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Assessments, Education, Health and Care Plans

The majority of children and young people with special education needs (SEN) or disabilities will have the support they need within local mainstream early years settings, schools or colleges. This is called SEN Support.

For some children and young people, although they are receiving support in their current education setting, there may be concerns about the progress they are making.

Some of these children and young people may require an EHC needs assessment so it is clear what their special educational needs are and then the Local Authority can decide whether it is necessary for the child or young person to receive support that is not normally available to them through an EHC Plan.

What is an Education, Health & Care Plan (EHC Plan)?

An Education, Health & Care Plan or EHC Plan is a document which sets out the education, health and social care needs of a child or young person, for some this may be up to age 25, and the support that is necessary to help them to progress and achieve their outcomes.

I'm thinking about requesting an EHC needs assessment

Who should I speak to?

Speak to everyone who is currently supporting the child or young person to make sure that everything that could be available is in place. Advice, guidance and support is available to education settings and providers without the need for an EHC Plan.

Normally the education setting or provider will be asked to provide this information and they only have a few weeks to share this information with the Local Authority so it is important that everyone works together as soon as possible.

Who can request an EHC Needs Assessment?

The following people can request an EHC needs assessment for a child or young person aged between 0 and 25:

  • The child's parent
  • A young person over the age of 16 but under the age of 25 themselves if they understand it sufficiently well – otherwise the parent or representative can make the request on a young person's behalf
  • A person acting on behalf of a school or post-16 institution

In addition, anyone else can bring a child or young person who has (or may have) SEN to the attention of the local authority, particularly where they think an EHC needs assessment may be necessary. This could include, for example, foster carers, health and social care professionals, early years practitioners, youth offending teams or probation services.

When should I request an EHC Needs Assessment?

When a child or young person has a learning difficulty or a disability and is not making the progress expected with the support that is being put in place or the parents of the child or the young person (or the young person themselves) believe that the education setting or provider is not able to provide the help and support which is needed.

A request for an EHC Needs Assessment will be considered if the child or young person has or may have special educational needs – it does not apply where there are only health and/or care needs.

When should I hear back?

The Local Authority must reply within six weeks. We will always reply to the parent or young person – even where the request was made by someone else.

If an EHC Needs Assessment is requested, what can happen?

The Local Authority will ask for some information from children, young people and their families and the current or most recent education settings or providers so they can make a decision as to whether an EHC Needs Assessment is required.

This decision will be made within six weeks of the request for assessment being made.

A decision not to assess may be given, and the reasons why will be explained, including recommendations about what the education setting could also do to support the child or young person.

If an EHC Needs Assessment is agreed, what happens next?

If the Local Authority decides that an assessment is required, they will ask for assessments, information and reports which will identify the child's or young person's special education needs and any additional support they may require.

From the assessment information received, the Local Authority will consider whether the support the child’s or young person's special educational needs is additional or different to the support normally available through SEN Support in mainstream education settings.

A decision will be made as to whether to issue an EHC Plan.

Contact the Family Services Team

Family Services have seven locality-based team as follows:

At Riverside, Lowestoft, there is one team supporting:

  • Lowestoft & Waveney (01502 674721)

To email this team, contact 

At Endeavour House, Ipswich, there are four teams supporting:

  • Suffolk Coastal (01473 265158)
  • Ipswich North & East (01473 265158)
  • Ipswich South & West (01473 263974)
  • South Suffolk (01473 265199)

To email teams in the Endeavour House base, contact

At West Suffolk House, Bury St Edmunds, there are two teams supporting:

  • West Suffolk (01284 758431)
  • Bury St Edmunds and Central Suffolk (01284 758809)

To email teams in the West Suffolk House base, contact

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