Find out about education, health and care plans and how to request an assessment of your child's needs.
Although the special educational needs support in schools can in the majority of cases meet children's needs, sometimes a more detailed assessment will help the school to support your child more fully.
The school SENCO is a good first port of call if you are concerned your child's needs aren't being met. They may agree with your concerns and support you by submitting an Education Health and Care Assessment Request (EHCAR).
An education health and care plan is a single, legal document which brings together a child or young person's education, health and social care needs.
The child or young person must have special educational needs to be eligible for a plan. It is not necessary to have a diagnosed condition for a needs assessment to be considered. Likewise, having a diagnosis does not necessarily mean that a child or young person requires an education health and care plan.
These questions might be useful starting points for discussion:
- What is the school currently doing to support my child and is there anything further that could be tried?
- How would having an education health and care plan help my child?
- How can I / we and my child support the school with their input and how can we let you know our concerns and the difficulties we see at home?
- How often shall we meet to discuss progress?
- What outcomes do you expect my child to achieve and in what timescales?
Once your child's special educational needs have been identified and it has been decided that they need support, the school will put cycles of the 'graduated approach' in place (assess, plan, do, review). More information about the specialist support in schools can be found here.
If it is agreed that following several cycles of the graduated approach, your child is still not achieving expected levels of progress, or that their needs are not being met, it may be decided that a more detailed assessment would help them.
As parents or carers you should be involved in these discussions and be part of the assessment and planning process.
- The SENCO at your child's school or setting will be a main point of contact about the education health and care plan assessment and planning.
- Your local assessment and reviewing officer will also support you through the process. You can find your case worker here (pdf / 188 KB).
- If you want more advice, or are worried, you can contact the impartial SEND information, advice and support service (SENDIASS).
- If you would like to speak to someone from the local authority, please contact the SEN admin team on 01609 535002 or email email@example.com.
As soon as we receive the assessment request, we have twenty weeks to complete the process, which may or may not result in the issue of an education, health and care plan.
By week six
We make a decision on whether or not to continue with the assessment, based on the information submitted by parents / carers and by the education provider.
By week 12
All the evidence is submitted - including the opinions of parents / carers.
By week 16
We study the evidence and make the decision of whether or not to issue an education health and care plan. We inform parents of this decision.
By week 20
We have agreed a draft plan together with parents or carers. They have 15 days to consider, following the issue of the draft plan. The final education health and care plan is then issued.
Issuing a final plan
If an education health and care plan is issued, one of the final stages of this process is to decide and name a provider for your child’s education. Often this will be the school or setting they already attend, making reasonable steps to make sure that your child is included and that his or her special educational needs are met.
Sometimes it might be agreed that your child has more complex or extreme needs and that it would be a better option for them to attend a special school or other alternative provision. If this is the case, it is important that you feel able to make an informed request about which school or setting you would like your child to attend.
You should also have the opportunity to discuss funding arrangements for your child’s special educational provision and to consider whether or not you want to request a personal budget or direct payment. There may also need to be discussions about your child’s transport needs.
Reviewing the plan
Once the final plan has been issued, this will be reviewed at least once a year at an annual review (or at an interim review if there is a more immediate need). From Year 9 onwards this review must include consideration of your child’s developing independence needs as part of their preparation for adulthood.
- The Department for Education has produced a SEND guide for parents and carers, which includes the local offer.
- You can also view a list of establishments approved for educational purposes by the secretary of state, also known as Section 41.