When should I request an EHC needs assessment?

  • Whenever a child or young person has a learning difficulty or a disability which is holding them back at school or college; and
  • The parents of the child or the young person (or the young person themselves) believe that the school or college is not able to provide the help and support which is needed,a request should be made to the Local Authority (LA) for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment.
  • You can do this at any time.

For children under 16 the parent makes the request.

This includes children from 0 to 5 where parents should make a request if they believe that the child will need extra help when school starts.

In the case of a young person (over 16 and up to 25) they can make the request themselves if they understand it sufficiently well themselves – otherwise the parent can make the request on a young person’s behalf.

Remember you can only ask for an EHC needs assessment if the child or young person has or may have educational needs – it does not apply where there are only health and/or care needs no matter how severe.

Do I need to provide a report from an Education Psychologist and/or evidence that the school/college has spent £6,000 on the child’s SEN provision?

No, this is a common misconception.  Please see our fact sheet on triggering a EHC needs assessment  common-misconception-test-for-triggering-ehc-needs-assessment

Should I speak to the school or college first?

Yes, definitely. Speak to your child’s class/ subject teacher and the head teacher or to the principal of the College the young person is attending about your worries before writing to the LA.

What if the school or college offers to write on my behalf?

Anyone acting on behalf of a school or post 16 institution is able to write and request an EHC needs assessment, but if you do it yourself you can be sure that the request has definitely been made, and you will know when it has been made. However, if the school or college is willing, you could ask them to write a letter which supports your parental application.

Who should I write to?

Write to the top person at the LA, usually called the Director of Education or Head of Children’s Services. You can find out what the top person is called in your LA by asking at the school or college. Your LA’s “Local Offer” should also clearly set out how a request can be made. This can be found on your LA’s website.

When should I hear back?

The LA must reply within six weeks. They will always reply to you as a parent or young person – even where the request was made by the school or college.

Remember: Always ask in writing. Keep a copy of your letter. Make a note of the six week deadline for the LA’s reply. Ring IPSEA if you don’t get a reply after six weeks or if you want further advice.



Thank you IPSEA – Really useful website.  Invaluable help to parents