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Information & advice

EHC Needs Assessments

An Education Health and Care Needs Assessment is a process that has to happen before a child or young person can get an EHC Plan. In this guide we explain how to get an EHC Needs Assessment and what the process involves.

What is an EHC needs assessment?

An Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment is used by a local authority to assess if a child needs an EHC plan.

When is an EHC needs assessment necessary?

Most children and young people with SEND can be provided with the right level of support without the need for an EHC plan. This is called SEND Support.

A local authority must carry out an EHC needs assessment if a child’s special educational needs may require more support that a mainstream education setting can normally provide.

Who can ask for an EHC needs assessment?

  • The early years setting, school or post 16 setting, once this has been discussed with parents or carers.
  • Parents by writing to the local authority.
  • A young person over the age of 16 but under the age of 25.

We have a sample request letter and guide for parents and young people at the bottom of this page.

What happens during an EHC needs assessment?

Once the local authority have received an EHC needs assessment request they will review the information provided and request additional evidence if needed.

The local authority gathers information on a child or young person’s needs from:

  • The child and young person
  • The child or young person’s parent or career
  • The nursery, school, college that your child attends
  • Educational psychology
  • Other professionals as appropriate including Speech and Language or occupational therapy
  • Health professionals involved with the child or young person
  • Social care services
  • Advice and information requested by the local authority should be provided within six weeks.

What happens after an EHC needs assessment?

If the local authority decides to issue an EHC plan you will receive a draft plan. Find out more about draft EHC plans here.

The local authority may refuse to issue an EHC plan. This is usually because there is either not enough evidence that an EHC plan is needed or that they feel the child or young person’s needs can be met in other ways, for example through additional support provided by the school. Parents, carers and young people over the age of 16 have the right to appeal this decision and you can find out more about how to do this here.

More information

We have a range of further resources for you to download that may be useful.

In-depth guide

Our in-depth guide to EHC Needs Assessments


A handy infographic that you can download and print out summarising some key points about EHC Needs Assessments.

EHC Timeline

Our timeline shows the various steps involved in getting an EHCP and how long they should take.

Template letter

A template letter you can adapt to request an EHC Needs Assessment.