You can request an EHC needs assessment yourself and should do so. There is a model letter to help you do this which can be found here. As set out on our page about asking for an EHC needs assessment, under the law the local authority (“LA”) must carry out a EHC needs assessment if a child has or may have SEN and it may be necessary for the LA to make special educational provision for the child by making an education, health and care (“EHC”) plan. Once you send in the request the LA must respond to it within 6 weeks.

Despite the low threshold of the legal test for assessment, many LAs operate policies which set the threshold higher than the law. Common examples include policies which require a report from an educational psychologist or other professional, or requiring the parent or school to demonstrate that a particular sum of money (often £6,000) has already been spent on the child’s SEN provision. These are unlawful requirements.

Schools do not often know the law surrounding this area so often believe the LA’s policy ‘trumps’ when it does not.

If the LA refuses to assess they must detail your right to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) (“the SEND Tribunal”) in the refusal letter. Refusal to assess appeals are decided on the paperwork so you do not have to go to a hearing. The SEND Tribunal must decide the case based on the law and not what the LA’s policy says. The deadline for appealing is two months from the date of the decision or one month from the date of the mediation certificate, whichever date falls the latest. You can find out more about appealing to the SEND Tribunal here.

Refusal to assess appeals are one of the most common appeals made to the SEND Tribunal and they have a high success rate in favour of parents and young people.