EHCP – when should I ask for an assessment?

An EHC plan can run from birth to 25yrs old. For some children, it is clear from birth that they do have Special Educational Needs (SEN) which will require an EHC plan to be written. For example, a child with Down’s Syndrome will have difficulties with speech, which in turn will affect their ability to read and write. The provision of speech and language therapy is not generally available to all pupils in mainstream, so this will be special educational provision (1). A Needs Assessment for an EHC plan can be requested before the child is of compulsory school age.

Where a child is under the age of 2yrs, any educational provision is considered to be special educational provision (2). Health care provision or social care provision which educates or trains a child or young person is to be treated as special educational provision (instead of health care provision or social care provision) (3).

A health care professional, such as a paediatrician, should inform the local authority if they think your child has special educational needs. They must discuss this with you first (4). The local authority might contact you and start a Needs Assessment at that point.

For other children, it may not be until they are older that you become aware that your child may have SEN. The school may have asked to have a meeting with you and your child might be put on ‘SEN Support’. If your child is still not making expected progress with this additional support, you and/or the school can request a Needs Assessment (5). If the school knows what support your child needs, but cannot make that support, they should ask the LA to assess.

For a few families, they may feel that their school doesn’t really see the difficulties their child is having. Some children are very good at ‘holding it together’ at school, but let it all out when they get home, where they feel safe. You can still ask for a Needs Assessment if you think your child may have SEN and it may be necessary to have an EHC plan. It could be more difficult to show this if the school does not see it, but letters from doctors etc will help. A diagnosis is not needed.

If you think your child has SEN and is experiencing exclusions from school, you should ask for a Needs Assessment.


1 Children and Families Act 2014, s21(1)
2 Children and Families Act 2014, s21(2)
3 Children and Families Act 2014, s 21(5)
4 Children and Families Act 2014, s23(2) & (3)
5 Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015, s9.14


SENsational Families is registered in England and Wales under charity number 1173051.
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