Education, health and care needs

Education, health and care needs assessment

Most children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities will have their needs met through mainstream education, such as early years' education, schools and colleges.

Information and advice

There are several ways you can get information and advice if you're worried your child may have special educational needs.

In places of education, you should ask to speak with the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) at your child's nursery, school or college. They will be able to discuss your concerns in detail. If appropriate, they will agree an individual support plan for your child.

If your child needs more specialised help than is available at their place of education, we can carry out an education, health and care needs assessment. The assessment will see whether the child or young person needs an education, health and care (EHC) plan.

Education, health and care (EHC) plans

EHC plans are for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through mainstream SEN support. EHC plans:

  • bring together education, health and social needs in a single plan
  • set out the additional support to meet those needs

EHC plans are family-focused, with emphasis on:

  • individual goals for children
  • improving children's opportunities for education and employment
  • introducing the opportunity for personal budgets to support these plans

Requesting an assessment

Requests for an education, health and care needs assessment can come from:

  • a parent or carer
  • the young person themselves, if over the age of 16
  • the school or other education provider
  • another agency – for example, social services or the health authority

Parents, carers or young people wishing to request an assessment should email our team. Please give details of why you fee an assessment is needed.

Special Education Needs team


School, agencies and other education providers should contact us to ask for an EHC needs assessment request form.

When we receive an assessment request

When we receive a request for an EHC needs assessment, we will contact services that know the child – for example, health, social care, education psychology – to gather relevant evidence.

Within 4 weeks of receiving the request, we will present the request and evidence to a specialist panel called an 'Initiation Panel'. The panel will consider all the information available and decide whether an assessment is needed.

Within 2 weeks of the panel meeting, we will give notice of the panel's decision to the person or organisation that requested the assessment.

If a parent, carer or young person disagrees with the panel's decision, they have a right to appeal.

Carrying out the assessment

If the panel agrees to an assessment, the SENCO at the child's nursery, school or college will work with the child or young person and their parent or carers to create an EHC plan.