Criteria for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessment or EHC Plan
The majority of children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities will have their needs met by local mainstream early years providers, schools or colleges. Some children and young people, however, may require an EHC needs assessment in order for the local authority (LA) to decide whether it is necessary for it to make provision in accordance with an EHC plan.
The Children and Families Act 2014 provides that the LA must carry out an EHC needs assessment if the child or young person has, or may have, special educational needs, and it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for them in accordance with an EHC plan. The SEND Code of Practice 2015 advises that the EHC needs assessment should not normally be the first step in the process, rather it should follow on from planning already undertaken with parents and young people in conjunction with an early years provider, school, post-16 institution or other provider.
In considering whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary, the LA will 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 LA should take into account a wide range of evidence and 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
An EHC needs assessment will not always lead to an EHC plan. The information gathered during an EHC needs assessment may indicate ways in which the school, college or other provider can meet the child or young person’s needs without an EHC plan. If, however, in the light of an EHC needs assessment, it is necessary for special educational provision to be made in accordance with an EHC plan, the LA must prepare one.