Request an assessment
If you are concerned about your child’s special educational needs, the first thing to do is to talk to the school / early years setting or college your child is attending. In schools the class teacher is responsible for the progress and development of all children, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities. Every school has a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) who is responsible for making sure the school identifies and addresses special educational needs. The school can also involve a range of external support services to give them further advice and ideas.
Early years settings must have a qualified teacher working in the setting and can advise you and arrange for your child to be closely observed to see what barriers there are to making good progress and being included. Settings are supported by a range of external support services that can help and advise staff about your child’s particular needs and challenges. Sometimes there is an area or cluster SENCO, who works across the community and can support and advise staff in what is good practice or worth trying.
When a school, setting or college identifies that your child has or may have special educational needs and/or a disability, they must contact you to let you know this, and to work with you to find the best way forward. Whatever the plans agreed, this stage is called SEN support and is part of a graduated response or approach.
You might also want to:
- Talk to other professionals who are already involved or aware of your child – like your GP, or other local professional in the Health service.
- Check out the Local Offer website to see what other advice/useful information is available.
Most children will have their support needs met through the Local Offer without the need for a more formal assessment.
If all of these things have already happened and you remain concerned that you/your child may have more complex needs and may require an Education, Health and Care Plan, you can request a Needs Assessment. You can either do this through your early years setting, school or post-16 provider or you can contact us directly by phone or by letter.
Young people over 16 can also make a request in their own right, or through an advocate acting on their behalf.
Requests via Educational Settings
Early years settings, schools and post-16 providers can submit a Request to Assess on behalf of a child/young person and their family.
Referrals by any other professionals
Any other professional can bring a child or young person to our attention as having or possibly having SEN - to do this please contact us in writing giving information about your concerns. We will then consult with the young person and/or their parent/carer when considering whether to carry out a Needs Assessment and to ensure that we have their consent.
Considering requests and referrals
We will acknowledge all requests and consider the information provided. A decision will be made whether or not to proceed with a Needs Assessment within 6 weeks.
The active and meaningful involvement of parents/carers, children and young people is a central plank in the SEND reforms and is key to good communication and ensuring families’ confidence in the whole assessment process.
A family supporter will be identified at this stage, this is someone who acts in a supportive role – this could be a professional who is already known to the you and your family, a member of a voluntary service, someone from the Sheffield SEN and Disability Information Advice and Support Service (formally Parent Partnership Service), or a parent volunteer. Whoever this is, it should be someone that you/your child feel confident in and comfortable for them to take on that role. As long as that person is in agreement to take on this role, training and advice will be provided as necessary.
You will then be invited to be part of a planning meeting along with your Family Supporter and other relevant professionals. You and your child will be involved in discussions about who needs to be at that meeting.
EHC Needs Assessment and Planning Process
If the decision is made to carry out an EHC needs assessment, you will be informed within six weeks. The next stage (step 3 in the Pathway diagram) involves gathering together information about you/your child - identifying what your views, and the views of your child are, what professionals can tell us about their special educational needs and/or disabilities, and finding out what is working well and what is not working so well.
A Plan will be carefully drawn up with you/your child and the professionals that are providing support. This is called co-producing the plan (step 4 in the Pathway diagram). These two steps take place over a period of up to 10 weeks and include identifying and consulting with your preferred educational provider.
The final stage, where resources are allocated and the plan finalised, takes up to four weeks.
The whole EHC assessment and planning process takes up to a maximum of 20 weeks.
Where an EHC assessment is refused: arrangements for complaints; mediation; disagreement resolution and appeals
If your request does not meet the eligibility criteria, you will be contacted to explain the reason for this, offered an opportunity to make sure your concerns are fully understood, and to consider what support has been suggested or arranged. The decision not to agree an EHC assessment will be communicated to you, along with an explanation, within 6 weeks from receipt of the request. Advice which has been collected will be shared with you.
You have the right to appeal to the First Tier Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Tribunal if you disagree with our decision:
- Not to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assessment of your child.
- Not to draw up an EHC plan for your child, once we have done an assessment.
- Not to amend your child’s EHC plan after the annual review or re-assessment.
- To cease to maintain your child’s EHC plan.
Where we have produced an EHC plan for your child, mediation is available if you disagree with:
- The parts of the plan which describe your child’s special educational needs
- The special educational provision set out in the plan
For independent disagreement resolution and mediation services, please contact:
6, Marchcote Lane
BD 16 1TA
Tel: 07715 958 290