Assessing a child's special educational needs

A parent, education provider, or the young person themselves, (over the age of 16) can request an assessment to find out if they need specialist support.

You should always speak to your child's teacher or pre-school leader in the first instance if you are worried about their learning.

The outcome of the assessment can either identify that the level of support required can be delivered through the educational local offer or, that the local authority needs to make special educational provision when an education, health and care (EHC) plan will be written.

Who can request an assessment of the child's needs?

The following people can request that the local authority conduct an Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEN&D) assessment for a child or young person:

  • The child's parent or carer.
  • A young person over the age of 16, but under 25, acting on their own behalf.
  • A professional acting on behalf of a setting, school or post-16 institution*.
  • Professionals (this could include foster carers and health and social care professionals) who think an assessment may be required can bring the child or young person to the attention of the local authority who will consider if an assessment is required*.

*This should be done with the knowledge and agreement of the parents or young person, where possible.

Educational settings must make themselves familiar with the SEND Code of Practice and in particular that they have taken relevant and purposeful action to identify, assess and meet the special educational needs of the child or young person and that the child or young person has not made expected progress.

To inform their decision making,  the local authority will need to consider a wide range of evidence from the education provider, such as: 

  • evidence of the child or young person's academic attainment (or developmental milestones in younger children) and rate of progress.
  • the information about the nature, extent and context of the child or young person's SEN,
  • the evidence of the action already being taken by the educational setting to meet the child or young person's SEN.
  • evidence that where progress has been made, it has only been as the result of much additional intervention and support over and above that which is usually provided.
  • evidence of the child or 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 the local authority have already undertaken an EHC assessment for the student during the previous 6 months, they are not required to carry out another assessment, but may choose to do so if appropriate.

Online applications

School and education settings

The online system enables schools and educational settings to submit requests for statutory assessment securely and efficiently after considering the details above. We invite all educational settings from Northamptonshire to use this form and actively encourage its use for speed and consistency.

Request a Statutory Assessment of Special Educational Needs

You can upload your supporting evidence documents to the form, but if your file size is too large you may need to send it to the appropriate EHC team using a secure email. Please ensure that you include your supporting evidence from professionals with the online form, failure to do so will delay the process. If you have uploaded your documents to the form you don't need to email them to the locality admin team.

A template that may help in organising the required information:

Advice to help consider the views of the child or young person in the assessment:

​School locality area

​Email address

Daventry and South Northants

​Kettering and Corby

​Wellingborough and East Northants

Parents and carers

We recommend that you speak to the SENCo in your child's school before you ask the local authority to conduct an assessment.

This online form can be used by parents to ask the local authority to conduct an education, health and care needs assessment for their son or daughter, aged under 16, as an alternative to writing to request it. The local authority will then check if the assessment is necessary, following the Code of Practice 2015.

To conform to the SEND Code of Practice, applications for students aged over 16 must be made by the young person. 

Parents will be told of the decision within 6 weeks of receiving the request.

If you decide to use this form, it may help if you prepare any supporting evidence you have, as you can submit them at the same time. This evidence is likely to be letters and reports from medical and other professionals who have worked with or assessed their child. You can save your form and then return to it if needed.

This form was designed with the help from Northamptonshire Parent Forum Group.

Parents - Request a Statutory Assessment of Special Educational Needs

If you need support with your child's application you can contact:

The assessment process

The EHC assessment process has 5 stages and takes a maximum of 20 weeks.

Following a request for an assessment, the local authority must determine whether this is needed. We must make and communicate this decision to the child's parent or the young person within a maximum of 6 weeks of receiving the request.

All requests are considered against a set of conditions in line with legislation under the Children and Families Act 2014. A specialist panel, made up of relevant professionals, will help the local authority decide whether an EHC needs assessment is required.

There are two possible outcomes of an initial application:

​Outcome of application What happens next?​
​The child does not meet the criteria for an assessment of special educational needs.A letter will be sent to the applicant giving reasons for this decision and further options for support.​
​The application meets the criteria  to proceed with an assessment of special educational needs. A case worker is allocated to be the single point of contact for the family and will explain the assessment process.

The child and family should be at the centre of the assessment process.

The case worker will contact the family to discuss the assessment process and gather information. This discussion will include:

  • what works
  • what is not working
  • desired outcomes (for the child)

The following documents are used at this stage:

Process timeline

The process will take up to 20 weeks from the date the Local Authority received the 'Request for Statutory Assessment'.

Working together

The EHC team will identify and contact relevant professionals to give advice in producing the assessment, they include:

  • teachers at the child's school
  • an educational psychologist
  • specialist teachers who have been involved
  • medical professional (usually a doctor)
  • social care
  • external specialists supporting the student
  • specialist therapists (such as speech and language therapists, occupational therapists or physiotherapists)

The EHC team will liaise with these professionals to seek advice regarding the student's difficulties.

Views of parents

The EHC team will also seek the views of the parents and carers and the student's own views.

Gathering information

The format and content of this information will include:

  • a clear description of the child's or young person's needs
  • impact these needs could have on current and future education provision requirements
  • outcomes sought for the child or young person

When all the information is gathered, a decision is made by SEN professionals as to whether it is necessary to issue an EHC plan. 

Decision not to issue an EHC plan

The case worker will phone the family to advise the outcome and offer a meeting to discuss ways forward. The EHC team will send the family a copy of all the documentation used in arriving at its decision not to issue a plan.

The SEN officer can meet the parents to discuss the decision and the support available.

We will also advise you of your right of appeal and the need to consider formal mediation.

Decision to issue an EHC plan

If we think it is necessary to issue an EHC plan, the case worker will write a draft plan which is sent to the family to review and decide to:

  • request changes to the draft plan
  • name their preferred education placement
  • request a personal budget

Parents can request a meeting with us to discuss the contents of the draft plan. In some complex cases this meeting could involve other professional bodies who have been involved.

The SEN officer consults with the educational placements. 

Parents return the draft to the SEN officer to consult the requested education placement.

Completing an EHC plan

The completed EHC plan, including the agreed school placement, is reviewed and formally signed off by the professional leads before being issued.

The final EHC plan is given to:

  • the parents or carers 
  • the child or young person
  • all professionals involved in the assessment process

Find out more about EHC plans.

After parents or carers give their views on the contents and identify a preferred school, the EHC team will consider the views expressed and engage in the consultation process for a school place. 

When a suitable school has been identified it is named in section I of the EHC plan and a final EHC plan is issued, together with the right to appeal.

The education provider will meet with the parents and student to agree short term targets to fulfil the outcomes and provision agreed in the plan.

What if a parent or carer disagrees with the EHC plan?

At this stage, if the parent or carer or young person remains concerned they may:

  • contact the Local Authority to discuss any concerns 
  • seek mediation
  • exercise their right to request mediation and to appeal to the First Tier SEN&D Tribunal Service

If we decide not to assess, we will  write and explain why and will offer a telephone call or meeting to discuss this decision. We will include in the letter the information that we used to make our decision, such as feedback from professionals.

There is a right to appeal the decision. Please see information about mediation and complaints - an appeal may not be necessary.

Contact the team

If you have any questions about the EHC assessment please contact us.