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Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessments and Plans

Most children with special educational needs will receive the help they need through the Graduated Approach to Support for Children with SEND

If the Graduated Approach has been implemented effectively but the child or young person continues to struggle to make expected progress, the educational setting and/or parents may decide that an application for an EHC needs assessment is required.  This could result in an EHC plan.

An EHC needs assessment involves gathering information about a child or young person’s needs and the support they require. Information is shared so that families and young people don’t have to repeat the same information to different agencies. Children, young people and their families are at the centre of the assessment and planning process. The whole process takes up to 20 weeks.

An EHC plan is a detailed plan that brings together a child or young person’s educational, health and care needs into a single legal document. It can cover people from birth up to the age of 25 if they remain in further education and training.

Only a very small percentage of children and young people with SEND require an EHC plan.

The decision about whether an EHC needs assessment is needed must be made within 6 weeks of the local authority receiving the application. To inform its decision, the local authority will expect to see evidence of the action taken by the education setting as part of SEN support.

Not all applications for EHC needs assessments result in an assessment, and not all EHC assessments lead to an EHC plan. The information gathered may indicate ways in which the school, college or other provider can meet the child or young person’s needs without the need for an EHC needs assessment or EHC plan.

A timeline of the EHC assessment process can be found in the Downloads section on the right-hand side of this page.

The following people have the right to request an EHC needs assessment:

  • The child’s parent
  • A young person over the age of 16 but under the age of 25
  • Children and young people aged 10-18 in youth custodial institutions
  • 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) SEND to the attention of the local authority. This could include:

  • Foster carers
  • Health and social care professionals
  • Early years practitioners
  • Educational psychologists
  • Youth offending teams, probation services and those responsible for education in custody

Where possible, this should be done with the family and/or young person’s knowledge and agreement.

Parents, carers and young people over 16 can request an EHC needs assessment by contacting the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Service for an application form by phone on 0115 876 4300, by email at or by writing to the SEN Service, Building 5, Woolsthorpe Depot, Woolsthorpe Close, Bilborough, Nottingham NG8 3JP. There is also a link to the form in the Downloads section on the right-hand side of this page.

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