The Children and Families Act has introduced changes to the ways children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are supported. One of these changes is a new assessment process with an integrated Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) replacing Statements of Special Educational Needs and Learning Disability Assessments. The EHC Plan is for children and young people aged 0 – 25. It focuses on identifying individual outcomes and puts children, young people and their families at the centre of the assessment, planning and review process. EHC Plans will have the same protection in law as a Statement of SEN.
The majority of children and young people with SEN and disabilities will have their needs met by their local mainstream early years setting, school or college. However for those with complex needs that cannot be met by the support put in place by their school or college, an EHC needs assessment may be required.
Information on how the system for supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities is changing and the new EHC assessment process and plan is available in the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Code of Practice and the SEND Guide for Parents and Carers. There are also guides for young people produced by the Council for Disabled Children. EHCP Journeys - parent stories and feedback
Who can request an assessment?
Parents/carers, young people over the age of 16, early year’s settings, schools, colleges and any professionals working with a child or young person can request an EHC needs assessment.
We are trialling a new single EHCP request form to hopefully make the application process smoother and clearer for families, schools and settings. We would welcome your feedback for the new form, when you submit your application. We are looking to remove the current two form process from October 2018. If you would prefer you can still use the current forms while this trial takes place.
New trial form
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Cambridgeshire's SEND Information, Advice and Support Service have produced a checklist for parents/carers about the information needed when requesting an EHC needs assessment.
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How long does the assessment take?
There are statutory timescales for all local authorities. The process from requesting an assessment to issuing an EHC Plan can take up to 20 weeks.
How are requests considered?
All requests are handled by the Statutory Assessment and Resources Team (START). Once a request is received, the team will begin to gather information about the child or young person’s needs and the support that is already in place for them. Parent/carers, the child or young person, their school, college and any of the professionals working with them already may be asked to provide information.
This process of gathering information will usually take four weeks (20 working days) but may in some circumstances take six weeks (30 working days).
When all the information has been gathered a decision whether to carry out an EHC needs assessment will be made. This decision will be made by the Local Authority following discussion with the EHC needs assessment panel who act as an advisory body. The panel is made up of Senior SEND officers, head teachers and senior representatives from Social Care and Health.
If the panel agrees that your child is eligible for a plan an EHC needs assessment will be completed.
If the panel decides that your child is not eligible for a plan, START will contact you to explain why an assessment will not be carried out. They will make sure that you are aware of other sources of support and can meet with you to discuss the decision. If you are not happy with this decision, you can take part in disagreement resolution or mediation services.
Independent support for EHCP assessments
- For local independent information, advice and support for the EHC assessment process you can contact SENDIASS.
- Contact (for families with disabled children) also have a national free phone number 0800 808 3555 for information and advice.
Statutory Assessment and Resources Team
Telephone: 01480 372 600
We endeavour to answer all calls as soon as possible, however, if the number is busy, please leave a message and we will return your call.
Email: [email protected]