Requests for an Education, Health and Care Plan Needs Assessment

What is an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment? 

An EHC needs assessment, sometimes called a statutory SEN assessment, is a detailed assessment to find out exactly what a child or young person’s special educational needs are and the support they may need in order to learn, progress and achieve. 

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The Local Authority would expect to carry out a statutory Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessment for children and young people who: 

  • have special educational needs (SEN) that are long term, severe and complex 
  • have not responded to sustained, relevant and purposeful measures taken by the school, setting and external agencies 
  • need SEN provision which cannot reasonably be provided within the resources normally available to mainstream schools and settings.

What is a Special Educational Need (SEN)? 

A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her. For definitions of SEN and more information on the different types of Special Educational Need, visit Cornwall SEND Local Offer's 'What is SEND? webpage

An EHC needs assessment is an opportunity for multiple agencies to define an individual's needs and, if required, draw up an Education Health and Care plan (EHC plan). When it does not, the information gathered can be used to inform SEN support provided by the educational setting.

What is an EHC plan?

An Education Health and Care (EHC) plan is a legal document for children and young people in education, training or an apprenticeship, who need more support than is available through SEN Support.

The aspirations, needs and outcomes for a child/young person are central to an EHC plan. 

Cornwall Local Authority will consult with the child or young person and their parents throughout the assessment process and production of an EHC plan so that they are at the heart of these processes and inform the decision making (see SEND Code of Practice, p.147).

The purpose of an EHC plan is to: 

  • Record the views, interests and aspirations of the child and their parents, or the young person
  • Specify the child's or young person's special educational needs. 
  • Outline the child's or young person’s health and social care needs which relate to their SEN and necessary provision to meet their needs 
  • Describe the outcomes spught for the child or young person. These should focus on education and training, health and care outcomes that will enable the child or young person to progress in their learning and, as they get older, to be well prepared for adulthood. 
  •  Detail the SEN provision required to meet the outcomes sought for the child or young person. 

Requests for assessments are usually made by the educational setting, school or college, when the family, the educational setting and professionals involved are all agreed that needs of an individual child or young person can no longer be met at SEN Support.

Professionals or parents can make a request, or the young person in their own right once they are 16 years old.

How long will the EHC Needs Assessment process take? 

The 20 week process starts when the Statutory SEN service receive a request. To find out more about Cornwall's Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment 20 week process in the Guidance resources below or on our SEND Forms and Guidance webpage.

Who decides whether an EHC needs assessment takes place? 

The decision whether or not to start an EHC needs assessment is made by  the Statutory SEN panel, of professionals.

The Statutory SEN Casework officer will inform the young person and/or their parents/carers of the panel’s decision within 6 weeks from when the request is received by the local authority. If the decision is not to go ahead with an EHC needs assessment, the Statutory SEN Casework officer will explain the reasons and include these in the decision letter which will be sent out. This information is also sent to the child or young person’s main educational setting and/or the person who made the request.

Educational settings

Educational settings in partnership with the young person and/or their parents/carers, can request an EHC statutory assessment by completing the ‘Request for an Education Health and Care Needs Assessment’ form and appending relevant up to date evidence.

Download the 'Request for an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment' Form 

The young person, their parent/carers and other people who know the child or young person

Ideally, when a young person and/or their parent/carers want to request an EHC needs assessment this is done in partnership with an educational setting e.g. through discussion with the setting's Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO).

The young person and/or their parents/carers and other people who know the child or young person may request an EHC needs assessment independently of an educational setting.

It is not necessary to complete the 'Request for an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment Form. To make a request, people should email the Statutory SEN Service at,  giving reasons why they think am EHC Needs Assessment is necessary. 

Guidance for requesting a statutory assessment 

Visit our SEN Forms and Guidance page for

  • A range of useful guidance about the EHC needs assessment process
  • Details of how parents children and young people can contribute to the assessment
  • Guidance and forms for requesting an EHC needs assessment 

Visit our Access, Plan, Do, Review cycle page for information about how to evidence individual's progress at SEN Support.  



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