EHCP Assessment: SNJ’s “Get started” Checklist

This was one of the first pages I wrote on this site, with some top tips of how to get yourself organised to apply for a statement application to meet your child's special educational needs.

I thought that after the system changed, I would have to redo it completely, but as I proceed in our own transition, I can see that really, nothing has changed. Even if you have an Independent Supporter assigned to you, they will not appear until you have registered your request for a statutory assessment, if you get one at all.

So you still need to assemble the evidence you will rely on to prove that all reasonable steps to help your child have been taken and still, he or she has not made the progress expected.

If you want to see the flow of the new system, take a look at our SNJ SEND Flow Charts that we co-produced with the Department for Education. These are free to use, download, print, laminate, anything. Why not let me know how you're using them?

get startedIf you think your child’s evident (to you) needs will ensure that they will get the help they need, think again. There is a lot of information available since the reforms but it can be confusing and those just coming into the system are unlikely to be aware of where to find it.

The new SEND Code of Practice (2014) emphasises that parents are central to the process of helping the child thrive and succeed at school. In other words, the parents/carers and the teachers are all on the same side and are creating a circle of support around the child. So, in theory, you should be in close contact about what is working and what could be tried.

In reality, this may be far from the truth. Contact may be sporadic, you may not feel welcome, you may feel judged or may even feel that the school is failing your child.

So, whatever your situation, here are some quick and dirty tips that will get you off to a good start:

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1. Find out how the school thinks your child is doing.

First of all you should speak to your child’s head teacher or the Special Educational Needs Coordinator, or SENCo. Find out what level of support they are already on, such as School Action or School Action Plus or if they are already on SEN Support and for how long they have been on the SEN register.

Ask to be provided with a record of the educational and/or behavioural interventions used and comments have about how they have worked or not.

Find out who delivered the intervention if you don't already know, over what period, how it has been monitored for progress and whether your child has achieved their target. Get concrete evidence for whatever is said has been achieved. Ensure these outcomes have been achieved reliably and not just hit once on a lucky day! This should give you an idea of exactly what your child is achieving and you should be able to compare it with the average expected level for a child of their age. Gather together any reports or tests your child has ever had done.

This means all their school reports and exam results, any referrals they have had to Paediatricians, Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapists, Educational Psychologists, etc. Make a file up if you haven’t already and put them in chronological order. You are building up a paper profile of your child because you will need to prove that they need the help you say they do.

If you have the facilities, scan all your letters in to your computer as pdfs so that you never lose them and you can print the ones you want off, when you need them - NEVER send originals. You can then organise them into folders on your computer so they documents are easy to find.

2. Find out what your child should be achieving.

The LA will argue that just because a child is achieving below average does not mean that they have special educational needs or that they need SEN Support or an Education, Health and Care Plan. Children in each class will have a broad spectrum of achievement according to their individual potential. Harsh as it seems, some children will never be top of the class but that doesn’t mean that they have SEN. So, how can you show that your child has a greater potential than their current achievements point to?

The obvious way is to secure an Educational Psychology assessment for them. Each LA has its own Ed Psychs although there is a shortage, of course! As the new SEND Code of Practice says that when an SEN is suspected, external experts should be called in at an early stage, it may be that you already have a useable Ed Psych assessment to use but if not, you should ask your SENCo to arrange one so that you can, as a team, get a good idea of the current picture.  You may also need to consider a Speech and Language assessment or an Occupational Therapy assessment if this is indicated.

Try to build up and maintain a positive relationship with your school’s SENCo and class teacher if possible. If an Ed Psych assessment is not forthcoming, you could consider a private assessment, usually at great expense, although these are often regarded with suspicion by the LEA that the report is biased towards the parents views, even though it almost certainly isn’t.


3. If applicable, get a medical diagnosis for your child.

Some people don’t like labelling their child, which is fine unless you want to get the state to provide them with the help they need. If little Johnny is dyslexic, ASD, ADHD, dyscalculic or any other hidden disability, you need to be able to prove that this is not just your opinion, even if you are a doctor yourself.

Take your child to your GP and ask for a referral to a paediatrician or to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). A firm medical diagnosis is harder to ignore. If you can afford it, you can also see a paediatrician or child psychiatrist privately for a diagnosis.

If your child has an Undiagnosed condition, focus on the symptoms that they have. You may also be able to draw parallels with known conditions for some of their symptoms that already have useful information, for eg, posture, visual difficulties, medication needs, attention difficulties, sensory issues, accessibility requirements and so on.

4. Do Your Research.

Knowledge is power and in such a David v. Goliath match as the Local Authority vs the parent (despite the new system stressing co-production or working together), this is even more important. The internet means this is not as difficult as it seems. Find out what your LA’s SEN policies are but remember a local authority's policy DOES NOT TRUMP THE LAW.

You can find a lot of information on their websites - they should also be on the Local Offer websites for your area eventually. Read the SEND Code of Practice which you can download in pdf format  There are easy read versions available and a Parents' Guide that SNJ had some input into but if you want the unedited facts (and you will if you want to quote from parts of the CoP) nothing beats the Code itself. This is the main page from where you can find the government publications on the 'latest' tab

If you want to understand it more easily, visit IPSEA's website which is packed with legally-backed information. This is the site where we get all our legal advice from and Jane McConnell, IPSEA's CEO and a Barrister, is our legal agony aunt. Make this a vital port of call whatever age or SEND stage your child is at.

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5. Work out a strategy

Once you have the information you need, you need to know what to do with it. If your LA has a document outlining its policies, read and analyse it. Make it work for you. Use its own policies to show that your child isn’t getting what they should be. After all, if you can’t prove this, you case will be considerably weaker. When you send in your submission, don’t use their own form if you don’t want to. Write as much as you can that is relevant to your case and provide reports to back them up. Refer to the reports in your document. Approach it like you are writing a report at work or at college. This may take many redrafts and a lot of time. You may feel you need help and if so don’t be afraid to ask (see 8.) Remember this is not for you, it’s for your child.

6. Stay strong

There is no doubt that this process is stressful and often depressing and many parents give up along the way, which is what the LEA is hoping for. If your child has severe and visible needs, you are less likely to be reading this because those cases are self-evident and easier to prove, although this is not always true. It is where a child has a hidden disability that things get trickier. It is completely true that only the most determined will get what they want. You must look after your own physical and mental health in order to help your child. That means eating healthily, sleeping enough (not easy if your child is up a lot in the night), and just doing whatever works for you to keep you going. Remember you are your child’s greatest asset and best advocate. Don’t give up.

7. Get help

Not everyone is great at reading and analysing great tracts of text and complex documents. This is sometimes because the parents themselves have an ASD or are dyslexic; these conditions do, after all, have a genetic component. If this sounds like you, then ask a friend for support or approach some of the excellent charities that can help. We will be adding to the list of these elsewhere on the website in the coming months. If you know of any and would like to share them, please send the link to If you want to share your troubles, you can make a comment on this blog or there are other parenting sites with SEN sections.

When you apply for an EHCP assessment, you should be offered and assigned an Independent Supporter. You don't have to use one, but they're free and should support you through the process.

And although the law has changed, you may still find the tips for gathering your case together in our SNJ Statementing Guide Book handy, you can find details here

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Karen Pithers (@KLAPSTER5)

I am helping a family friend who’s daughter has had an SEN since starting school; she suffers from speech, language and communication difficulties as well as poor fine motor skills and I highly suspect autism. She is now in 6th form but in the past 18 months has experienced bowel and bladder issues and is unable to self care with her toiletting. Her school absolutely deny that she needs help and send her home everyday soiled where she has been left in her own faeces due to her inability to clean up. In addition, in September they moved her into… Read more »

Special Needs Mum

I think you’re doing the only thing that can be done – fight it at Tribunal to get the help she needs. Good luck – hope it turns out the right way


I believe that is one of the such a lot significant information for me. And i am happy reading your article. However wanna observation on few common issues, The site style is perfect, the articles is truly nice : D. Just right process, cheers

Sophie White

Helpful to have this sort of thing for parents – the LA don’t know the children and have never met them so having the bits of paper is necessary as the LA have to have the evidence to issue a statement and unfortunately schools can’t always be relied upon to give it. I don’t think every parent experiences a battle with the LA, I certainly haven’t, but I can appreciate that this may depend where you live which isn’t fair!


Hi – can you help me My son is statemented with special needs and has 15 hours support. The school now want to use this funding for a support teacher to float around all 3 classes. How can I dispute this. They say they want my son to be more independent.

Debs Aspland

Hi, What is the exact wording in your son’s statement? Does it specify 15 hours of one to one?
What is the need specified in section 2 that provides 15 hours support to meet the need in section 3? Let me know and we can then advise what is the best course of action.
Debs 🙂


On bottom of this post, the link to SEN – filling out the assessment form -yipes! doesn’t seem to work – was just about to recommend it to someone but can’t find it!

Debs Aspland

Thanks for letting us know Sharon, we have now fixed the link.


We have had a first version of statement issues to us but I feel it is very weak mostly as the LA EPs report was weak having done no new assessment. At this point can we submit a report from an independent E P? Any advice would be appreciated


Hi there, I am just starting the long process of applying for a statement for my daughter who is 13. She is in a mainstream school but keeps getting excluded as she has tourettes and says inappropriate things and has anger rages when things are not dealt with straight away. She also has ADHD and ODD which obviously does not help with the situation. I have asked the school for years for a statement to be applied for but only just learnt that i myself as her parent can ask for this of which i have done. She has received… Read more »

L Thomas

Are there any real life stories of parents and practitioners successfully working together (in the new involved way we anticipate) – to actually drive positive relationships/outcomes? Some light at the end of the Reforms tunnel, anywhere? It takes two to dance the new dance, the reforms tango. Yet parents are not getting enough real support in addition to reading material, especially those who are not living in EHCP land, which is the vast majority. Learning a new dance requires some practical learning eventually, ideally before parents apply for assessment and trip up. At the moment it seems that most of… Read more »

Tania Tirraoro

Excellent points and we have asked parents to send in examples of good practice and experiences to us but have had no response.
We’ll continue to add to our info pages as we can (going through two EHCPs myself right now- but would love to hear some good experiences!

Judith Newman

You mention help from Independent Supporters and that it is only available once a request for assessment has been made. Why haven’t you mentioned the statutory Information, Advice and Support services that can support parents from when SEN is first suspected, and continue helping all the way through the assessment process and beyond?

Tania Tirraoro

I do believe I have invited them to write an article for us, but haven’t yet received anything 🙁
As to why they’re not mentioned, I just forgot as I was writing, as always, with limited time. This article is still a WIP.


I am a parent of a young person with SEN and a SEND information advice and support service coordinator, I know that SEND IAS services work tirelessly to ensure parents have the right support. We provide IAS to support all concerns and SEN processes including the statutory EHC plan process. It’s a shame you haven’t received a reply Tania I’m sure many SEND IAS services would be only too happy to provide you with something to help parents understand all that’s available to them.

Tania Tirraoro

Well, if you’d like to write us a gues post about the great work you do, you’d be extremely welcome! Circa 1000 words, images, any relevant links included. Info [at] speciAlneedsjungle [dot] com.


Thank you for the opportunity, that would excellent! I will get back to you as soon as possible. May be after the end of term due to workload.

Ayesha Ismail

Hi there,
I work for Barnardos Independent Support Service in Bradford and would like to write an article on Independent Support and how we can guide parents and young people through the EHCP process. Hopefully the article can make things clear about our service and what information we can provide.
Would this be okay?
Ayesha Ismail
Independent Supporter
Barnardos, Bradford.

Tania Tirraoro

Absolutely! Thank you! We were only just discussing in out SNJ meeting today how confused many people were with all the different names and groups- please do! Email us at team [at]

Ayesha Ismail

Hi Tania,
Sorry for the delay, I will be sending an email through today with some information about Independent Supporters in Bradford.
The email title will be Independent Supporters Information – Barnardos
Ayesha Ismail

Nikki Zumba Fothergill

we applied for an EHCP and got turned down because … ‘we chose to privately educated our child’! the LA say he has needs but they don’t have to do anything at all. he has a diagnosis of DCD/dyspraxia, he’s got apraxia of speech so sees SALT, he has OT and physio treatement and assessments, he has irlen syndrome and suffers with sensory overload. it’s very frustrating. if we pull him out to put him in state education he wouldn’t cope. he would have a meltdown, which is not nice and usually results in him throwing things, hitting people, screaming… Read more »

Tania Tirraoro

Nikki. That’s wrong.. An LA has responsibility for the SEN of your child if they live in their area. That’s it.
Nothing to do with their current placement. Go back to them and tell them they are wrong or, better yet, call IPSEA to get the chapter and verse as I can’t get hold of it myself right at this moment (in bed…) it is in the new SEND Code of Practice

Amanda Parkin

Does anyone know whether I can insist on a final plan being issued now they are in breach of the deadlines? My son is transitioning to a local college from a residential placement. The Authority are in serious breach of the timelines and have ignored so far my request to issue a final plan which will enable me to lodge and appeal?

Tania Tirraoro

Have you seen a draft yet? Are you happy with what’s in it? I know that LAs, particularly the 16+ area, are having huge difficulty getting to grips with the new system. The 16+ teams are new to legally enforceable plans and language and training has been patchy. We had a similar situation, so I sent the college a draft and also my own table with need, specified provision and outcome detailed so they had a good idea of what my son needed. I felt it was better to work with the 16+ team to get the right plan. However,… Read more »

Nicola Blackett Was Slater

This is bloody brilliant, I am just about to write the letter to request a statement for my very hidden aspie daughter (7). We have all the evidence, scared, anxious, but ready!


Hi! Would you be able to advice me on Home educating and EHCP matter? I am educating my 6 year old son at home. I mentioned to our Educ. Psychologist that i would like to have extra funding (for day to day school expenses and trips to zoo, curriculum etc.) and she suggested to start EHCP application. Right now we are in the process of drawing out EHCP with LA (today was the first meeting with specialists involved) a i hoped to include Personal budget as means of supporting my part as a parent. Today i was told that i… Read more »

Tania Tirraoro

Hi Ilona. We have a post about PBs here
In Control are the experts on this.
The law is the Children and Families Act and the Code of Practice explains the detail of this find these here
For information about Home education and SEN, check out
for legal advice, visit

Marguerite Haye

Hi IIona,
I wrote many plans for children educated at home. Does your son have a special educational need? If yes and he is statement or has an EHCP, the personal budget needs to be linked to an outcome.

Talia Sherrin-Miller

Hi, I work for Independent Support Kent. I would just like to clarify for everyone that Independent Support (Not the statutory Information, Advice and Support Service) is run by different charities in each county, therefore services may differ slightly, as does the EHCP paperwork. Independent Support Kent offers support to families undergoing a transition as well as making a new application – from thinking about applying and writing the letter onwards. This service should be advertised via the local council and schools, in Kent families are not automatically assigned to our service, instead we promote our free independent service throughout… Read more »

Tania Tirraoro

Thanks for that Talia. We spoke about IS with Ed Timpson when I met him this week along with PCF members, NNPCF reps, CDC and CaF. We impressed upon him the need to maintain the IS service in particular. If you’d like to answer questions via SNJ, let me know

Talia Sherrin-Miller

Hi Tania,
That sounds like a great idea, I’d love to answer questions via SNJ.


I’m waiting the hear from the LEA on whether or not they will assess my son. I’ve just come back from the meeting with school who tell me that in their experience if they assess and agree his needs need further resources to be met the LEA just gives the school a set amount of money (£6,000) to top up the £6,000 they already have in their budget. That wasn’t my understanding. I
thought the resources provided by the LEA is determined by the child’s needs and not that it was a pre-fixed amount, or indeed limited? Any advice please?

Tania Tirraoro

Hi Loo
The funding for an EHCP is supposed to be for that child, not to be out in a pot for all children with SEN. It is to fund the needs stated in the EHCP to go towards meeting the outcome for that child. If the school is sharing it out, they are not following the law.
For legal help, check out as they have lots of fact sheets.


Thanks Tania. It’s not so much that the school don’t intend to use any funding for my son, but they seem to think there is a pre-determined amount set at £6,000 that comes with an EHCP rather than what ever resources are required to support the child. I’ve just never heard that before.

Tania Tirraoro

The first £6000 of SEN funding for the EHCP comes from the school’s delegated budget. Anything over that comes from the LA. But that doesn’t mean it gets spread out- it’s supposed to be for the particular child, it’s just that anything under £6k comes from the delegated budget that the LA gives to the school. Hope that helps a bit. Contact a family can also help with this.


Hello can anyone tell me if there is any advantage to paying for a private diagnosis – I think my child maybe autistic? I could ask my local authority but I would just like to know the pros and cons. Also if my child is autistic do you recommend the state education or private?


Hi, my child has medical diagnosis of Williams syndrome (can cause mild-severe learning difficulties along with other things). They are not school age yet but we are looking at getting EHCP process started. They have OT and SLT though only showing mild delay so far- would LEA be likely to agree to an assessment if we have diagnosis and is the request better coming from a professional rather than us?

Tania Tirraoro

Hi have you spoken to your child’s SENCo? What support are they already getting? Presumably they are on SEN Support? If you apply for an EHCP the LA will want to know what has already been tried and why you feel your child needs help at statutory level. A diagnosis is helpful but far from a guarantee as EHCPs are education-based. OT and SLT can be education or health provision, so if your child needs them to enable them to access the education curriculum, then they would be education provision. Schools get £6000 delegates funding for each child with SEN.… Read more »


Thanks Tania,
The nursery SENCO has put together an IEP for him to assist communication and understanding. I think we’ll probably need to wait until he moves into their pre-school to see fully what extra support he needs.
Thanks for your help

Tania Tirraoro

The EHCP covers 0-25, so your child is already old enough. If you are sure he will need that support, then begin to gather as much evidence as you can, including what is known about Williams syndrome and learning difficulties. Ask the nursery to contact the LA and request an Educational Psychology assessment if you haven’t had one done. They SHOULD be able to tell you about the EHCP process for the Early Years in your area. Also, this link is to the DfEs guide for Early Years in the SEND Code of Practice. Read this and pass it on… Read more »

Ingrid Senger-Perkins

My boy is on the waiting list for ASD assessment. He is 10! His new school say that his symptoms are quite severe. This is something we have been fighting for, for years. Now looking at the possibility of an EHCP. Love this checklist. It looks daunting and scary, but if he needs it, I will take it all the way.

Tania Tirraoro

Good luck to you! Check out our latest post for some more tips

Susan Statham

Hi Guys, we had a private ed pych coming into school in around a months time, he is going to do a full asessment on my son, the peadatrician has said she will decide on making a decision of a diagnoses of Asd when she sees the report and also the one from Salt, we have had the Salt report back which says he has socail communication difficulties. Also not so long back we saw a private Ot who basically said he has Sensory proccessing disorder. My son also has Hypercussis. He is very violent, hes always threatening to kill… Read more »

Tania Tirraoro

Hi your on should be on SEN Support now, ask the senco to explain this to you. It is better for you to apply for the EHCP; you can ask the LA for an independent supporter to help you through the process. Have a look at our Flow charts (link in left sidebar) for how everything works. Gather all your documents and also write down your child’s history from birth, carefully noting all the difficulties, when they appeared etc. Follow the advice above, step by step. Ensure the school will write a supportive statement and ask to see it before… Read more »

Susan Statham

Tania school say they are supporting him and they are dont get me wrong, the learning mentor will see him some days and he has a box where he will put happy thoughts and sad thoughts, he was in a sensory group however they dont have the money for that at the moment, he is supposed to be on a sensory diet all day everyday but i cannot be hypocritical i do not always follow it 100% myself so how can I say anything about school not doing it? there was a point where he was kicking off going into… Read more »

Tania Tirraoro

I’m sure they do, but if they are not meeting his needs, then they need to look into why that is. Your son has one shot at education and if they are not making progress then you should have a meeting and decide together how they can support you to apply for statutory assessment. If they apply and. You are turned down, they can’t appeal, so you should put in the application. if you haven’t already, you should also ask for a referral to CAMHS. It can come from your school or your GP.

Susan Statham

Thanks Tania, he is progressing, probably a little behind but not drastically, although i havent actually been told what his levels are, i always am told hes doing ok and he probably is,i just think he struggles with english.

Tania Tirraoro

He doesn’t need to be behind in levels, for eg. My son was top of the class but his ASD meant he couldn’t relate to the world. He was statemented with little difficulty.
Good luck!

Susan Statham

Thanks for all your help Tania i really appreciate it, i thought me may have hadmore difficulty because he doesnt have a learning difficulty, but now youve said that, that makes me feel more confident.

Tania Tirraoro

Don’t get me wrong – an EHCP is education based. But many different things can input on that. The SEND Code of Practice identifies the four areas of need as 1. Communication and interaction 2. Cognition and learning 3. Social, mental and emotional health 4. Sensory and/or physical Many children and young people have difficulties that fit clearly into one of these areas; some have needs that span two or more areas; for others the precise nature of their need may not be clear at the outset. It is therefore important to carry out a detailed individual assessment of each… Read more »

Susan Statham

Thanks so much for all the info Tania I really appreciate it x

Tania Tirraoro

You’re welcome – don’t forget to sign up for post alerts and free membership (sign ups page) to keep up to date.