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EHC assessments and plans

The Graduated Response (SEND Support) explains how children and young people with special educational needs and or disability (SEND) are supported in Derby.

Before your child starts school or in early education

Your child’s early years are an important time for their physical, emotional, intellectual and social development. When your health visitor or doctor makes a routine check, they may suggest there could be a problem, or you may already have worries of your own. You can talk to your doctor or health visitor who will be able to give you advice about the next steps to take and who can help.

If your child’s needs are severe or complex, your health visitor or doctor may approach the other services on your behalf.

If your child is at an early education setting or at school

If you have any concerns about your child’s progress you should first talk to your child’s class teacher. In early years settings or schools there is a SEN coordinator (SENCo), who is responsible for coordinating help for children with special educational needs. You will be able to talk over your concerns with the teacher and/or SENCo and find out what the they thinks. The SENCo will be able to explain what happens next.

Working together with your child’s early years or school staff will often help to sort out worries and problems. Early Years providers and schools can offer strategies and support, set extra targets and when needed involve additional professionals to help, such as educational psychologists. Should you need support in doing this you can contact Derby SENDIASS who are an impartial and arms length information, advice and support service. 

There is more information about what support is available to schools on the Education and Childcare page.

How to make a request for an EHC needs assessment

If you have any queries about your EHC assessment application, please contact the SEND Admin Team on the email or by telephoning 01332 642425 or 01332 643616.

If you need some support in completing an EHC assessment request, you can contact Derby’s Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS). Derby’s SENDIASS provide impartial help and support on all things relating to special educational needs and disabilities in education.

How long does an assessment take?

Usually the whole process should be completed within 20 weeks. During the current COVID19 outbreak it might not be possible for us to complete the EHC plan process in that time. We will do our best to continue to meet this timeframe but it may take us longer than normal to get the information that we need to complete an assessment.

Normally the 20 week process will be broken down like this:

Week 0-6:

  • Referral
  • Evidence gathering
  • Progress to needs assessment or notification not to proceed issued (feedback provided with right to appeal)

By end of week 6:

  • Professional advice requested and considered
  • Decision to issue an EHC plan or notification not to proceed issued (feedback provided with right to appeal)

By end of week 16:

  • Draft EHC plan consultation (chance to consider views on the draft plan and request a particular school or other institution to be named in the plan)
  • Issue final EHC plan (with right to appeal)

Week 20:

  • If a draft EHC plan is issued you will have 15 calendar days to consider and provide views on your child’s draft EHC plan and ask for a particular school or other institution to be named in their final EHC plan.

We advise that where possible, please do not send original documentation in the case of any problems with the postal system.

When you have completed the EHC assessment forms please send them to:


Alternatively, you can post completed forms to:

SEND Admin Team
Derby City Council
Council House
Corporation Street
Derby DE1 2FS

Exceptions that can prolong the process beyond the 20-week timescale

  • The child or young person missing appointments with a professional who the authority has requested advice from.
  • The child or young person is absent from the area for a period of at least four weeks.
  • Exceptional personal circumstances affect the child or his/her parent, or the young person.
  • The educational institution is closed for at least four weeks, which may delay the submission of information.

The purpose of an EHC plan is to:

  • make special educational provision to meet the special educational needs of the child or young person
  • to secure the best possible outcomes for them across education, health and social care
  • prepare them for adulthood as they get older

To achieve this, Derby uses the information from the assessment to:

  • find out and record the views, interests and aspirations of the parents and child or young person
  • provide a full description of the child’s or young person’s special educational needs and any health and social care needs
  • agree outcomes across education, health and social care based on the child’s or young person’s needs, hopes and aspirations
  • specify the provision required and how education, health and care services will work together to meet the child’s or young person’s needs and support the achievement of the agreed outcomes.

An EHCP must be reviewed every year to make sure that a child's or younger person's needs are being met, the Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan Annual Review is used at the meeting.

Admissions arrangements for pupils with an EHC plan

Children and young people change providers/schools at set periods in their school career:

  • Early education providers to infant
  • Infants to juniors
  • Juniors to secondary
  • Secondary to post 16 education providers.

Parents and carers of children and young people with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan will receive a letter explaining what the process is for requesting the next school transition in the Summer term of the academic year prior to transfer. You will be invited annually to a review of your child’s or young person’s EHC plan and asked to start to consider options.

During the Autumn term you will be asked for your school preference for the following September. We will then consult with your preferred schools and ask them if they can meet the needs of your child. When a school has been agreed it will be named on the EHC plan and this will be sent to you.

Young people aged 16-25

Young people who are aged between 16 and 25 years may be entitled to an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.

GOV.UK have published contact details for local post 16 education providers.

Students aged 16 to 25 with EHC plans who are continuing in education have a range of options, including attending:

  • further education
  • training
  • a supported internship
  • an apprenticeship

For more information on study programs, see:

SEND Admin Team contact details:

SEND Service Officers and Caseworkers work with education establishments across Derby city.‌

In April 2014 the Early Help Assessment (EHA) replaced the Common Assessment Framework (CAF).

The Early Help Assessment can be used for children and families who may need support from a wide range of local agencies. Where families would benefit from coordinated support from more than one agency there should be an Early Help Assessment. To contact the Early Help Team, telephone 01332 256666.

A personal budget is an amount of money we identify to deliver all or some of the provision set out in an education, health and care (EHC) plan. It is not available to purchase a school place.

You can request a personal budget once we have said an EHC plan is necessary, or when we are carrying out a statutory review of an existing plan. We have to consider your request and offer information to help you to decide the best course of action.

The personal budget will reflect the whole of the EHC plan and will be based on clear, agreed outcomes. The decision making process to establish and agree a budget should be transparent and challengeable.

There are three ways you can use the budget:

  • direct payments - you receive the money in your account to purchase services yourself
  • notional arrangements - we retain the budget but you decide how it's spent
  • third party arrangements - you choose an individual or organisation to mange the funds on your behalf.

You can read our Personal Budgets Policy to find out more local information. You can also read the Personal Budget Regulations that came into place nationally from the 1 September 2014. For any personal budget queries please contact your SEND officer, or for impartial support, SENDIASS may be able to help.

To understand more about personal health budgets, visit the Derby and Derbyshire CCG website

Wherever possible we want to ensure issues and disagreements can be discussed and resolved at the earliest opportunity. This may be an informal chat with a teacher, social worker or health professional initially. Early Years providers, schools, post 16 education providers and other services will have their own published policies and guidance for addressing complaints and disagreements and the arrangements described below are not intended to replace these.

Disagreement resolution is the process for addressing issues about any aspect of SEND provision, including health and social care disagreements.

Local authorities are legally obliged to provide SEND mediation and disagreement resolution in relation to disputes between parents and carers and young people, schools and local authorities over your special education needs or, as a parent, those of your child. The child or young person does not have to be in the process of being assessed for an Education, Health and Care Plan, in order to access the disagreement resolution process. It is intended to provide a quick and non-adversarial way to resolve disagreements. Decisions relating to the assessment process or the educational provision or needs described in an EHC plan can also be appealed to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT).

This guide When People Can’t Agree – A Guide for Young People in Education is for young people on how to resolve special education needs and disability (SEND) disagreements. The guide for young people aged 16 to 25 is useful if you want to know who to talk to if you are unhappy with the help you are getting for your special educational needs or disability at your post 16 education provider.

From the 1 September 2014, a parent or young person wishing to appeal to the Tribunal process about the education elements of EHC assessments and plans will need to obtain a certificate to demonstrate that they have at least considered mediation before the tribunal will accept their appeal. The certificate will be issued by a mediation adviser, who can provide support and guidance to you about what can be appealed at tribunal and how mediation can be accessed.

If the appeal is solely about the name of the school, post 16 education provider or other institution named in the EHC plan, or the type of school, post 16 education provider or other institution specified in the plan, or the fact that no school or other institution is name you do not have to contact the mediation adviser prior to registering an appeal with the tribunal. Mediation advice is also not required where the disagreement is in relation to a disability discrimination claim.

Global Mediation delivers mediation advice and independent disagreement resolution and mediation across the East Midlands region. Their services are free of charge to users and can be accessed by telephoning 0800 064 4488. Global Mediation is able to provide neutral and independent advice on the mediation process and offers disagreement resolution and mediation, if required.

Once you have received mediation advice, it is your decision whether you want to try mediation before making any appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.

If you do not want to try mediation, then the mediation adviser will, within 3 working days, issue you with a certificate which you will need for the tribunal process.

The SEND Code of Practice makes it clear that people and young people will not be disadvantaged at the tribunal if they have chosen not to proceed with mediation.

For support along the mediation and appeals process, your local Derby SENDIASS can help you.

The tribunal forms part of the First-tier tribunal (Health, Education and Social Care Chamber). Tribunals are overseen by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service.

The tribunal hears appeals against decisions made by the local authorities in England in relation to children's and young people’s EHC needs assessments and EHC plans. It also hears disability discrimination claims against schools and against local authorities when the local authority is the responsible body for a school.

The tribunal seeks to ensure that the process of appealing is as user-friendly as possible, and to avoid hearings that are overly legalistic or technical. It is the tribunal’s aim to ensure that a parent or young person should not need to engage legal representation when appealing a decision. Parents and young people may find it helpful to have support from a voluntary organisation or friend at a hearing.

You can find out more on the Ministry of Justice website which gives guidance on what happens at a hearing.

Parents and young people can appeal to the tribunal about:

  • a decision by a local authority not to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assessment
  • a decision by a local authority that it is not necessary to issue an EHC plan following an assessment
  • the description of a child or young person’s SEND specified in an EHC plan, the special educational provision specified, the school or other institution or type of school or other institution such as a mainstream school or post 16 education provider, specified in the plan or that no school or other institution is specified
  • an amendment to these elements of the EHC plan
  • a decision by a local authority not to amend an EHC plan following a review or re-assessment
  • a decision by a local authority to cease to maintain an EHC plan.

The tribunal does not hear appeals about personal budgets, but will hear appeals about the special educational provision to which a personal budget may apply.
Before registering an SEND appeal with the tribunal the young person or the child’s parent must consider mediation unless an exemption applies. Parents and young people must contact a mediation adviser before registering an appeal about EHC needs assessments or the SEND element of an EHC plan.

Parents and young people have two months to register a SEND appeal with the tribunal, from the date of the local authority sent the notice containing a decision which can be appealed or one month from the date of a certificate which has been issued following mediation or the parent or young person being given mediation information, whichever is the later.

Parents and young people will not be disadvantaged at the tribunal because they have chosen not to go to mediation.

Remember that for support at a tribunal or mediation, Derby SENDIASS offer a free service that is completely impartial.

Contact the tribunal service
HM Courts and Tribunal Service
Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal
1st Floor
Darlington Magistrates' Court
Darlington DL1 1ZD

The Government has confirmed that they are continuing the extended powers of the First-tier Tribunal (SEND), sometimes referred to as the ‘SEND Tribunal’, to make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care parts of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

This means that you have the right to request recommendations about the health and social care needs and provision specified in EHC plans, in addition to the educational aspects, when making a SEND appeal. This gives you the opportunity to raise all your concerns about an EHC plan in one place.

It is only possible for the Tribunal to consider the health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan where you are already making an appeal in relation to the education aspects of the EHC plan and the education aspect must remain live throughout the appeal.

What does this mean for you?

If you are unhappy with a decision not to issue an EHC plan, or with the special educational content or placement in the plan, you can make an appeal to the SEND Tribunal. You are also able to request recommendations about the health and social care content of the plan at the same time, provided there is also an education element. This will mean the Tribunal will take a more holistic, person-centred view of the needs of the child or young person.

This does not prevent you also complaining about other aspects of your disagreement through other complaint procedures. You should seek advice about the different routes available, including from your local Information Advice and Support Service (IASS).

If the SEND Tribunal makes a recommendation about health or social care elements of an EHC plan, this is non-binding. The local authority and/or health commissioner is generally expected to follow such recommendations, but they are not legally binding. Where they are not followed, the reasons for not following them must be explained and set-out in writing to you and to the Department for Education through the evaluators. If they are not followed, you can complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) or Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) or seek to have the decision judicially reviewed. Further information on the roles of these bodies can be found on their websites.

When can a parent or young person request recommendations about the health and social care elements of an EHC plan?

You can request the Tribunal makes recommendations about the health and/or social care aspects of EHC plans as part of an appeal relating to:

  • the description of the child/young person’s special educational needs in an EHC plan
  • the special educational provision specified in an EHC plan
  • the school or other educational institution named in an EHC plan
  • a decision by the local authority not to issue an EHC plan
  • a decision by the local authority not to carry out a re-assessment for a child/young person who has an EHC plan
  • a decision by the local authority not to amend an EHC plan following a review or re-assessment
  • a decision by the local authority to cease to maintain an EHC plan.

How can a parent or young person request a health or social care recommendation?

If you want to appeal against a local authority decision on any of the grounds above and want to request that the Tribunal considers your concerns about the health and /or social care aspects of the EHC plan, you should follow the process for bringing an appeal to the Tribunal and tick the box on the form relating to a health and/or social care appeal. Advice on making SEND appeals to the Tribunal and the appeal form is available on the GOV.UK website and further guidance can be found in the toolkit of support.

As a parent or young person, do I have to consider mediation?

Before you can register an appeal with the Tribunal, you must contact a mediation adviser within two months of the LA decision you wish to appeal and consider whether mediation might be a way to resolve your disagreement with the local authority. If you want to appeal only about the school or other institution named in the EHC plan you do not have to contact a mediation adviser.

You can go to mediation about the health and social care elements of an EHC plan, but this is not compulsory. You can request recommendations about health and social care issues without having to receive mediation advice or attend mediation about those issues, provided there is also an education issue about which you are appealing.

Once a mediation adviser has been contacted, or once you have taken part in mediation, you will be issued with a certificate. This will be necessary if you are still unhappy and wish to progress to an appeal with the Tribunal. An appeal to the Tribunal must usually be made within two months of the decision about which the appeal is being made or one month following the issuing of the mediation certificate, whichever is the later.

If mediation resolves the educational issues, you will not be able to appeal to the Tribunal on any health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan. However, mediation provides an opportunity for us to resolve disagreements and it can be completed more quickly than an appeal. It does not affect your right to make an educational appeal, and some aspects of the disagreement can go to appeal even when other aspects are resolved.

Help and further information