Demystifying SEN support in schools Part Two: EHC Needs Assessments

What you'll learn


EHC Needs Assessments

  • If your child isn’t being adequately supported by the adjustments that are provided by the school, you can apply for an EHC needs assessment via your local authority.
  • An EHC needs assessment is an assessment of the education, health care and social care needs of the child or young person.
  • You can appeal if the LA does not carry out the EHC needs assessment.
You’ve established that your child has Special Educational Needs (SEN) and you’ve liaised with your child’s school’s Special Needs and Disability Coordinator (SENDCO), but the SEN support they’re receiving is not quite meeting the necessary needs. It could be time to ask for an Education and Health Care (EHC) assessment. This is usually best done in discussion with the school SEN department.

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An EHC assessment is a precursor to a full EHCP (Education and Health Care Plan) and should be considered when SEN support isn’t meeting the needs of a child.

EHC assessments are available through your home local authority. They’ll consider whether a child has SEN and whether they need special educational provision to support those needs. If the answer to both is yes, they must carry out an EHC assessment.


If your child has a learning difficulty or disability which is holding them back in their education and the school’s SEN support is not providing your child with the help they need, you should request an EHC assessment via your local authority.

If your child is under the age of 16 you must make this request on their behalf and can be requested for children aged 0-5 as well, if you believe they will need extra help at nursery or when they start school.

When a child is over 16, they can apply themselves. However, if they don’t have the capacity to do so, you can still apply on their behalf.

It is advisable to speak to your child’s school or college before requesting the assessment – speak to the relevant class or subject teacher, the SENCo or head teacher.

Yes they can, but if you make the request yourself, you know it has definitely been submitted. It might be helpful for the school to write a letter to support your application, however.

Make a written request for an assessment and keep a copy of your letter. You should set out why you think your child requires an assessment and what support they might need should you go on to organise an EHCP.

Submit your application to the most senior person involved with education at your local authority. You can usually find their details on your local authority’s website and they’re generally known as the Director of Education or Head of Children’s Services.

It can take up to six weeks to receive a reply but should never take longer than that – they’re required within law to process an application within that timescale, so make sure you make a complaint if they take longer to come back to you.

You have the right to appeal against their decision. Any letter you receive from the LA should lay out how to appeal and who to contact next.

The LA must seek information and advice on a child or young person’s needs, the provision required to meet those needs, and the outcomes expected to be achieved by the child or young person.

This advice must come from a range of different people, as described here.

The LA will work with the Educational Psychologist (Ed Psych) who will carry out a series of different activities to help identify a child’s or a young person’s specific learning style, strengths and areas of need.

The LA may also seek advice from a speech and language therapist (SLT), Occupational Therapist (OT), Physiotherapist or CAMHS. For more information about what an EHC needs assessment entail, visit this website

The last part of this series where we demystify SEN support in school can be found here

For more guidance, we created a course “Raising Girls with ADHD” which goes into condensed learning of what parents need to be aware of. 

Want more tailored support for the parents in your organisation or settings?

We run workshops to support parents of ND kids navigate advocacy at school, parent and child relationship, and the elusive work life balance. 

We also provide ND training to organisations and educational settings. Register to listen to Sam Hiew’s talk about “Neurodiversity Through the Family Life Cycle” at Witherslack Group‘s Supporting Parents & Carers: Virtual ADHD Conference. 

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