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How we make an EHC needs assessment

If you are worried about your child's learning, you should always speak to their teacher or preschool leader in the first instance.

The outcome of the assessment can identify how the level of support required can be delivered.

It can either be delivered through the educational local offer or by making special educational provision when an education, health and care (EHC) plan will be written.

Requesting an assessment of the child's needs

You can request that we conduct a Special Educational Needs and Disability assessment for a child or young person if you are:

  • the child's parent or carer
  • a young person aged 16 to 25, acting on their behalf
  • a professional acting on behalf of a setting, school or post-16 institution
  • a professional such as foster carers and health and social care professionals
  • a professional who thinks an assessment may be required and can bring the child or young person to our attention - we will consider if an assessment is required

This should be done with the knowledge and agreement of the parents, carers or young person.

Educational settings must make themselves familiar with the SEND Code of Practice and take relevant and purposeful action to identify, assess and meet the special educational needs of the child or young person. They should confirm that the child or young person has not made the expected progress.

To inform their decision-making, we will need to consider a wide range of evidence from the education provider, such as:

  • 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 educational setting to meet the child or young person's SEN
  • evidence that where progress has been made, it has only been as the result of additional intervention and more support than what 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

If we have already undertaken an EHC assessment for the student during the previous 6 months, they are not required to carry out another assessment but may choose to do so if appropriate. 

Online applications

School and education settings

The online system enables schools and educational settings to submit requests for statutory assessment securely and efficiently after considering the details above.

We invite all educational settings with students living in West Northamptonshire to use this form and actively encourage its use for speed and consistency.

You can upload your supporting evidence documents to the form, but if your file size is too large you may need to send it to the appropriate EHC team using a secure email.

Please ensure that you include your supporting evidence from professionals with the online form, failure to do so will delay the process. If you have uploaded your documents to the form you don't need to email them to the locality admin team.

You can contact us to request a template that may help in organising the required information and a document providing help when considering the views of the child or young person. 

School locality areaEmail address
Daventry and South Northants[email protected]
Northampton[email protected]

Parents and carers

We recommend that you speak to the SENCo in your child's school before you ask the local authority to conduct an assessment.

You can use this online form to ask the local authority to conduct an education, health and care needs assessment for your child, aged under 16, as an alternative to writing to request it. We will check if the assessment is necessary, following the Code of Practice 2015.

To conform to the SEND Code of Practice, applications for students aged over 16 must be made by the young person.

You will be told of the decision within 6 weeks of receiving the request.

If you decide to use this form, it may help if you prepare any supporting evidence you have, as you can submit them at the same time. This evidence is likely to be letters and reports from medical and other professionals who have worked with or assessed your child. You can save your form and then return to it if needed.

This form was designed with the help of the West Northants Voices in Partnership. 

If you need support with your child's application you can contact:

The assessment process

The EHC assessment process has 5 stages and takes a maximum of 20 weeks.

If we decide not to assess, we will write and explain why and will offer a telephone call or meeting to discuss this decision. We will include in the letter the information that we used to make our decision, such as feedback from professionals.

There is a right to appeal the decision.  

Please see the information about mediation and complaints - an appeal may not be necessary. 

After we receive a request for an assessment, we must determine whether this is needed.

We must make and communicate this decision to the child's parent or the young person within a maximum of 6 weeks of receiving the request.

All requests are considered against a set of conditions in line with legislation under the Children and Families Act 2014. A specialist panel made up of relevant professionals, will help us decide whether an EHC needs assessment is required.

There are 2 possible outcomes of an initial application:

​Outcome of applicationNext steps​
​The child does not meet the criteria for an assessment of special educational needs.A letter will be sent to the applicant giving reasons for this decision and further options for support.​
​The application meets the criteria to proceed with an assessment of special educational needs.A case worker is allocated to be the single point of contact for the family and will explain the assessment process.

The child and family should be at the centre of the assessment process.

The caseworker will contact the family to discuss the assessment process and gather information. This discussion will include:

  • what works
  • what is not working
  • desired outcomes (for the child)

Process timeline

The process will take up to 20 weeks from the date we received the request for statutory assessment.

Working together

The EHC team will identify and contact relevant professionals to advise producing the assessment, including:

  • teachers at the child's school
  • an educational psychologist
  • specialist teachers who have been involved
  • medical professional (usually a doctor)
  • social care
  • external specialists supporting the student
  • specialist therapists (such as speech and language therapists, occupational therapists or physiotherapists)

The EHC team will liaise with these professionals to seek advice regarding the student's difficulties.

Views of parents

The EHC team will also seek the views of the parents and carers and the student's views.

Gathering information

The format and content of this information will include:

  • a clear description of the child's or young person's needs
  • impact these needs could have on current and future education provision requirements
  • outcomes sought for the child or young person

When all the information is gathered, a decision is made by SEN professionals as to whether it is necessary to issue an EHC plan.

Decision not to issue an EHC plan

The caseworker will phone the family to advise the outcome and offer a meeting to discuss ways forward. The EHC team will send the family a copy of all the documentation used in arriving at its decision not to issue a plan.

The SEN officer can meet the parents to discuss the decision and the support available.

We will advise you of your right of appeal and the need to consider formal mediation.

Decision to issue an EHC plan

If we think it is necessary to issue an EHC plan, the case worker will write a draft plan. This is sent to the family to review and decide to:

  • request changes to the draft plan
  • name their preferred education placement
  • request a personal budget

Parents can request a meeting to discuss the contents of the draft plan. In some complex cases, this meeting could involve other professional bodies who have been involved.

The SEN officer consults with the educational placements.

Parents return the draft to the SEN officer to consult the requested education placement.

Completing an EHC plan

The completed EHC plan, including the agreed school placement, is reviewed and formally signed off by the professional leads before being issued.

The final EHC plan is given to:

  • the parents or carers 
  • the child or young person
  • all professionals involved in the assessment process

After parents or carers give their views on the contents and identify a preferred school, the EHC team will consider the views expressed and engage in the consultation process for a school place.

When a suitable school has been identified it is named in section I of the EHC plan and a final EHC plan is issued, together with the right to appeal.

The education provider will meet with the parents and student to agree on short-term targets to fulfil the outcomes and provisions agreed upon in the plan.

Disagreeing with the EHC plan by a parent or carer

At this stage, if the parent or carer or young person remains concerned they may:

  • contact us to discuss any concerns
  • seek mediation
  • exercise their right to request mediation and to appeal to the First Tier SEND Tribunal Service

April 2024 update

We are aware of the overdue assessments for education, health and care plans. The current backlog is not where we want to be, and we have implemented a new approach to help resolve this. This is one of our key priorities. 

A working group, including our parent representatives, has agreed a recovery plan. This will focus on the backlog of needs assessments. This will also look at advice, processes and improvements to the whole process. 

All EHC needs assessments must have an assessment by an Educational Psychologist. We have had significant capacity challenges with this.  We have a new contract with a specialist provider to employ temporary Educational Psychologists (EP). They will focus on the outstanding EHC needs assessments.

Please note, that not all assessments will result in the issue of an EHC plan. They are working on the backlog of Educational Psychology Assessments. 

They are:

  • contracted for 12 months and are now working for us 
  • completing the overdue assessments

This will allow our internal Educational Psychology service to focus on new assessments. We expect to see an improvement for completing an EHC needs assessment from Summer 2024.

Local Authority staff will contact schools who have children waiting for an assessment. They will check what support is in place. They will ask if they need anything more and agree a date for the next contact. Contacts with parents will be through their EHC caseworkers. It will be approximately every three weeks. 

The recovery plan is also looking across the whole SEND system. This could be the receipt of health advice, social care or education advice. We will work together to support families affected by the delays.

We expect a reduction in the number of those waiting for an EP assessment by the end of 2024. We will then see a significant increase in the number of EHC needs assessments completed on time.

Contact the team

If you have any questions about the EHC assessment please contact us.

Last updated 22 May 2024