Applying for an EHC needs assessment

Before the local authority can make an EHC plan for your child, they’ll need to find out whether they need one. To do this they will do an EHC needs assessment.

The local authority must carry out a needs assessment if they:

  • believe your child has or may have special educational needs, and
  • they may need special educational support to be made through an EHC plan.

In other words, if they think that your child may need an EHC plan to help them achieve their best, they must do an EHC needs assessment.

Having an EHC needs assessment doesn’t always lead to getting an EHC plan though. The information that’s collected as part of an assessment may show ways that the school, college or other provider can meet your child’s needs without an EHC plan.

A needs assessment should be thorough. The local authority will ask the professionals involved with your child to give information about their needs and the kind of help that would support their learning. If you have asked for an EHC needs assessment before and had your request turned down, you can apply again whenever you wish.

If you had an assessment but a plan wasn’t issued, you can ask for a new assessment if the previous one wasn’t carried out in the past six months. The local authority can do one earlier than that if they feel it’s needed.

You can find out more about applying for a needs assessment in the questions and answers below.

You can download EHC Needs Assessment – a guide for parents and carers as a PDF. The booklet includes some of this information along with details of the whole needs assessment process. We also have a how to guide to asking for an EHC needs assessment.

There is also web information about

How do I apply for an EHC needs assessment?

As a parent, carer or guardian, you can apply for an EHC needs assessment for your child or young person. You don’t need your child’s nursery, school or college to apply as well, or need to ask for their permission or agreement. But it does help to work together with your child’s school or college whenever you can.

You can apply for an EHC needs assessment by:

  1. Going to the EHC Hub and applying for an EHC needs assessment using an online form. The EHC Hub is where all requests in Devon are managed and you’ll be able to see what’s happening at every stage of the process by logging in.
  2. Writing directly to the 0-25 team at Room L102, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter, EX2 4QD telling them you would like your child to be assessed.
  3. Emailing the 0-25 team with your request to:

If you send a letter or email, make a copy before you send it.

Do I have to use the EHC Hub?

It’s a good idea to use the EHC Hub if you can, but you don’t have to. The EHC Hub is the central place online where the whole needs assessment process is managed. By using it you will be able to see exactly what’s going on and what information has been provided by everyone involved in the assessment. You’ll also be able to see when key parts of the process should be finished.
If you’re not comfortable using it or you don’t have a computer or device, you don’t have to apply through the EHC Hub. You can write a letter or an email instead, but you must ask for a needs assessment in writing rather than by phone. If you’d like help to use the EHC Hub, there is support available by phone and email. The details are on the Local Offer website.
If you’re not able to use the EHC Hub, you can:
  • Ask a friend or family member to complete the application with you or for you.
  • Ask a friend or family member to write a letter or email for you, asking for a needs assessment. If they can write down why you think your child needs an assessment too, that will help. There is a template letter you can use on the IPSEA website.
  • Contact us to ask for help to make the request.

Many of the professionals involved with your child are likely to be using the EHC Hub to share information during the assessment. If you’re not using the EHC Hub, this will be noted on the system and the SEN 0-25 staff member will share all the information with you by email or post instead.

How do I apply using the EHC Hub?

Before you start applying, it’s a good idea to collect all the information you’ll need (see step four). You can’t save the pages and come back to it later, so it’s a good idea to make sure the request is complete before you send it. If you miss anything at this stage don’t worry, you can also add information later when the assessment process starts.

Important to know

You will probably find it easier to use the EHC Hub on a laptop, tablet or desktop computer, rather than a phone. The size of the phone screen makes it harder to read the information and there is a chance you might miss something. If you don’t have any other device apart from a phone, ask a friend or family member if they have one you can use. Some parents have also said the EHC Hub works better when they use Chrome as their internet browser.

Step one: Asking for an assessment

If you search for Devon EHC Hub you’ll probably end up at a page that has this box on it. At the very bottom of this green box you’ll see the words ‘Request a Needs Assessment’. Hover over that with your cursor and you’ll see it’s a link. Click on it.
Step two: Information about EHC plans and assessments
After you’ve clicked on the link, you’ll see information about EHC plans and what they are. Read it and click the button at the bottom that says, ‘Request an EHC needs assessment’. That takes you to a second page of information about asking for an assessment. Read that and click the button at the bottom that says, ‘Request an EHC needs assessment’.
Step three: Giving consent and agreeing to information sharing
The next page has information about consent and information sharing. You’ll be asked to choose an option – select the one that says you’re a parent applying, rather than an advocate or a young person.
Read the information about consent and how information is shared.
You can write down the details of any individual or organisation that you don’t want information shared with and why. Tick the box to say you agree for information to be shared.
Go to the top right of your screen and click the button that says, ‘Continue request’.

Step four: Giving information

The next stage of the application is the final part and it’s where you’ll be giving information about you, your child and their needs.

There are five sections for you to fill in. The boxes will get bigger as you type.

  1. Your details, including contact details and the best way for the SEN 0-25 team to contact you.
  2. Your child or young person’s details.
  3. Details of all the professionals involved with your child. You can add as many of these as you need to using the ‘add contact’ button. You should include people like therapists, specialist teachers, health professionals, social care enablers, the educational psychologist etc.
  4. Information about where your child currently goes to school, even if this is outside Devon. If your child isn’t in school, you can type in ‘elective home education’ or ‘child missing education’ and choose either of those options. You’ll also be asked for information about your child’s percentage of attendance. You can ask the school to tell you this, or it may be on any app your child’s school uses for payments and bookings, such as School Gateway. If you don’t have this information don’t worry, you can just leave that box blank.
  5. Important information about your child. You’ll be asked about your child’s education, health and care needs as you see them. You’ll be asked to say whether your child has been involved in the decision to ask for a needs assessment. If you choose ‘yes’ you will be asked to say what your child or young person’s views are, as well as giving your own. This includes saying what is working well at school and what isn’t. You’ll have another chance to send in your views and your child’s once the assessment starts. You can find out more about what to include in this section in our ‘How to Guide’ to applying for an EHC needs assessment.

Try and make the information you give brief and to the point. If you can’t answer some of the questions, don’t worry. Do what you can to answer as much as you can. The SEN 0-25 team will contact your child’s nursery, school or college for information too.

When you’ve filled in the form and you’re happy with it, click the button at the top of the screen that says ‘send request’. Once you’ve done that, the request will be submitted.

When it’s been processed, you’ll be sent an email asking you to register on the Hub. That means setting up your login details including a password. You’ll get information about how to do this along with the email.

Check your spam or junk folder if you haven’t received an email within a day or two. Then add the Hub email address to your ‘safe sender’ list.

Do I need to send any other information?

When you apply using the EHC Hub you won’t need to send in any extra information at that stage. Copies of assessments, reports and letters etc can be added later, once the application has been processed and you have accepted the invitation to join the Hub.
If you have asked for an EHC needs assessment by sending a letter or email, you can send any written reports, assessments and other important information from professionals then. These should ideally have been written within the last year. Don’t send the original reports as they may not be sent back to you.
You can send in letters or reports from more than a year ago if they have information in them about a diagnosis. This could be something like an autism assessment and diagnosis, or a letter from your child’s doctor which says they have ADHD.

Who applies for an EHC needs assessment if my child is over 16?

If your young person is aged between 16 and 25, they can ask for an EHC needs assessment themselves.
The process is the same for young people as it is for parents, and they can use the EHC Hub or send a letter or email to make the request.
They can do that themselves or with help from you or another trusted adult. The SEN 0-25 team will get in touch directly with any young person who has asked for an EHC needs assessment and send the invitation to register for the Hub and all emails to them. If they need to, SEN 0-25 team staff will also speak directly to your young person about the assessment.
As their parent or carer, you can also be invited to register for the Hub and take part in the assessment too. Your young person should add your details to the section called ‘Child or young person’s main contacts (family and involved professionals)’. If they don’t add you then you won’t automatically be invited to take part or register for the Hub.
If your young person is between 16 and 25 but is unable to apply for a needs assessment themselves, you can do it on their behalf. This would usually happen if your young person is unable to make informed decisions about their education and future. This is mental capacity – their ability to make a specific decision at a specific point in time.
Most of the time it’s a young person’s parent or carer that decides whether they’re able to make decisions. If you’re not sure whether your young person can make decisions about a needs assessment, get advice from your child’s GP. You can find out more about mental capacity on the Preparing for Adulthood website.

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Page updated: September 2020 Page due for review: July 2021