If your child's school think your child needs additional help or has additional needs, they may recommend that you ask for an EHC assessment - we explain what that means
The term 'statementing' is bandied about, but what you actually ask for is an EHC assessment. A school, health authority or a parent can request a statutory assessment under the terms of the Children and Families Act 2014. The request needs to be in writing, although some authorities have online forms that you can use.
A statutory assessment involves following a specific set of legal procedures, and putting together evidence from educational, medical, social care and other staff – basically developing a picture of your child based on the professionals that he or she has been in contact with.
A statutory assessment results in either:
- A 'note in lieu', which explains your child's needs, explains why the authority has decided not to make a statement, and will recommend help that your child needs, or
- An 'EHC plan'- this is a legal document that sets out your child's special educational needs as assessed by your Local Education Authority. It sets out the provision that the authority feels your child needs. This may include the name or type of school or facility that will provide the right support.
The aim of the statement is to ensure your child gets the right kind of help to enable him or her to make progress at school. Basically, it's a way of getting your child appropriate help and making things as easy as possible for both your child and the school or nursery they attend.
How many children need an EHC plan?
While around one in five children will need some extra help at school or nursery at some point, only about 2% will need an EHC plan.
So, if your child is on the Early Years/School Action or Action Plus schemes, they are not necessarily going to need an EHC plan; most children will find that these schemes are sufficient to enable them to meet their targets.
It is only children whose needs are unable to be met by these schemes who require a plan.
When should I start the EHC assessment process?
You can apply for your child to be assessed for an EHC plan from when they are 0-25 years.
Take advice from your child's teachers and care workers about when to start the statementing process. It might be best to wait until your child has seen various professionals first. But be warned – the procedure can take around six months, and can be complex:
"Start as early as possible. By the time you get rejected, figure that you are dealing with idiots, get your person at the local authority changed twice and lose the will to live a couple of times, you may even end up just a little late."
"I started to find out about statementing as soon as my son was diagnosed at two years, eight months, but was strongly advised to wait a few months - simply because without having had people involved with him (to provide evidence/reports etc) I would have little success."
Does my child need a diagnosis before we can apply for an assessment/plan?
It's easier to apply for a statement of special educational needs if you have a diagnosis, but it isn't necessary. It's probably easier if you do have a diagnosis to wave around, but the main thing is to get the ball rolling as soon as possible because it can be a drawn-out process. And as this mum says: "Not every child with a plan will have a diagnosis, but to get a plan they will have to have been assessed by the relevant professionals."
Do I have to get an assessment?
No, you don't have to get an assessment for your child, but if your child does have special educational needs that their school or nursery cannot meet, it won't be long before the school or nursery recognises this and asks the local authority to begin the EHC assessment process. If you take the initiative, you can help to advocate for your child.
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Last updated: 9 months ago