There are different ways to ask for a Needs Assessment, for example, you could email the local authority (LA), ask the school to apply, or use the LA’s online form, which can be found on the Norfolk Local Offer (LO) website.
Sometimes a parent (or young person) can feel a bit ‘stuck’ with a complaint. Dispute Resolution (1) could be a possible solution. You do not need to have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan to be able to request Dispute Resolution.
If you are given the right to appeal to the SEND tribunal (SENDIST) by the local authority (LA), you must first consider mediation. The letter from the LA will give the contact details of the mediator. You must contact them within 2 months of the date of that letter if you intend to appeal to the SENDIST (1). The mediation company will want to first talk to you and if you do not want to mediate, they must issue a mediation certificate within 3 working days (2). You do not have to mediate, and it will not reflect on tribunal if you say no. If you chose to use mediation, the meeting must be arranged within 30 days. There is no need to mediate for a school-only appeal.
When you receive your draft EHC plan, you are asked to name a school. There is a general principle that children will be educated where a parent chooses, as long as it ‘efficient’ and avoids unreasonable public expense (1).
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.