An EHC (Education, Health and Care) needs assessment is not just an educational assessment. It is an assessment of the education, health care and social care needs of the child or young person. This means that consideration must be given to whether a social care assessment or additional health assessments are needed.
Under SEN Regulation 6 (1) an LA must as a minimum seek information and advice on a child or young person’s needs, the provision to meet those needs and outcomes expected to be achieved from the following:
(a) the child’s parent or the young person;
(b) educational advice (usually from head teacher or principal of post-16 institution);
(c) medical advice and information from a health care professional;
(d) psychological advice and information from an educational psychologist;
(e) advice and information in relation to social care;
(f) advice and information from any other person the local authority thinks is appropriate;
(g) where the child or young person is in or beyond year 9, advice and information in relation to provision to assist the child or young person in preparation for adulthood and independent living; and
(h) advice and information from any person the child’s parent or young person reasonably requests that the local authority seek advice from.
Under Regulation 6 (1) (h), a parent or young person can ask the Local Authority to seek advice from anyone within education, health or social care and as long as it is a reasonable request the LA must do so. This can include a speech and language therapist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist or from CAMHS (child, adolescent, mental health services). Once requested the health authority has 6 weeks to respond. A request will be reasonable if a child/young person has been identified as needing an assessment already – such as where they are on a waiting list – or where the has school/college has said it may be needed.
Under Regulation 6 (2), if a child or young person is hearing impaired and/or visually impaired the educational advice must come from a suitably qualified person.
The Local Authority does not have to seek new advice from any of these individual professionals where it already exists – that is, where it has previously been provided for any purpose. This exception will only apply if the person providing that advice, the Local Authority and the child’s parent or the young person, are satisfied that the existing advice is sufficient for the purposes of an EHC needs Assessment. In making that decision (as to whether the advice is sufficient) parents/young people whether should check that it is up to date and that it reflects the child/ young person accurately. As a rough guide, an Educational Psychologist report over 1 to 2 years old will not usually be sufficient.
The Local Authority has the legal duty to carry out the assessment process. This duty cannot be delegated to a school/college nor can the school/college be required to pay for all/any element of it such as the educational psychologist’s report.
Our Tribunal Helpline Gives next step advice on SEN appeals and disability discrimination claims to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. When you call we will also assess whether you need casework support. Please click here to book an appointment to get one of our advisers to call you back.