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EHC Plan - Eligibility and assessment process

Why do children/young people need an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan?

Children/young people have special educational needs (SEN) if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for them.

Special educational provision is provision that is different from or additional to that normally available to children/young people of the same age, which is designed to help children/young people with SEN or disabilities to access the National Curriculum at school or to study at college.

Although the majority of children/young people who have SEN have their needs met by their current setting, some children/young people may need more support than their setting can fund or a specialist placement. EHC Plans are issued for these children/young people.

A child/young person can have an EHC Plan from 0-25 years old but there is no automatic entitlement to continued support at age 19 or an expectation that those with an EHC plan should remain in education until age 25.

Who can request an EHC needs assessment?

The following people have the right to request that South Tyneside Council conduct an Education, Health and Care needs assessment for a child or young person aged between 0-25 years:

Please note - anyone can bring a child or young person who has (or may have) SEN to the attention of the Council. This could include foster carers, health and social care professionals, early year's practitioners, youth offending teams or probation services, those responsible for education in custody, school or college staff or a family friend. Any referrals made on behalf of the parents/young person must be done with their knowledge and agreement wherever possible.

How to apply for an EHC needs assessment

Education settings and professionals

Education settings and professionals need to complete the SEND Referral Form to apply Referral for SEN assessment113.55KB

Parents, carers or young person

If you think your child may need an EHC Plan, talk to the child/young person's educational setting (nursery, school, college) about your concerns. The school's special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) will be able to offer advice.

If you want to make a referral you can use Referral for SEN assessment by a parent333.5KB or Referral for SEN assessment by a young person89.5KB or send a letter requesting a needs assessment. Please include as much information as possible.

Help to apply and an explanation of the process is available from SENDIASS.

After an application has been submitted

When you make a request for a needs assessment, we will send a letter confirming that the Council has received the request.  The Council will consider the following before making a decision whether to go ahead with a needs assessment:

  • the child/young person's academic attainment (or developmental milestones in younger children) and rate of progress
  • information about the nature, extent and context of the child/young person's difficulties
  • the action that the setting has already being taken to meet the child or young person's SEN (SEN Support)
  • evidence that where progress has been made, it has only been as the result of much additional intervention and support
  • the child/young person's physical, emotional and social development and health needs, drawing on relevant evidence from clinicians and other health professionals and what has been done to meet these by other agencies
  • if a young person is aged over 18, whether the young person requires extra time to complete their education or training, in comparison to the majority of young people of their age who do not have special educational needs

The SEND Services Team Manager can decide whether to go ahead with the assessment if they feel that there is clear evidence. In cases it isn't straightforward, the request will be considered by the SEND Panel. The SEND Panel is an advisory body and considers referrals for assessment made by educational providers, health colleagues, parents and young people.

The Council must decide whether to go ahead with a needs assessment within 6 weeks of receiving the request and the parents/young person and setting will be informed of the decision

If the Council decides to carry out a needs assessment, a SEN Officer will be in contact to gather views and explain the process to the parents and/or the young person.  Please note that even if the assessment does go ahead the Council will not always agree to issue an EHC plan.

If the request to carry out a needs assessment is refused, you will receive a letter giving you the reasons why the request has been refused and you will have the right to appeal to the SEND First Tier Tribunal.

Independent support/advice for parents and young people on the process is available from the 'SEND Information, Advice and Support Service' (SENDIASS) telephone.: 0191 4246345 or e-mail

For more information about your rights of appeal please contact SENDIASS or visit GOV.UK: Tribunals - SEND.

The assessment process

Once the Council has agreed to carry our a needs assessment, it has 6 weeks to collect further information from professionals involved with you/your child.

If you haven't given your views already, you will be asked to let us know what you think is working, what's not working so well and what you think needs to change. An SEND Officer will help you with this. You will also be asked if you want to provide any further information.

At the same time the SEND Officer will gather information from the other people involved and arrange a meeting. This meeting is to discuss either the EHC Plan or, if we decide not to issue an EHC Plan, to discuss the reasons why the Council won't be issuing a Plan.

All of the information that we collect then goes to the SEND Panel and a decision is made about whether to issue an EHC Plan or whether your/your child's needs can be met without a Plan.

If the Council decides to go ahead and issue an EHC Plan, you will receive an outline copy of the Plan to look at before the planning meeting. At the planning meeting, the SEND Officer will discuss with you and the professionals involved, the contents of the Plan and outcomes that you/your child will be working towards.

You will then receive a draft EHC Plan and will have 15 days to let us know whether any amendments need to be made and which setting you would like your child to attend. Please note that although you have the right to request a setting of your choice, the Council does not have to name that school in your child's EHC Plan.

A final EHC Plan will be issued no more than 20 weeks from the date that the Council received the request for an assessment. Occasionally, the Council needs longer than 20 weeks to complete the EHC Plan but your SEND Officer will let you know if the assessment is going to take more than 20 weeks.

Although the Council tries to work with parents/young people to resolve any concerns, there may be times when you are not happy with the final EHC Plan. You have the right to appeal against certain aspects of the final EHC Plan.

Sometimes, the information gathered during an assessment may indicate ways that you/your child's needs can be met without an EHC Plan. If the Council decides not to issue an EHC Plan, we will write to you to explain the reasons. Your SEND Officer will also meet with you and the setting to explain the reasons why. If the request to carry out a needs assessment is refused, parents or young people have the right to appeal to the SEND First Tier Tribunal.

For more information about your rights of appeal please contact SENDIASS or visit GOV.UK: Tribunals - SEND.

The SEND Panel

Membership of the Panel:

  • Service Manager: SEND, Access and Inclusion (Chair)
  • Team Manager, SEND Services
  • Specialist Senior Educational Psychologist
  • Primary Headteacher or SENCo
  • Secondary Headteacher or SENCo
  • Special School Headteacher or Resource Base Lead
  • Representatives from Health
  • Representatives from Social Care


At least five members of the panel must be present at the meeting to make a quorate decision. The Chair will have a casting vote where necessary.

A summary record of the decisions will be made with reasons where appropriate.

Confidentiality and the Data Protection Act applies in all case.

There may be occasions, for example, during school holiday, were a decision has to be made outside of the SEND Panel but any decisions are agreed by the Chair.

Terms of Reference

The panel will fulfil the following functions:

  • consider requests for needs assessment
  • apply the eligibility criteria for assessment consistently
  • ensure all requests for statutory assessment are considered within the statutory timescales set out in the SEN Code of Practice 2015 ( 6 weeks from the date the Local Authority receives the referral)
  • ensure the decision is relayed to the parents/ young person, education provider, health and social care as appropriate
  • decide whether an EHC Plan should be issued following an initial assessment and determine an appropriate educational placement/level of resources needed to meet each child or young persons needs
  • consider change of placement, changes to top up funding or whether the EHC Plan should continue or cease to be maintained following annual review
  • consider change of placement on transition to the next phase of education
  • prioritise special school waiting lists when places become available
  • consider and respond to requests for top up funding

Frequency of meetings

  • Every two weeks in school term time
  • Outside of term time at the discretion of the Chair

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