The process of an EHC needs assessment is exactly the same whatever the age of the child or young person.

Parents/carers can request an EHC needs assessment for a child who is below compulsory school age and the only test the local authority (“LA”) must apply is the one contained in s.36(8) CAFA 2014. Sometimes parents come to our helplines because they think that a child needs to have been in school or nursery for a certain amount of time before an EHC needs assessment can be requested: this is not true.

The legal definition of what constitutes a special educational need is slightly different for children aged under compulsory school age. The LA is required to look forward to whether the child is likely to have a learning difficulty or disability when they are of compulsory school age or would be likely to without special educational provision.

The definition of special educational provision is also slightly different for those aged under 2 – it means educational provision of any kind (so it’s not compared to what might be available in settings for under 2s).

Remember, health care and social care provision which “educates or trains” is capable of being special educational provision. This can include things like speech and language therapy.