Guide to Specialist Learning Support

At North Road, we are in the final stages of opening our new Centre for Exceptional Children, focussing on providing children with mild to moderate learning difficulties the opportunity to embrace their faith at the same time as nurturing their specific needs for each individual to be successful

For parents of children with special educational needs (SEN), securing the best possible education is key to ensuring children’s potential is nurtured and developed by experts with the appropriate training, resources and understanding of need.

Where to place a child with SEN is a highly personal choice and one that may need to take into account a number of factors including location and available provision, and parents will often need to be proactive and resilient to ensure their child’s rights to specialist education are upheld.

For parents just beginning the SEN journey – it can seem like a challenging and complex landscape to navigate, however, it’s vital to remember that children with SEN have a right to receive special educational provision. Please see the Local Offer on the school’s website

Here’s what you need to know…

Requesting an EHC Assessment

The first step to securing the best possible education for a child who may have SEN is to speak to your Child’s class teacher and together secure outcomes to support their need and ensure that they are successful and confident within their educational setting.

If your child needs additional support, school or parents may need to request an EHC needs assessment. This is an assessment of a child or young person’s education, health and care needs.

An EHC needs assessment is needed to get an Education, Health and Care plan (EHC plan). The education system is based on the assumption that all children and young people will attend mainstream education unless in certain circumstances.  Specialist settings are only available to children and young people who have an EHC Plan, unless in exceptional circumstances. An EHC plan can result in additional support, funding or specialist placement for a child or young person with special educational needs.

If a local authority is requested to carry out an EHC needs assessment by a parent, young person, school or college, the only questions they should be considering are: whether the child or young person has or may have SEN and whether they may need special educational provision to be made through an EHC plan. If the answer to both of these questions is yes, they must carry out an EHC needs assessment, according to the law.

A request for an EHC needs assessment can be made at any time, this includes children from age 0-25 years old.. A child’s school or nursery usually makes the initial request for an EHC needs assessment with consent from the family.  However, parents do have the right to make the request themselves and should do this if the school or nursery has not.

The local authority must reply to a request for an EHC needs assessment within six weeks (this is required by regulation 4(1) of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014). They should always reply to the parent or young person directly – even where the request was made by the school or college.

The EHC Plan

An Educational Health and Care (EHC) Plan is the foundation on which decisions about the future direction of a child’s education are based.

Once an EHC needs assessment has been made, a draft EHC Plan is drawn up – legally, this needs to be sent to parents within 14 weeks of being requested.

This draft plan will include information on the child or young person’s SEN, health and care needs, the provision required to meet each of those needs, and the outcomes that should be achieved. It will also record the child or young person’s aspirations, views and feelings. At this stage, the plan does not include suggested schools or types of placement.

Parents are given 15 days to respond to the draft plan – with the opportunity to make comments, suggest a particular school or placement, or request a meeting to discuss the plan.

Once this feedback has been taken into account, the Local Authority will draft a final EHC Plan which outlines the SEN provision the young person is legally entitled to. The plan will name the type of provision the young person is entitled to, and it will normally also have the name of a particular school or college.

If an institution is named in an EHC plan, it must admit the child or young person and put the educational provision in the EHC plan into place. If the parent or young person requested a particular school, college or other institution, the LA should have consulted with that institution.

When a final EHC plan is issued the parent or young person has a right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal) if they are unhappy about the description of a child or young person’s SEN; the SEN provision specified in the EHC plan; the specified school or college in the EHC plan; or the fact that no school or college is included in the plan.

EHC plans should be updated annually, through an annual review, but if the young person, parent or school feel that the plan needs to be reviewed sooner, an interim review can be called at any time.If your Local Authority is not acting in accordance with your child’s EHC plan you can request a Judicial Review – where the High Court reviews the decisions of public bodies.

If you would like any further information about the support available at North Road, please email