Applying for an EHC needs assessment

Before the local authority’s special education 0-25 team (0-25 team) can make an EHC plan for your child or young person, they’ll need to find out whether they need one. To do this they will do an EHC needs assessment.

The local authority must carry out a needs assessment if they believe your child has or may have special educational needs, and they may need special educational support to be made through an EHC plan. In other words, if they think that your child may need an EHC plan to help them achieve their best, they must do an EHC needs assessment.

Having an EHC needs assessment doesn’t always lead to getting an EHC plan though. The information that’s collected as part of an assessment may show ways that the school, college or other provider can meet your child’s needs without an EHC plan.

A needs assessment should be thorough, and the local authority will ask the professionals involved with your child to give information about their needs and the kind of help that would support their learning. If you have asked for an EHC needs assessment before and had your request turned down, you can apply again whenever you wish.

If you had an assessment but a plan wasn’t issued, you can ask for a new assessment if the previous one wasn’t carried out in the past six months. The local authority can do one earlier than that if they feel it’s needed.

You can find out more about applying for a needs assessment in the questions and answers below.

There is also web information about other part of the needs assessment process.

How do I apply for an EHC needs assessment?

As a parent, carer or guardian, you can apply for an EHC needs assessment for your child or young person. You don’t need your child’s nursery, school or college to apply as well, or need to ask for their permission or agreement. But it does help to work together with your child’s school or college whenever you can.

You can apply for an EHC needs assessment by:

  1. Going to the Local Offer website, which is part of Devon County Council where you will find a ‘Request for an Education Health and Care Needs Assessment’ form. Fill out the form and send it to the Special Education 0-25 team (0-25 team).
  2. Writing directly to the 0-25 team at Room L102, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter, EX2 4QD telling them you would like your child to be assessed.
  3. Emailing the 0-25 team with your request to:

Keep a copy of your letter or email or make or save a copy of the ‘Request for an Education Health and Care Needs Assessment’ form before you send it.

Do I have to fill out the request form?

It’s a good idea to use the ‘Request for an Education Health and Care Needs Assessment’ form if you can. The 0-25 team ask you to give them information about your child because it makes it easier to get the needs assessment started. But you don’t have to fill out the form. You can write a letter or an email instead, but you must ask for a needs assessment in writing rather than by phone.

If you’re not able to fill out the request form, you can:

  • Ask a friend of family member to fill out it out with you or for you.
  • Ask a friend or family member to write a letter or email for you, asking for a needs assessment. If they can write down why you think your child needs an assessment too, that will help. There is a letter template you can use on the IPSEA website.
  • Contact DIAS and ask for help to make the request.

How do I fill out the request form?

If you go to the request form on the Local Offer website and click on it, it opens as a ‘Sharepoint’ document. You can either

  • print the form and then fill it out – you’ll be able to only write a small amount in each section, or
  • click on the ‘Open in Word’ option on the top right of the menu – the file will open in your computer or tablet – you can then save the form and type into the boxes, which will get bigger as you add more information.

There are five sections for you to fill in. Answer as many questions as you can. Try and make the information you give brief and to the point. If you can’t answer some of the questions, don’t worry. Do what you can to answer as much as you can. The 0-25 team will contact your child’s nursery, school or college for information too.

If you want to know what to put in each section of the request form, have a look at our How to Guide to Asking for an EHC needs assessment (PDF 214KB) for some tips.

Do I need to send any other information?

Send in copies of any written reports, assessments and other important information from professionals. These should ideally have been written within the last year. Don’t send the original reports as they may not be sent back to you.

You can send in letters or reports from more than a year ago if they have information in them about a diagnosis. This could be something like an autism assessment and diagnosis, or a letter from your child’s doctor which says they have ADHD.

Who applies for an EHC needs assessment if my child is over 16?

If your young person is aged between 16 and 25 they can ask for an EHC needs assessment themselves.

There is a form to fill out which they can find on the Local Offer website. They can do that themselves or with help from you or another trusted adult. The 0-25 team will get in touch directly with any young person who has asked for an EHC needs assessment and send all letters and emails to them. If they need to, 0-25 team staff will also speak directly to your young person about the assessment.

If your young person is between 16 and 25 but is unable to apply for a needs assessment themselves, you can ask for an assessment on their behalf. This would usually happen if your young person is unable to make informed decisions about their education and future. This is mental capacity – their ability to make a specific decision at a specific point in time.

Most of the time it’s a young person’s parent or carer that decides whether they’re able to make decisions. If you’re not sure whether your young person can make decisions about a needs assessment, get advice from your child’s GP. You can find out more about mental capacity on the Preparing for Adulthood website.

What happens after I’ve asked for an assessment?

When you’ve sent in your request, you’ll get a letter from the 0-25 team to tell you they have received it and that the assessment process has started.

If you haven’t had a letter a week after sending your request, contact the 0-25 team and ask them to check whether they’ve got it.

You’ll be given the name of someone in the 0-25 team who you can contact directly about the assessment process.

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Page updated: January 2020 Page due for review: March 2021