What is an EHC Needs Assessment?
Most children and young people who have special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) will have their needs met in local mainstream early years settings, schools or colleges. Every educational setting in Wiltshire must provide high quality teaching that is personalised and age appropriate for all children and young people, including those with SEND.
The SEND Code of Practice 2015 emphasises the need for a graduated approach to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND through early and relevant intervention.
This means that the education setting will follow a series of 'assess, plan, do, review' cycles using their own resources. The educational setting will keep records of the support delivered, using documents such as a 'SEND Support Plan'.
If the child or young person under 25 has still not made expected progress, then a request for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessment may be considered. This will help the local authority decide if it is necessary to provide support using an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
Update from the SEND Service October 2023
0 - 25 SEND new ways of working
From 1 October 2023 we are making some changes to the way we provide our SEND service which we believe will help improve how we work with you.
We're making the changes after feedback received from families, carers and others using the service as well as our own self-evaluation for how we can most eﬀectively support and communicate with you and provide advice in a timely manner. We have listened to how important it is for children and young people to have an allocated lead worker in Wiltshire, as well as clear communications, whilst ensuring the SEND team are as accessible as possible.
We will be introducing four geographical teams (North, East, South and West) as well as maintaining a dedicated Assessment team, and Preparation for Adulthood team/Post 16.
For more information visit:
The following people can ask the local authority to conduct a statutory needs assessment for a child or young person:
- the child's parent or carer
- a young person over the age of 16 but under 25
- a professional acting on behalf of an education setting, such as an early years provider, a school, or post-16 setting*
- other people who know the child/young person well, such as a health or social care professional*
*This should be done with the knowledge and agreement of the parents or young person, where possible.
If you are the young person or the parent / carer
The young person, their parent or carers, and other people who know the child/young person well, may request an EHC needs assessment in writing, by post or email.
We always recommend that you speak to the SENCo in your child's school or educational setting before you ask the local authority to consider a request to start a needs assessment. Although a parent carer or young person can request an assessment, where possible it is better that an educational setting makes the request. This is because they will have the evidence that they have used the graduated approach to SEN Support.
If you are considering requesting an EHC Needs Assessment, you should contact the SEND Team to discuss the request on 01225 712620. SEND Lead Workers can help and advise you on next steps.
The form below can be used by parents to request an assessment.
You can also write to the SEND Team on how to request an assessment using these contact details:
Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Service
Phone: 01225 712620
If you are a school or educational setting
Educational settings such as schools, in partnership with the young person and/or their parents or carers, can request an EHC Needs Assessment using the Wiltshire Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment request e-form and by adding relevant up-to-date evidence.
The e-form has a checklist for you to complete prior to starting the request, to make sure you have all the evidence to hand.
Use the 'report this page' feature if you have issues as this will help us develop and improve this system. To discuss the process before making a referral you can call the SEND team by phoning 01225 712620.
Such requests should be discussed at the review meeting as part of the Assess, Plan, Do, Review cycle. Parent/carers and professionals involved in the support for the child/young person should be invited to the meeting.
In considering whether an assessment is necessary, the local authority must have regard to the views, wishes and feelings of the child and the parent or the young person. Here is a guidance document with suggestions on how to gain the views of the child or young person as part of the assessment process. There is also a template that could be used with the child:
Click the link below to access the template.
Walk through video for schools and settings
We have made a walk-through video on how to complete the e-form for schools and settings to watch before making a request for an EHC needs assessment.
The phone number referenced in this video to discuss requests has recently changed and the SEND team now uses 01225 712620.
This is the parent or carer consent form which must be signed by the parent and uploaded as part of the submission. Schools and settings should ensure that the parent/carer is aware of the data protection statement and that this is giving consent to share information with other agencies as part of the decision-making process.
The local authority must have regard to the views, wishes and feelings of the child/young person in making the decision whether to agree to the needs assessment. Within the e-form, schools and settings have the option to upload their own document (such as a one-page profile) or they can complete the template below. The guidance document below also gives other ideas on how to gain the child's views.
The local authority must also have regard to the views, wishes and feelings of the parent/carer in making the decision whether to agree to the needs assessment for a school aged child. Within the e-form the school or setting has the option to complete a parent/carer sub-form, upload their own document (such as a letter from a parent or questionnaire) or they can complete the template below.
The Wiltshire SEND Support Plan is a document that can be used for children and young people with identified SEND, to plan outcome-focused and person-centred support, concentrating on individual needs and priorities. It has information about the child's needs and the support they are getting and should be written and reviewed with the parent carer and young person. It reflects the four-stage cycle of 'Assess, Plan, Do, Review' and can help co-ordinate support if there are several professionals involved.
Not every child with SEND will require a SEND Support Plan. It is not a statutory document and some schools and settings will have their own approach to this level of support. As part of the request for a statutory EHC assessment, schools and settings are asked to provide examples of their approach to the assessment, planning, action and review of a child's needs and progress.
Here is some writing guidance for schools and early years settings that may help when completing the SEND Support Plan template:
A costed provision map is necessary as part of an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment request and as part of an annual review of an existing EHC plan. It is a detailed breakdown of costs which show how a school is following the graduated approach, provides a clear record of the provision that is in place for the individual child/young person and the costs involved.
If you have submitted a request using the e-form, you will get an automatic receipt by email and a copy of the form. If you have submitted a word-processed form, a representative from the SEN Team will confirm receipt of the request by email / letter.
The local authority has six weeks from receiving the request to decide whether to go ahead with the EHC needs assessment.
The request will be considered by the weekly Discussion and Decision Group Meeting (DaD1).
Early Help Contact as part of an Education Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA)
Wiltshire Council will be offering a new approach to providing support and advice to parents and carers and young people as part of the Education Health and Care Needs Assessment.
An early help adviser will make contact by phone and have a conversation focussing on a child or young person's social care needs. They will discuss what is working well, what needs require additional support and share information on various services or organisations which may be helpful. This conversation will be entirely voluntary so people can choose to take part or decline the invitation to talk. If the adviser cannot reach a family they will be sent a letter in the post. Wiltshire Council is taking this approach to help children and young people with SEND access information and advice early.
This service will only be available for parents/carers and young people who are not already working with a social services professional. This new approach started on 1 December 2022. The new approach is called Early Help Contact and will be used as part of the Education Health and Care Needs Assessment. Wiltshire Council Early Help Hub is in partnership with the SEND service in adopting this approach.
This group meeting is chaired by an SEN Team manager and is held weekly. The panel has representation from the SEND Service, the educational psychology service, specialist education services and school SENCos. Other professionals from social care and health services may also attend.
The group will need to see written evidence that the school or setting has put in place all actions and interventions at the SEN support stage and how these actions have been monitored. The criteria used for this is in line with the SEND Code of Practice. They will also want to know about the parent or carers views, wishes and aspirations and the child's or young person's views.
Following the meeting, the SEND Lead Worker who is overseeing the request will contact the parent or carer in writing, or the young person over 16 (if they made the request), to let them know the group's decision. The letter will always offer the opportunity to speak with the parents and with the setting to discuss the decision and next steps.
The local authority has a quality assurance process to make sure that decision-making is consistent and fair and in the best interests of the child or young person. Appointed parent representatives from Wiltshire Parent Carer Council and school SENCos support the process and attend panels. The moderation will not alter existing decisions but will provide feedback to the SEN team on the decision-making processes in place.
The education health and care (EHC) needs assessment process can take up to 20 weeks. An assessment does not always lead to an EHC plan but will provide more information about the child's needs and the support needed to meet their needs.
If the DaD1 meeting described above decides to carry out an EHC needs assessment, we will move onto the next stage.
Within 16 weeks of the request, we will ask for advice and information about your child's needs, the provision required to meet their needs and the outcomes they should be working towards. We will get this from:
- you (the parent) or young person (aged 16 to 25)
- the education setting
- health care professionals working or supporting the child or young person
- an educational psychologist
- social care services
- any person requested by you or young person where we agree that it is reasonable to do so
- any other advice and information that we may consider appropriate.
This advice and information must be provided within 6 weeks of us requesting it and more quickly wherever possible.
By 16 weeks of the request the decision on whether to issue an EHC plan will be made by a multi-agency group called 'Discussion and Decision Group 2'.
This group meeting is chaired by an SEN Service manager and is held weekly. The meeting has representation from the SEND Service, the educational psychology service, specialist education services and school SENCos. Other professionals from social care and health services will also attend.
The group will look at the information gathered over the assessment stage. They will look at the written evidence that the school or setting has put in place all actions and interventions at the SEN support stage and how these actions have been monitored. The criteria used for this is in line with the SEND Code of Practice. They will also want to know about the parent or carer's views, wishes and aspirations and the child's or young person's views.
Following the meeting, the SEND Lead Worker will contact the parent or carer in writing or a young person over 16 if they may the request, to let them know the group's decision. The letter will always offer the opportunity to speak with the parents and with the setting to discuss the decision and next steps.
This group meeting is chaired by the Head of SEND and Inclusion or delegated senior manager and is held fortnightly. The meeting has representation from leaders within the SEND Service, educational psychologists, special school leadership and health professionals. When there is a particular case based need for representation by specialist and professional teams within education, health and social care there is a wider membership that can be called upon.
The group makes decisions regarding high-cost specialist educational provision and placement requests, as part of an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP). This might, for example, be about a child or young person who is currently in a specialist provision but where more funding is required to support their very complex needs, or it may be regarding a request for specialist placement at an independent specialist provision.
The group will look at a range of evidence and views from the family, from specialists involved in the child or young persons' support and information from the current educational setting. Where the request is for the child or young person to be educated away from home, the group will ensure that all local solutions have been explored.
Following the meeting, the SEND Lead Worker will feedback to the young person and/or their parent/carer regarding the outcome. The letter will always offer the opportunity to speak with an officer regarding the decision and to offer support with next steps.
An EHC plan may be needed if your child or young person's needs cannot be met through the support they are currently getting in their mainstream educational setting. Your education setting will have done everything they can and your child or young person still requires additional support. It may be that, despite the support provided, your child or young person is not making progress in their learning or development, or that the progress they are making is due to significant levels of support.
If we decide to issue an EHC plan, we will notify you and young person and everyone who was notified of our decision to consider whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary. We will allow enough time to prepare the draft plan and issue the final plan within the 20-week time limit.
An Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) sets out clearly the parent, child or young person's views and aspirations for the future. It includes information and advice from professionals from education, health or social care, who know or are working with the child or young person. It describes the child or young person's special educational needs and their strengths. It states the outcomes that the EHC plan will support them to achieve. It also sets out the support to be given to the child to achieve the outcomes that are written in the EHCP. It is a legal document that the education setting must follow. It is also important that the plan prepares the child or young person for adulthood.
If we decide not to issue an EHC plan, this means that it has been decided that the child's needs can be met by the ordinary available funding, provision and support within their mainstream educational setting. The SEND Lead Worker will contact the parent/carer as soon as possible and usually by phone, to let them know of this decision.
They will also issue a letter notifying the parent/carer or the young person, the education setting they attend and the health service, giving the reason for the decision. A copy of the statutory assessment papers will also be included.
If you are concerned about this decision and the support your child may receive without an EHC Plan, you can request a 'way forward' with a Local Authority representative to discuss and plan future support for the child or young person within the setting.
If you disagree with the decision, you have the right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
If you require additional support when requesting an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment:
- have a discussion with the SEN Co-ordinator at your child's school or educational setting about the different options available to support them. If possible, it is best to request an assessment in partnership with the school or setting. It is no quicker to request an assessment on your own, as the local authority will still need to get advice from the school or educational setting.
- call the SEN Team on 01225 712620 if you would rather start the process yourself, you're not sure about your options or your child does not attend an educational setting.
- You can also find out more about contacting the team by visiting, Contacting the Wiltshire SEND team.
- you can get impartial support and advice from Wiltshire Special Educational Needs Information, Advice and Support Service Wiltshire SENDIASS or Wiltshire Parent Carer Council (WPCC).
Information and guidance for professionals and parents regarding SEND educational placements in Wiltshire can be found on the 'County movers and admissions information' page.