Must schools spend £6000 on support before requesting an EHC assessment for a child?
We have pupils with a hearing loss to whom we provide a high level of support from the sensory support service. When schools apply for an EHC plan they find it difficult to evidence where they have spent £6000 as they are not able to put our service down, as it is not a direct cost to them. Is it a legal requirement for them to have spent this amount of money in order to progress with assessment.
The LA also ask that the children have a 2 year delay academically. This is not always a true reflection of the needs of the child.
Neither of the criteria you have mentioned are legal requirements for securing an EHC needs assessment.
The legal test that all LAs must apply is set out in s. 36(8) of the Children and Families Act 2014. No other test applies (and this is the only test that the SEND Tribunal will consider if the LA refuses to assess and the parent/young person appeals). The test can be summarised as two questions:
- does the child/young person have or may they have special educational needs (SEN); and
- might it be necessary for special educational provision (SEP) to be secured for these SEN under an EHC Plan?
If the answer to both these questions is “Yes” then the LA must carry out an EHC needs assessment.
Schools and parents need to demonstrate that a child/young person has or may have SEN and these may require SEP to be made under an EHC Plan. The evidence required to do this will be different for every child/young person and will depend on the nature of that child/young person’s particular SEN and circumstances.
Remember that the real work of investigating the nature and extent of a child/young person’s SEN and the provision these require is done by the LA during the EHC needs assessment itself!