and what to do when they are not!

Reports by therapists outside of the NHS must be recognised by Local Authorities when the additional support needed by a child is required for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). The SEN and Disability Code of Practice (2015) is quite clear on this point – there is no basis in law for any Local Authority to reject a professional assessment or diagnostic report simply because it was part of a private assessment.

The SEN and Disability Code of Practice (SEND) is statutory guidance issued by the government – it contains detail on what Local Authorities should consider.

Paragraph 9.14 of the Code states that “the local authority should consider whether there is evidence that despite the early year’s provider, school or post-16 institution having taken relevant and purposeful action to identify, assess and meet the special educational needs of the child or young person, the child or young person has not made expected progress”. 

The advice given within the Code covers the relevant education, health, and care needs of the child or young person, as well as the views, wishes, and feelings of the parent. 

The Local Authority (LA) is expected to pay particular attention to:

  • Evidence of the child or young person’s academic attainment (or developmental milestones in younger children) and rate of progress;
  • Information about the nature, extent, and context of the child or young person’s SEN;
  • Evidence of the action already taken by the school or other settings;
  • Evidence that where progress has been made, it has only been as the result of much additional intervention and support over and above that which is usually provided;
  • Evidence of the child or young person’s physical, emotional and social development and health needs, drawing on relevant evidence from clinicians and other health professionals and what has been done to meet these needs by other agencies.

Refusal by a Local Authority to accept private assessments that follow NICE guidelines would suggest an omission in following clear and explicit requirements re SEND. An assessment towards or as part of diagnosis made under these terms should be regarded as credible evidence for a Tribunal – refusal to issue an EHC Plan, would be an appealable decision. This means if you appeal a Local Authority’s decision, a Tribunal would be under a lawful duty to consider all the documents placed before them, private or otherwise.

In relation to the NHS, a privately obtained report is as crucial as an NHS one. If you are advised that a private diagnosis report will be ignored, this is incorrect advice. NHS England state, “You’re still entitled to free NHS care if you choose to pay for additional private care.”

In summary, an assessment report written by a registered, specially trained, and experienced professional is as reliable, lawfully credible, and clinically crucial as an NHS report.