route of Redress – National Trial

What is the National Trial

The Government are extending the powers of the First-tier Tribunal (SEND), sometimes referred to as the ‘SEND Tribunal’, to make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans as part of a two-year trial. The trial will apply to decisions made or EHC plans issued/amended from 3 April 2018. 

To date, you have only been able to appeal the educational aspects of EHC plans.  The trial gives you new rights to request recommendations about the health and social care needs and provision specified in EHC plans, in addition to the educational aspects, when making a SEND appeal.  This gives you the opportunity to raise all your concerns about an EHC plan in one place.

It is only possible for the Tribunal to consider the health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan where you are already making an appeal in relation to the education aspects of the EHC plan and the education aspect must remain live throughout the appeal.

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How long does an EHC needs assessment take?

It takes 20 weeks from the time an EHC needs assessment is requested until the time a final EHCP can be agreed.  Although an assessment can be requested at any time, the 20 week timescale is important  to remember when planning transitions for those children starting school.


Must a child have an EHCP in order to go to specialist educational provision?

Yes, children attending specialist provision in Sefton must have an EHCP.  More  information about specialist provision can be found on the Local Offer website.


Who decides which school a child attends following an EHC needs assessment?

The child’s parents have the right to request a particular nursery or school to be named in their EHCP. The local authority must comply with that preference unless it would be unsuitable for the child’s age or ability or the attendance of the child would be incompatible with the efficient education of others or the efficient use of resources. 


If a child is starting school and is going through an EHC needs assessment should the child’s parents still apply for a mainstream school place?

Yes.  It is very important if a child is starting school the following September that their parents apply for a place at a local mainstream school which they feel would best meet their child’s needs - whether the child is subject to an EHC needs assessment or not.  For more information on mainstream school admissions, please contact Sefton’s  Admissions Team.