Before a school can apply for an EHCP (known as an EHCNA), sufficient evidence and assessments must be gathered by the school and outside agencies where appropriate. Usually the local authority like to see at least two terms of evidence under 'assess, plan, do, review', however they have the right to vary on these timescales based on the individual case, particularly where there are health needs. Once this evidence has been gathered, an application needs to be written by the SENCO. This is a long and detailed document and it can take several weeks once all evidence is in place. This is usually because the SENCO cannot solely focus on this application and will be managing the cases of all SEN pupils within the school at the same time. It is worth noting that a health professional or a parent can also complete an application, but where there is an educational need, it would be appropriate for a school to apply if it is deemed appropriate.
Once the application is submitted, the local authority have 6 weeks to decide if they will agree to assess or not. They can decide not to assess for a number of reasons and these will be listed when they write to you. Whilst this can be disappointing, it is important to liaise with the SENCO to establish if it is worth reapplying or if their decision would unlikely change.
If they agree to assess, they will then complete the assessment process. It will go back to the SEN panel and a decision will be made to issue a plan or if a child can have their needs met at SEN support level. All in all, this takes about 20 weeks from the point of the application being submitted to the local authority.