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Education, health and care needs assessments - process and timescales

Information on the process and timescales involved in getting an education, health and care needs assessment.

What happens once we have agreed to an education, health and care needs assessment?

A SEND key worker will inform parents or the young person of the decision to proceed with an education, health and care needs assessment within a maximum of six weeks from receiving a request.

During initial contact, the key worker will:

  • Introduce themselves and provide contact details.
     
  • Have a discussion about what the education, health and care needs assessment process and the development of an education, health and care plan will involve.  The range of options that will be available, such as different types of educational institution, options for personal budgets, and how these may differ depending on the type of educational institution for which parents or the young person have expressed a preference.
     
  • Discuss what information may be required for the assessment and which professionals to approach for education, health and care advice.
     
  • Explain the timescales of the assessment process.
     
  • Provide details of independent advice and support:
     
  •  Answer any questions parents or the young person may have.

The intial contact

The SEND key worker will write to parents or the young person to confirm the education, health and care needs assessment process and timescale. Parent or carer views, wishes and feelings, and those of the child or young person, their aspirations, the outcomes they wish to seek and the support they need to achieve them will be sought throughout the process. 

The local authority will support and encourage parent, carers and the child’s or young person’s, involvement throughout the process by:

  • Providing them with access to the relevant information in accessible formats.
     
  • Giving them time to prepare for discussions and meetings.
     
  • Dedicating time in discussions and meetings to hear their views.

Gathering information and advice

The SEND key worker will write to the relevant professionals in order to gather advice about the child’s or young person’s education, health and care needs, desired outcomes and special educational, health and care provision that may be required to meet their identified needs and achieve their desired outcomes. 

Advice and information must be sought as follows:

  • From parents, carers or the young person. 
     
  • Educational advice and information from the manager, headteacher or principal of the early years setting, school or post-16 or other institution attended by the child or young person.
     
  • If the child or young person has either a visual or hearing impairment, or both, the educational advice and information must be given after consultation with a person who is qualified to teach pupils or students with these impairments.
     
  • Medical advice and information from health care professionals with a role in relation to the child’s or young person’s health.
     
  • Psychological advice and information from an educational psychologist. The educational psychologist should consult any other psychologists known to be involved with the child or young person.
     
  • Social care advice and information from or on behalf of the local authority, including, if appropriate, children in need or child protection assessments, information from a looked after child’s care plan, or adult social care assessments for young people over 18. If the child or young person already has a statutory child in need or child protection plan, or an adult social care plan, the information in these should be drawn for the education, health and care needs assessment.
     
  • From Year 9 onwards, advice and information related to provision to assist the child or young person in preparation for adulthood and independent living.
     
  • Advice and information from any person requested by parents, carers or the child or young person, where the local authority considers it reasonable to do so. For example, consulting a GP or other health professional.
     
  • Advice from a youth offending team, where the child or young person is detained in a young offender institution. Where the young person is serving their sentence in the community the local authority should seek such advice where it considers it appropriate.
     
  • Any other advice and information which the local authority considers appropriate for a satisfactory assessment, for example:
     
    • Early help assessment
       
    • In the case of children of members of the armed forces, from the children’s education advisory service 
       
    • In the case of a looked after child, from the virtual school headteacher in the authority that looks after the child and the child’s designated teacher and the designated doctor or nurse for looked after children.

Advice and information requested by the local authority must be provided within six weeks of the request, and should be provided more quickly wherever possible, to enable a timely process.

The local authority must not seek further advice if such advice has already been provided (for any purpose) and the person providing the advice, the local authority and the child’s parent or the young person are all satisfied that it is sufficient for the assessment process. In making this decision, the local authority and the person providing the advice should ensure the advice remains current.

Deciding whether to issue an education health and care plan

Following the initial stage, the SEND key worker will present parents and the child’s views, wishes and feelings, and all the information and advice gathered during the education, health and care needs assessment to a multi-professional panel chaired by a senior officer from the SEND assessment and planning service. 

In deciding whether to make special educational provision in accordance with an EHC Plan, the panel will consider all the information gathered during the education, health and care needs assessment. Where, despite appropriate assessment and provision, the child or young person is not progressing, or not progressing sufficiently well, the local authority should consider what further provision may be needed. The local authority should take into account:

  • Whether the special educational provision required to meet the child or young person’s needs can reasonably be provided from within the resources normally available to mainstream early years providers, schools and post-16 institutions.
     
  • Whether it may be necessary for the local authority to make special educational provision in accordance with an education, health and care plan.

Decisions are made based on a combination of the factors stated above, as well as the detailed threshold criteria.

The SEND key worker will inform parents or the young person whether it has been decided to issue an education, health and care plan or not as soon as practicable and at the latest within 16 weeks of the initial request or of the child or young person having otherwise been brought to the local authority’s attention.

Decision not to issue an education health and care plan

Where, in the light of an education, health and care needs assessment, the local authority decides that an education, health and care plan is not necessary, it will notify the parent or young person, the early years provider, school or post-16 institution currently attended, and the health service and give the reasons for its decision. 

The local authority will provide a person-centred plan based on the written feedback collected during the assessment process, which parents, the young person, early years provider, school or post-16 institution can understand and may find useful, including evidence and reports from professionals.

What information would a person-centred plan contain?

It will specify the outcomes sought for the child or young person that can be achieved through special educational provision made by the early years provider, school or post-16 institution and co-ordinated support from other agencies.

This provision will be made by using the resources available to meet special educational needs (SEN) within mainstream provision (SEN support) and other support set out in the Local Offer. 

The SEND key worker will also inform parents, carers or the young person in writing of:

  • their right to appeal the decision and the time limit for doing so, 
     
  • the requirement for them to consider mediation (should they wish to appeal), and
     
  • the availability of information, advice and support services.

Decision to issue an education, health and care plan

If it is necessary for special educational provision to be made in accordance with an education, health and care plan, the SEND key worker will prepare a plan and notify parents or the young person and give the reasons for its decision.

What do I need to do when the draft education, health and care plan arrives?

The SEND key worker will send the draft education, health and care plan (including the appendices containing the advice and information gathered during the education, health and care needs assessment) to parents or to the young person.

They will have at least 15 days to give views and make representations on the content. When the SEND key worker sends the draft education, health and care plan it will explain:

  • During this period, parents or the young person’s right to request that a particular school or other institution, or type of school or other institution, be named in the plan.
     
  • Advise parents or the young person where they can find information about the schools and colleges that are available for the child or young person to attend, through the Local Offer.
     
  • Whether any personal budget should be specified in the draft plan following a request by parents or the young person.
     
  • If a parent or a young person makes a request for a particular nursery, school or post-16 institution to be named in the plan, the SEND key worker will consult with this setting by sending to the governing body, principal or proprietor of the school or college the child or young person’s draft education, health and care plan. It is also possible to send any of the appendices if required. The nursery, school or college should respond within 15 days. 

If parents or the young person does not make a request for a particular nursery, school or college, or they do so and their request is not met, the local authority must specify mainstream provision in the education, health and care plan.

There are numerous examples and statutory obligations that govern this process and parents or the young person should discuss their options with the SEND key worker or seek advice from SENDIASS - Staffordshire Family Partnership, or advocate.

When will the final education, health and care plan be issued?

The SEND key worker will issue the final education, health and care plan as soon as possible and at the latest within 20 weeks of the initial request to conduct an education, health and care needs assessment. 

Parents or the young person will be informed if any exemptions to the timescales apply so that they are aware of, and understand, the reason for any delays.

Local authorities should aim to keep delays to a minimum and as soon as the conditions that led to an exemption no longer apply the local authority should endeavour to complete the process as quickly as possible. All remaining elements of the process must be completed within their prescribed periods, regardless of whether exemptions have delayed earlier elements.

What if I want to appeal the decision?

Parents or the young person will be informed of their right to appeal the decision and the time limit for doing so, of the requirement for them to consider mediation should they wish to appeal, and the availability of information, advice and support services.

They will also be told what to do if they wish to raise concerns about the health and social care parts of the education, health and care plan.

Who else will receive a copy of the final education, health and care plan?

As well as parents or the young person, the final education, health and care plan must also be issued to the governing body, proprietor or principal of any school, college or other institution named in the EHC plan, and to the relevant clinical commissioning group, or where relevant, NHS England. 

Where a nursery, school or college is named in an education, health and care plan, they must admit the child or young person. Some exceptions apply to this rule. These can be discussed with your SEND key worker or independent supporter).

We have developed a flowchart that provides a visual representation of the education, health and care needs assessment and an education, health and care plan template.

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