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Does your child need an Education Health and Care Assessment?

Often parents that contact me for a chat know that something isn’t quite right with the education that their child is receiving, but they cannot put their finger on what it is or how to address it.

They often find that their children are left out of certain activities such as school trips or is struggling to make friends. Sometimes they are not developing receptive or expressive language skills at the rate of their friends, or they are not meeting their early milestones on time.

The test that the LA must apply in considering this request is contained in Section 36(8) of the Children and Families Act 2014 and has two parts. Part one of the test is that the child or young person has or may have special educational needs. Part two of the test is that it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child/young person through the issuing of an EHC plan.

Within the SEN Code of Practice 2015 it is stated that:

All children and young people are entitled to an appropriate education, one that is appropriate to their needs and promotes high standards and the fulfilment of potential. This should enable them to achieve their best. 

There is also a requirement under the Code that your child’s school is required to identify and address the SEN of the pupils that they support and must use their best endeavours to make sure that your child gets this support and engages in school activities alongside their peers.

In the case of Buckinghamshire County Council v HW [2013] UKUT 470 (AAC) The Upper Tier Tribunal rejected Buckinghamshire County Council’s argument that the First Tier Tribunal had been wrong to order the assessment without identifying the special educational provision the child or young person required – that was the point of the assessment!

In the case of MC v Summerset County Council [2015] UKUT 461 (AAC) found that it may be lawful for an authority not to assess if a child has access to the provision required within the school resources. If this is the case, then surely the inverse is also true and an assessment should be required if a child cannot access the provision required within the school?

If your child has unassessed needs, is not making progress in line with their peers or the school is not able to provide what your child needs from within its resources then the LA should always assess and as a parent you have a right to request an assessment from your Local Authority directly independently of your child’s school.