The EHC Needs Assessment and EHC Plans 

What is an Education, Health Care Plan ( EHCP )

Most children and young people with special educational needs will have their needs met through extra support provided by the education setting.

This is known as SEN Support and can include a wide range of provision and interventions.

However, if the educational setting has exhausted all the possible support options and your child or young person is still not making expected progress, or where the setting is not sure how to support your child, it may be appropriate to request an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment (the first stage in getting an EHC plan).

Talk to the SENCO in school (or to student/learning support for a college or the keyworker in a nursery) about the support in place, your child/young person’s rate of progress and what their plan for next steps might be.

When considering a request, the local authority will expect to see evidence of any progress that has been made in the education setting, and that the setting has done everything they can (including seeking specialist advice from outside agencies) to help your child or young person.

The SEND Code of Practice 2015 says:

“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.” (9.14)

You can find out more information regarding What is an EHCP HERE

Also on The Bexley Local Offer Page: What is an EHCP

EHC Timeline available HERE

Requesting an EHC Needs Assessment

For information on what you need to consider prior to requesting a needs assessment please click on The Bexley Local Offer link : The EHC Needs Assessment process in Bexley. 

In response to a growing number of parent carer enquiries to both Bexley IASS and the Bexley Local Offer regarding the EHC Needs Assessment request process. We have listened to feedback provided by Bexley SEND IASS Parent Carer Champions and have worked closely to co-produce a toolkit supporting you through the application process

To access the EHC Needs Assessment Parent/Carer Prompt Toolkit please click on the image to your right.

If you need to complain when the LA don’t respond to your EHC Needs Assessment  application at the end of 6 weeks please find the IPSEA template letter HERE

What you should do if your EHC needs assessment application is rejected.

The local authority must tell you in writing within 6-weeks whether or not they are going to assess your child, this is a statutory requirement.

The 6-week time limit runs from the date on which the LA receives the request for assessment.

When it is classed as ‘received’ will depend on the method used to send it. If it is:

  • Delivered by hand, the 6 weeks runs from the day of delivery (or the following working day if it is delivered after 5pm or on a non-working day);
  • Sent by signed for delivery, the 6 weeks runs from the date on which a representative of the LA signs for it (you will be able to check online when the item was delivered);
  • Sent by first class post, the 6 weeks runs from the next working day after it was posted;
  • Sent by e-mail, the 6 weeks runs from the day that it is sent (or the following working day if it is sent after 5pm or on a non-working day)


If the LA have made the decision not to complete an EHC needs assessment they must write to you informing you of their decision and they must provide information on your right to appeal.


Are there exceptions to the time limit?

Yes. There are some circumstances in which an LA may not be required to comply with the 6-week time limit if it would be impractical for it to do so. These are where:

(a) The LA asks for advice about the request from a school, college or early years provider during a time when it is closed for a period of longer than 4 weeks (i.e. in the summer holidays), or in the week before it closes for such a period.

(b)  During the six-week period, exceptional personal circumstances affect the child, the child’s parent or the young person or they are away for more than 4 weeks.

The LA will only be able to rely on one of these exceptions if it can show that making the decision on time would be impractical.

The LA is still required to notify you of its decision on your request as soon as possible.

If you have applied for an EHC Needs Assessment and your application has been rejected, you may wish to consider Mediation / lodging an appeal.

For more information on Mediation and challenging the LA’s decision, please follow this link MEDIATION

What happens next if your EHC needs assessment application is accepted.

The Local Authority must decide whether to proceed with an assessment and let you know within six weeks of the initial request. 

Once the Local Authority have agreed to assess, you will be allocated a temporary case officer within the Statutory SEN Service.  

For more information on the Statutory Assessment process in Bexley please refer to the Bexley Local Offer: Education, Health and Care Plans – The Assessment Process in Bexley | Bexley Local Offer

EHC Timeline is available HERE 

What to do when you receive the Draft EHC Plan.

Following an EHC needs assessment, if the LA decides to issue an EHC plan, they must send the parent / carer or young person a draft version at week 16 of the 20 week process.

EHC Timeline available HERE

This draft plan will include information on the child or young person’s special educational needs in Section B, health and social care needs in Section C & D, the provision required to meet each of those needs in Section F, and the outcomes that should be achieved in Section E.

Section A of the draft plan will record the child or young person’s aspirations, views and feelings. This is an opportunity for you to check whether the draft EHC plan contains everything it should.

Section I of the draft EHC plan must not include the name of a particular school, college or other educational placement, or what type of placement the child or young person will attend.  The name and/or type of placement will appear only in the final EHC plan, not the draft plan.

Along with the draft EHC plan, the LA must give you notice that you have 15 days in which to:

  • make comments  (representations) about the draft EHC plan;
  • request a meeting with the LA to discuss the draft;
  • request that a particular school or other institution is named in the final EHC plan.

The LA are legally required to do this (under section 38 of the Children and Families Act 2014).

If you are not happy with any aspect of the draft EHC plan, or the reports attached to it, you can suggest amendments you would like made.

When you make a request for a particular school, college or other institution, the LA must consult with that institution about whether it should be named in the final EHC plan (unless your request is for a wholly independent school).

For more information on your rights to request a particular school or other institution, see the IPSEA information on choosing a school or other setting.

You can respond to anything you’re not happy with in the draft EHC plan, to request a meeting, and to request a particular school or other institution is named.
For guidance on how to do this please refer to the IPSEA model letter HERE.

In order to comply with the overall timescale of 20 weeks from the request for assessment to the final EHC plan, the draft EHC plan should be issued within 14 weeks from the request for an EHC needs assessment. If the LA do not send you the draft EHC plan within this time frame, you can complain using the IPSEA model letter HERE.

For more information on checking the EHC Draft plan please click: Bexley IASS checking your EHC Draft plan HERE

Please find here a link to the Exemplar EHCP guide

Please find here a link to the EHCP from Age 14 onwards: Exemplar guide to EHCP from Year 9 

Refusal to issue an EHC Plan.

Between week 13 – 16 of the EHC process you may receive a refusal to Issue letter from the Local Authority.

EHC Timeline available HERE

The decision letter from the local authority will explain your right to mediation and appeal.

Firstly, It’s important to fully understand why the local authority reached this decision. It’s always a good idea to continue talking to the local authority about your concerns, or any questions you have about the reasons they gave in reaching their decision. Further information will help you decide whether to appeal and should you decide to, will be key when building your case.

Before appealing you must firstly consider mediation, this can be really useful for example, where you have some additional information or a new report you would like to share with the local authority.

A refusal to issue pack has been produced by IPSEA which gives a detailed guide for parent carers and young people regarding bringing a refusal to issue case to SENDist Tribunal appeal: Click Here to open and download

What should be included in the final EHCP?

An Education, Health and Care plan (“EHC plan”) is a legal document
which describes a child or young person’s special educational needs, the support they need, and the outcomes they would like to achieve.

The special educational provision (Support provided)  described in an EHC plan must be provided by the child or young person’s local authority (“LA”).

This means an EHCP can give a child or young person extra educational
support. It can also give parents and young people more choice about which school or other setting the child or young person can attend.

An EHC plan can only be issued after a child or young person has gone through the process of an Education, Health and Care needs assessment.

For more information about the Education Health Care Plan:

Bexley IASS: EHC Plans explained

The Bexley Local Offer: EHC Plans.

IPSEA: EHC Plan checklist 


The EHCP Annual Review.

The purpose of an EHC plan Annual Review is to ensure that the contents of the EHC plan are still relevant and are helping your child to make progress towards their aspirations and the outcomes in their plan.

The EHCP must be reviewed at least once a year by the local authority. This is to ensure it stays up-to-date and continues to provide the support the child or young person needs.

At the end of the review, there are only three decisions the LA can make:

  • To maintain the EHC plan in its current format (not make any changes);
  • To amend the EHC plan;
  • To cease the EHC plan if they think it is no longer necessary for it to be in place

The annual review is a  statutory process and a way of reviewing the  needs, provision and outcomes specified in an EHC Plan, and deciding whether these need to change. 

The first review of the EHC plan must be held within 12 months of the EHC plan being finalised. Subsequent reviews must be held within 12 months of the previous review date.

The following steps must take place in an annual review:

  • The LA must consult with the parent of the child or young person (and with the school or institution being attended if there is one) about the EHC plan, and take account of their views, wishes and feelings.
  • An annual review meeting must take place to discuss the EHC plan.
  • Information must be gathered from parents and young people and from professionals about the EHC plan and then circulated two weeks before the meeting.
  • After the meeting a report of what happened must be prepared and circulated to everyone who attended or submitted information to be discussed.
  • After the meeting the LA reviews the EHC plan.
  • The LA must notify the parent of the child or young person of their decision within four weeks of the meeting.

It is important to remember, the Annual Review is a process not an event so all of these steps must be followed in order for an EHC Plan annual review to be completed.

For further information refer to the IPSEA Annual Review checklist

Bexley IASS have developed a Guide for parents, carers and YP preparing for the EHCP Annual review: Preparing for the Annual Review

Requesting an early review of the EHCP

You can request a review of the EHCP at any time, as long as you have a good reason.

You should ask for an early statutory review if you believe:

  • that your child/young person’s education, health or social care needs have changed and are no longer accurately described in the EHC plan; or
  • that the education, health or social care provision in the EHC plan is no longer meeting your child/ young person’s needs.  This includes if you feel that section I (the placement) needs to be reviewed.

Discuss this with your child’s class/ subject teacher and the Head teacher/ Principal of the College about your worries, as well as contacting the local authority.

IPSEA have a model letter for requesting an early review of an EHC plan: IPSEA model letter to request an early review

The Local Authority may disagree with your reasons for an Early Review of the EHCP.

You can contact them to discuss this further, but you have no right of appeal with this decision.

You will need to gather further evidence to support your request or wait until the usual Annual Review date. You could also ask for re-assessment of your child’s needs.

This is helpful if their needs have changed significantly since the EHC plan was first issued, the professional advice used to write the plan needs to be updated, or the provision is no longer meeting needs.

IPSEA have a model letter to request re assessment of needs if this is the case:  IPSEA model letter to request re-assessment. 

If the EHCP is NOT being delivered

Bexley IASS have developed a toolkit for Parent Carers to help you in communicating with the Local Authority and the school if the provision ( Sec F ) is not being delivered.

ie: if your child is not receiving the support specified in Sec F of the EHCP: CLICK HERE

Choosing a school for your child with Special Educational Needs 

Bexley IASS works at  arms-length from the local authority, we offer impartial information, advice and support around Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

Due to our impartiality, we cannot offer advice or opinion on the most suitable school for your child. 

Here is a link to the Bexley Local Offer page on Schools – Specialist Resource Provisions, Special Schools, Out of Borough and Section 41 C&F Act Approved List

Education of children outside their chronological year group

If you are  considering a request for your child to be placed below (deceleration) or above (acceleration) their chronological age group the following factors must be considered: 

  • Is the pupil’s development significantly below the expected level for their age range? 
  • Has the pupil experienced problems which have resulted in being out of education for a substantial period of time? 
  • Has the pupil previously been educated in a different year group from the normal one for their age up until that point? 
  • Is the pupil remarkably gifted and talented? 
  • Was the pupil born prematurely and would they have been admitted into the year ‘below’ if delivered on their due date? 
  • Is the pupil delayed emotionally and therefore cannot make adequate relationships with their peer group?

When you are making a request for your child to be  educated outside of their chronological age group, you will need to have strong evidence.

For children starting a new school: 

The decision-maker, in the case of admission to school, will be the Local Authority (LA). However, the LA must also take account of the views of the headteacher of the school concerned.

For children already on roll at the school: 

In this case, the person making the decision whether or not to move the child out of their chronological year group, will be the Head Teacher. 

What does the Guidance state

The relevant Guidance to look at here is the School Admissions Code 2021 (P.25)This section states the following:

2.18 Parents may seek a place for their child outside of their normal age group, for example, if the child is gifted and talented or has experienced problems such as ill health.

In addition, the parents of a summer born child may choose not to send that child to school until the September following their fifth birthday and may request that they are admitted out of their normal age group – to reception rather than year 1. Admission authorities must make clear in their admission arrangements the process for requesting admission out of the normal age group.

2.19 Admission authorities must make decisions on the basis of the circumstances of each case and in the best interests of the child concerned.
This will include taking account of the parent’s views; information about the child’s academic, social, and emotional development; where relevant, their medical history and the views of a medical professional; whether they have previously been educated out of their normal age group; and whether they may naturally have fallen into a lower age group if it were not for being born prematurely.

They must also take into account the views of the head teacher of the school concerned. When informing a parent of their decision on the year group the child should be admitted to, the admission authority must set out clearly the reasons for their decision.

2.20 Where an admission authority agrees to a parent’s request for their child to be admitted out of their normal age group and, as a consequence of that decision, the child will be admitted to a relevant age group (i.e. the age group to which pupils are normally admitted to the school) the local authority and admission authority must process the application as part of the main admissions round, unless the parental request is made too late for this to be possible, and on the basis of their determined admission arrangements only, including the application of oversubscription criteria where applicable.

They must not give the application lower priority on the basis that the child is being admitted out of their normal age group. Parents have a statutory right to appeal against the refusal of a place at a school for which they have applied. This right does not apply if they are offered a place at the school, but it is not in their preferred age group.

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