Requesting an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment

5 cartoon figures of people.  Different ethnic backgrounds.  One is in a wheel chair,  two are wearing glasses

An EHC needs assessment is an assessment of a child or young person’s educational, health and social care needs. It is the first step to getting an EHC plan. At the end of the assessment, the local authority must decide if it will issue an EHC plan or not.

The local authority must apply the legal test described on the page When should a local authority carry out an EHC needs assessment?

In considering whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary, the local authority should consider whether there is evidence that despite the early years provider, school or post-16 institution having taken relevant and purposeful action to identify, assess and meet the special educational needs of the child or young person, the child or young person has not made expected progress.

To inform their decision the local authority will need to take into account a wide range of evidence, and should pay particular attention to:

  • evidence of the child or young person’s academic attainment (or developmental milestones in younger children) and rate of progress
  • information about the nature, extent and context of the child or young person’s SEN
  • evidence of the action already being taken by the early years provider, school or post-16 institution to meet the child or young person’s SEN
  • evidence that where progress has been made, it has only been as the result of much additional intervention and support over and above that which is usually provided
  • evidence of the child or young person’s physical, emotional and social development and health needs, drawing on relevant evidence from clinicians and other health professionals and what has been done to meet these by other agencies, and
  • where a young person is aged over 18, the local authority must consider whether the young person requires additional time, in comparison to the majority of others of the same age who do not have special educational needs, to complete their education or training. Remaining in formal education or training should help young people to achieve education and training outcomes, building on what they have learned before and preparing them for adult life

There are two main ways for requesting a EHC Needs assessment.  

The SEND Code of Practice expects schools to use the graduated approach.

The graduated approach is a four-part cycle, where the school:

  • assesses the child or young person’s needs, 
  • plans the support they need, 
  • does the work
  • reviews whether it has made a difference.

Schools use a document called an Extended Support Plan/My Plan. This is for children who have long-term needs and need support from a range of services.

The local authority would like to see at least two assess-plan-do-review cycles (over two school terms). This is through the Extended Support Plan/MyPlan before requesting an EHC needs assessment.

For more information about the graduated approach and Extended Support Plan/My Plan, click here.

5 cartoon people from different cultural heritage, one is in a wheelchair.

There is no legal rule to complete a set number of Extended Support Plan/My Plan cycles.  This is before carrying out an EHC needs assessment. In some cases, children may have such significant needs that it wouldn't be appropriate to wait. In other cases, two cycles of the Extended Support Plan/My Plan may not be enough to get a clear picture of the child’s needs.

The Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator (SENCO) can take your child's case to a Locality Stage 2 meeting. These meetings are to look at cases where a request for an EHC needs assessment is being considered.  This is before sending a formal request to the local authority.

The school or other setting should send in:

  • educational advice and information.  This is about the child or young person. This would include evidence collected through the graduated approach. This includes the Extended Support Plan/My Plan to show the assess-plan-do-review cycles.

The local authority also needs the school or setting to show how they have worked with parents and partner agencies. This includes services provided by the local authority and NHS through the local offer.  Services such as:  

Settings can submit their information through Anycomms.  If a setting does not use Anycomms then it can be submitted by post to:

SEND Statutory Assessment and Review Service (SENDSARS)
1 Union Street, Floor 5, Howden House
S1 2SH

Or by emailing SENDAssess& 

Please see the Links and documents section for further information.  This will help schools and other settings about statutory processes around EHC Plans.

The Extended Support Plan/My Plan system is designed to ensure that requests for EHC needs assessments are supported with appropriate information about the child or young person. However, parents and young people have the right to request an EHC needs assessment at any time. You and your family can do this by sending a letter to:

SEND Statutory Assessment and Review Service (SENDSARS)
1 Union Street, Floor 5, Howden House
S1 2SH
or by emailing SENDAssess& 

The more information you can provide with your request, the better. If you want, you can use the Parent/Young Person Advice Form. The SEND Statutory Assessment and Review Service gives this to parents if the assessment goes ahead. This would save you having to repeat the information later on.

Once received, the local authority has a legal duty to contact your child's education provider, health and social care.

The school or setting should return:

  • Your child or young person's Extended Support Plan/My Plan.  This is if they have one.
  • Other relevant information and professional advice

The local authority will also request information from any professionals.  These are professionals involved with your child.  Please let the local authority know of other services you want contacting.

The local authority must write to you and your family within six weeks to tell you if they are going to carry out an EHC needs assessment.

EHC Placement Panel makes this decision.  They use all the information received. This panel meets on a weekly basis. This panel is a group of professionals from across Education, Health and Social Care.

If the local authority decides not to carry out an EHC needs assessment, you and your family have the right of appeal to the SEND Tribunal. Please see What if I disagree with a decision? for further information.

Last updated: