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What is an Annual Review?
The SEND Code of Practice 2015 tells us that an Annual Review is a yearly review of a child or young person’s EHC Plan. This review gives opportunity for all the people involved with the child or young person, to look at how they are progressing towards their outcomes and longer terms aspirations specified in the EHC Plan. It is also a chance to consider whether these outcomes and supporting targets remain appropriate.
Although it states ‘annual’, it should happen as a minimum every 12 months and there may be situations where this needs to happen more frequently (for example, if the child is under 5 years old or if there have been substantial changes).
Click on the headings below to find out more information:
Isn’t it just the meeting?
No. – The Annual Review is often mistaken for just the meeting that takes place. But it is in fact a process over several weeks of gathering and assessing information, so that it can be used by the child’s or young person’s educational setting to review progress as well as their access to teaching and learning. The meeting takes place towards the end of this process and is for the discussion of the information that has been gathered, and decision making to occur about any next steps. The last part of the process requires the LA to make a final decision about whether changes etc. will be made to the EHC plan in light of the information and discussion that has taken place through the process, and to notify the relevant parties regarding this decision.
The Annual review should therefore:
- assess how a child or young person is progressing towards their outcomes and longer terms aspirations specified in the EHC plan
- review the special educational provision in the EHC plan
- review the health and social care provision
- consider the continuing appropriateness of the EHC plan
- review and/or set new interim targets for the coming year and where appropriate, agree new outcomes
Who should organise it and when?
Although the local authority is responsible for making sure an Annual Review takes place, they can either request or require (depending on the type of educational setting) that the education setting itself, organises and holds the meeting on their behalf. This will usually be done by the SENCO or the Head Teacher. In other circumstances, the LA is responsible for the invitation.
The review is not complete until all the steps have been completed (including the local authority notifying the parent carer or young person of their decision to make any amendments etc. or not.)
The first review of the EHC plan must be held within 12 months of the EHC plan being finalised. Further reviews must be held as a minimum, annually within 12 months of the previous review (not the anniversary of the finalised EHC plan).
|Prior to the 2 weeks before meeting||Send Invite to all parties|
Seek advice and information from all parties
|Setting (or LA)|
|At least 2 weeks before the meeting||Send out all the advice and information received, to all parties||Setting (or LA)|
|MEETING HELD||Setting (or LA)|
|Up to 2 weeks after the meeting||Report from meeting sent to LA||Setting (or LA)|
|Up to 4 weeks after the meeting||Parent carer or young person notified regarding the decision to amend, cease etc.||LA|
|Up to 8 weeks after the amendment notice||Amendments completed and parent carer or young person sent details||LA|
Ideally, the parent carer or young person will hear from the school or college and be able to agree a convenient time and date for the review meeting – in advance (but giving at least 2 weeks notice).
Note: It is vitally important that parent carers and/or the young person attend, so if you cannot make the date given, you should feel free to request a different one.
The education setting (or the LA) should then invite all those who have been involved with the child or young person including:
- the child’s parent carers or young person,
- a representative of the school or other institution (if attended),
- a local authority SEN officer,
- a health service representative and
- A local authority social care representative.
- Other individuals relevant to the review should also be invited, including for example youth offending teams and job coaches where relevant
As well as sending the invitation, the school or college (or the local authority if they are responsible) must ask for advice and information about the child or young person prior to the meeting from all parties invited, including the parent carer and/or young person’s views wishes and feelings.
This should include their view of the current arrangements and provide an opportunity to discuss changes which the parent carer and/or young person may want to be made to the EHCP.
The parental and/or young person’s contribution, along with the advice and information from the others invited must be circulated to all those invited and at least 2 weeks before the meeting. This means that that the initial invite should be sent prior to this, allowing time for the different parties to respond.
This allows time for everyone to read all the views, information and advice before the meeting knowing what needs to be discussed (there should never be any surprises at the meeting).
Note: You may want to consider keeping a diary note of when the last annual review was held (or when the EHCP was issued for new ones) and contacting the school 2 to 3 months before the next one is due to start getting a date and asking the school to reach out for views and updates.
If your child or young person has not had an annual review within the past 12 months then speak to your planning coordinator as well as the school. If you are not sure who the planning coordinator is you can contact your SENAT area team who will be able to tell you
About the Annual Review meeting
The meeting itself should be person centred. This means that the meeting is centered fully around the child/young person along with their views and opinions including how the meeting itself will take place. Discussion needs to take place in a way that encourages active participation and gives space, time and trust for them to voice their thoughts. 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. They may only want to attend for a short time to start with but this helps them become involved in the decisions that affect their lives. If they need to bring someone to support them then this should be allowed.
The meeting should be of a suitable length of time for discussion to be held and not be rushed. SENAT advise an average of an hour. However, in our experience where there are concerns or potential amendments to the EHC Plan needing to be discussed, the review is likely to need more time than this.
As we mentioned above – the meeting’s discussion:
- must focus on progress made towards achieving outcomes
- must establish whether the current outcomes remain appropriate and if required agree new ones
- must review the short-term targets and set new ones if needed
- must review the special educational provision and the arrangements for delivering it to ensure it is still appropriate and enabling good progress
- must check if the parent / young person would like to request a Personal Budget
- should review any health and social care provision and check its effectiveness towards achieving outcomes
- should check if their aspirations have changed (consider them in the context of paid employment, independent living and community participation especially if year 9 upwards) (CoP 9.69)
Practical tips for the meeting
- Bring someone with you – As a parent carer, if you feel that you need support in the meeting to express yourself, make notes or challenge comments, then you can bring someone with you as well. This can be your partner or any other person who understands your child and what the meeting is for.
- Read the reports before the meeting and take any notes you feel may be relevant to share at the meeting (not everyone will have read them so it could be good to highlight important points or changes).
- Make a list of questions or concerns before you go to the meeting – this can help you keep focussed and make sure you don’t forget anything you wanted to say or ask. It’s your opportunity to ask questions or share your thoughts with all the relevant people in the room who can affect your child’s or young person’s progress.
- Don’t forget – you are the expert on your child – you know them the best. They may act differently at home than at school, and the professionals may be describing your child or young person in a way you do not recognise, so it is important that both sides are given opportunity to share.
After the meeting
Within 2 weeks of the meeting taking place – the person who led the review meeting must prepare a report that includes any recommendations for amendments to be made to the EHCP. This should include where there are differences of opinions and not just the general consensus and must be sent to everyone who had been invited as well as to the LA.
Within 4 weeks of the Annual Review meeting (but no later than the anniversary of either when the EHCP was first issued or the last review), the LA should inform you as the parent carer or young person of their proposal to make one of 3 decisions regarding the EHCP. That it:
- Should remain unchanged
- Needs to be amended. This will usually be if there are significant changes, lots of changes (even minor) or a change to Section I (placement).
- Should be ceased. This will usually be because the outcomes have been achieved and/or the young person will no longer be in education. Note: Higher education such as universities would not be covered by an EHC plan.
If the EHC plan needs to be amended
The SEND Code of Practice 9.193 states that EHC plans are not expected to be amended on a very frequent basis. However, an EHC Plan may need to be amended where, for example, there are changes in health or social care provision resulting from minor or specific changes in the child or young person’s circumstances, but where a full review or re-assessment is not necessary. When an EHC Plan does need amending, there should be supporting evidence to inform any changes, and the written reports from parent carers and professionals will act as this supporting evidence.
If the LA notify you that they will be amending the EHC Plan, they should:
- Start amendments, without delay – and the amendments should be made within 8 weeks of their decision.
- Send parent carers or young person a copy of the unchanged version of the EHCP along with a notice outlining the proposed amendments.
- Include the supporting evidence for the proposed changes.
- Give parent carers or young person at least 15 calendar days to respond.
Reassessments and Cease to maintain
- Reassessments will usually be refused by a local authority if it is less than 6 months since the last EHC needs assessment was conducted, or if it thinks that a further EHC needs assessment is not necessary. For example, because it considers that the child or young person’s needs have not changed significantly.
- Cease to maintain – the LA is likely to propose ceasing to maintain a child’s or young person’s EHC plan if it considers it is no longer necessary for the child or young person to have one. This will often be due to the child or young person having met all their outcomes (educational and otherwise), going into higher education, leaving education or training altogether, or turning 25.
If a proposal is made to cease the EHC plan and parent carer or young person is appealing to the SEND Tribunal, the EHCP must be maintained until the 2-month period for the appeal to be lodged at the Tribunal has passed. If an appeal is made to the Tribunal the EHCP must be maintained until the hearing has taken place and they have given their decision.
What about early / interim / emergency reviews
Occasionally a review needs to take place before the annual one is due. This may be for several reasons:
- Education, health or social care needs have changed and are no longer accurately described in the EHC plan; and/or
- Education, health or social care provision in the EHC plan is no longer meeting the child or young person’s needs. and/or
- If the child or young person has been excluded from school or is considered to be at risk of exclusion
- If the child or young person has been put on a part time timetable with no clear end date or progress towards resuming a full time education.
- If the child or young person is struggling to attend (perhaps due to anxiety) and the strategies being used by school are not working
It is often the school itself that will suggest an interim or emergency annual review is necessary. However, if this is not the case then talk to the school as well as contacting your planning coordinator in writing. Explain what has changed or been happening (especially if it is one or more from the list above) and that the EHC Plan needs to be reviewed. If you have any up to date evidence which supports the need for any changes, then include this in your letter / email and attach a copy. And be clear about what you are asking for. Supporting evidence may be in the form of emails or letters from the school, assessment results or professional reports
As there is no right of appeal if the local authority (i.e. a representative of the SEN Assessment Team) refuses your request for an early review, you can:
What if i disagree with any of the decisions?
If you disagree with a decision made by the LA (apart from a refusal to do an early review), and have been notified of their decision formally, then you can:
SEND Code of Practice 2015 Chapter 9
Children and families act 2014 Part 3 section 44
Local Offer for forms and paperwork
SENDIAS Annual Review Leaflet (simplified version of above):
If you think you will struggle with any of this your own then please do contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on: 0330 222 8555 to discuss how we may be able to support you.