Despite the challenges at the moment due to COVID-19, formal reviews of a child’s or young person’s Education, Health & Care Plan should still be considered and completed where practicable.
Temporary Changes due to COVID-19
Only the timings to the Annual Review process may have changed – The Government recently issued ‘Amendment Regulations’ to be in place between 1st May and 25th September 2020 which state that during this period:
“Where it is not reasonably practicable or is impractical to meet that time limit for a reason relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus the specific time limit in the regulations being amended will not apply. Instead, the local authority or other body to whom that time limit applies will have to complete the process as soon as reasonably practicable”.
In other words if for reasons (only) due to Covid-19, for example: a meeting cannot be held, paperwork obtained, staff not working in the same way etc, then the annual review and the meeting may need to be delayed, BUT it should happen as soon as it is possible to do so.
Any timings mentioned in the information below therefore should be assessed against the above temporary changes.
Although a face to face meeting is very unlikely to be held during this period, other ways could and should be considered i.e. virtual meetings, telephone conferencing etc. It is important to note however, that the annual review should still involve the participation and views from all professionals, parents, children & young people etc. as they would in normal circumstances (see below).
Introduction to Annual Reviews
All children and young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan will have an annual review which is a process that must happen by law.
According to the CoP 2015 EHC Plans must:
- be reviewed by the local authority as a minimum every 12 months.
- focus on the child or young person’s progress towards achieving the outcomes specified in the EHC plan.
- also consider whether these outcomes and supporting targets remain appropriate.
What is an Annual Review?
The Annual Review itself is a process, (not just a meeting) and this process is not completed until the following steps have all been done.
- Information must be gathered from parents and young people and from professionals about the EHC plan and then circulated two weeks before the meeting.
- An annual review meeting must take place to discuss the EHC plan.
- After the meeting a report of what happened must be prepared and circulated to everyone who attended or submitted information to be discussed.
- After the meeting the LA reviews the EHC Plan
- The LA must then notify the parent of the child or young person of their decision within four weeks of the meeting.
There are only 3 decisions the LA can make:
- To maintain the EHC plan in its current format (not make any changes);
- To amend the EHC plan (including change of named school in Section I)
- To cease the EHC plan if they think it is no longer necessary for it to be in place
Who organises it?
The local authority can require certain nurseries and schools * to convene and hold the meeting on the local authority’s behalf.
*maintained schools, maintained nursery schools, academy schools, alternative provision academies pupil referral units, non-maintained special schools, independent educational institutions approved under Section 41 of the Children and Families Act 2014
They should also provide a list to The CCG (or, where relevant, NHS England) and Local authority officers responsible for social care for children and young people with SEN or disabilities
When should an Annual Review take place?
The local authority should provide a list of those requiring an annual review that term to the education setting at least two weeks before the start of each term.
- The first review of the EHC plan must be held within 12 months of the EHC plan being finalised
- Further reviews must be held annually within 12 months of the previous review.
- For those under 5, reviews should take place every 6 months
A note about Early / Emergency Reviews
Sometimes, it might be necessary to ask for an early review. This may be because:
- the child or young person’s education, health or social care needs have changed and are no longer accurately described in the EHC plan; or
- the education, health or social care provision in the EHC plan is no longer meeting the child or young person’s needs.
- If the child or young person has been excluded from school or is considered to be a risk of exclusion, this would also be a good reason to ask for an early review
Before the Annual review meeting
At least 2 weeks before the meeting:
An invitation to attend the annual review meeting must be sent to:
- Child’s Parent or young person
- Representative of school or other institution attended
- LA SEN officer
- Health Service representative
- LA Social Care representative
- Other individuals relevant to the review should also be invited (e.g. youth offending teams, job coaches etc)
AND – The school (or the LA) must seek advice and information about the child or young person prior to the meeting from all parties invited, and then circulate to all those invited.
Any professionals involved with the child or young person must co-operate with local authorities during reviews.
- For looked after children the annual review should, where possible, coincide with the personal education plan (PEP) element of their Care Plan.
- When a young person is over 18, the local authority must look at whether the educational or training outcomes specified in the EHC plan have been achieved.
- Local authorities must also review and maintain an EHC plan when a child or young person has been released from custody. The LA must involve the child’s parent or the young person in reviewing whether the EHC plan still reflects their needs accurately and should involve the youth offending team in agreeing appropriate support and opportunities.
A note about Parent’s, children and young people’s views
The review is not just about how school has gone in the past year – it is to consider the progress towards the outcomes in the EHCP and what changes might need to be made to the support that is provided to help them achieve those outcomes, or even whether changes are needed to the outcomes themselves.
The short-term targets should also be looked at and changed if appropriate and the child’s aspirations should be discussed in case these have changed during the year.
Support for children and young people to engage in the meeting can come from parents or teachers or other independent support or contacts.
During the meeting
- The meeting should be person centred, this means that the child or young person is central to the meeting.
- The meeting is not about them but for them and a time to talk about how they can be supported to reach their outcomes.
- The meeting should be held at a time and a place that is comfortable and suitable for their needs.
- They should feel part of what is going on and encouraged to contribute.**
- They can bring someone to support them if they wish to.
** It is a good idea to encourage children and young people to become involved in their review meetings as soon as they are able to – but certainly from about year 9 onwards if possible. They may only attend for a short time to start with, but this helps them become involved in the decisions that affect their lives.
Practical tips for the meeting
- Take someone with you if you need support.
- Take a list of questions with you.
- Write down any notes that you think are significant or actions that are agreed.
- Don’t be afraid to say what is on your mind.
- Ask for things to be repeated or rephrased if needed.
- You are the expert on your child!
See our previous blog for further meeting tips
Other things to note for special circumstances:
- For those transferring from secondary school to a post-16 institution, the EHC plan must be reviewed and amended by 31 March in the year of transfer.
- From Year 9 onwards, the local authority has a duty to ensure that the annual review meeting “consider[s] what provision is required to assist the child or young person in preparation for adulthood and independent living”. Discussions about their future should focus on what they want to achieve and the best way to support them to achieve. Planning must be centred around the individual and explore the child or young person’s aspirations and abilities, what they want to be able to do when they leave post-16 education or training and the support they need to achieve their ambition.
- For all other phases of transfer, the deadline is 15 February in the year of transfer for the EHC Plan to be reviewed and amended.
- For those transferring schools, after the review, the EHC plan should state that they will continue to attend their current setting until the end of the academic year (or another date if different), and then name the setting they will attend from the start of the next academic year.
After the meeting
The report must set out recommendations on any amendments required to the EHC plan, and should refer to any difference between the school or other institution’s recommendations and those of others attending the meeting
- The person leading the review must write a report.
- This is sent to all who were invited to the meeting within 2 weeks of the meeting taking place.
- The report must set out recommendations on any amendments required to the EHC plan, and should refer to any difference between the school or other institution’s recommendations and those of others attending the meeting
- The local authority must then Review the report whether it proposes to:
- keep the EHC plan as it is (maintain)
- Make changes to the plan (amend) or
- Stop the plan (cease to maintain)
- The Local authority must notify the child’s parent or the young person and the school/college of their decision within 4 weeks of the meeting (and within 12 months of the date of issue of the EHC plan or previous review).
If the LA have not informed you of their decision within four weeks of the annual review meeting taking place, then you should contact your Planning Coordinator in writing. Remember to keep a copy of any letter or email you send.
Amending the EHC plan
If the plan needs to be amended, the local authority should start the process of amendment without delay.
If the LA proposes to amend the EHC Plan, you should receive a copy of the existing (non-amended) plan and an accompanying notice with details of the proposed amendments (including evidence to support these). You may request a meeting to discuss these proposals if you wish. CoP 9.194
You must be given at least 15 calendar days to comment and make representations on the proposed changes, including requesting a particular school or other institution be named in the EHC plan. CoP 9.195
Following representations from the child’s parent or the young person, if the local authority decides to continue to make amendments, it must issue the amended EHC plan as quickly as possible and within 8 weeks of the original amendment notice. If the local authority decides not to make the amendments, it must notify the child’s parent or the young person, explaining why, within the same time limit. CoP 9.196
Ceasing the EHC Plan
A local authority may cease to maintain an EHC plan only if it determines that it is no longer necessary for the plan to be maintained, or if it is no longer responsible for the child or young person.
Where a local authority is considering ceasing to maintain a child or young person’s EHC plan it must:
- inform the child’s parent or the young person that it is considering this
- consult the child’s parent or the young person
- consult the school or other institution that is named in the EHC plan
Where the child’s parent or the young person disagrees with the local authority’s decision to cease their EHC plan, they may appeal to the Tribunal. Local authorities must continue to maintain the EHC plan until the time has passed for bringing an appeal or, when an appeal has been registered, until it has been concluded.
What can I do if I disagree with the LA’s decision?
The letter you receive from the LA should state the reasons for any decisions and what you are able to do if you do not agree.
If you are not happy with the explanation or do not agree with their decision, we would recommend talking to your planning coordinator first.
If you still do not agree, you may also wish to consider mediation or appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal (SEND).
In terms of decisions made after a Review, parents and young people can appeal to the Tribunal about:
- the description of a child or young person’s SEN specified in an EHC plan, the special educational provision specified, the school or other institution or type of school or other institution (such as a mainstream school/college) specified in the plan or that no school or other institution is specified
- an amendment to these elements of the EHC plan
- a decision by a local authority not to amend an EHC plan following a review or re-assessment
- a decision by a local authority to cease to maintain an EHC plan
For more detailed information around the Annual Review process as well as associated paperwork please look on the Local offer.
For leaflets about the Annual Review or Appeals as well as other leaflets please go to our Website.
If you would like to discuss anything related to an Annual Review, please contact us at SENDIAS by:
Telephone: 0330 222 8555 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org