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Education Health and Care Needs Assessments and Plans

Annual reviews

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We can help you understand what happens during a review of an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan), and how you can make sure that you and your child are fully involved in the process.

The purpose of annual reviews

Your child's EHC Plan will need to change as your child grows and as their situation and goals develop.

The purpose of an EHC Plan annual review is to ensure that the contents of your child or young person’s EHC Plan are still relevant and are helping them to make progress towards the aspirations and the outcomes in their plan.

The SEND Code of Practice says:

EHC Plans should be used to actively monitor children and young people’s progress towards their outcomes and longer term aspirations. They must be reviewed by the local authority as a minimum every 12 months. Reviews must focus on the child or young person’s progress towards achieving the outcomes specified in the EHC Plan. The review must also consider whether these outcomes and supporting targets remain appropriate

See further information in the (paragraphs 9.166 to 9.201) and the .

The annual review creates an opportunity for parents, the child or young person to meet with professionals and those who support them to:

  • review progress made by your child, or young person
  • consider whether the provision in the EHC Plan is still needed
  • discuss any necessary changes to the EHC Plan

See further advice from the Council for Disabled Children:

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When to review an EHC Plan

When a child or young person has an EHC Plan there is an ongoing requirement for the plan to be reviewed by the local authority at least annually.

Where an EHC Plan is amended, the following review must be held within 12 months of the date of issue of the original EHC Plan or previous review, not 12 months from the date the amended EHC Plan is issued ( 9.197).

If your child is in Early Years then their EHC Plan should be reviewed every 3 to 6 months ( 9.178).

For children and young people moving between phases of education the annual review and any amendments, including the name of the setting they will attend in September, must be completed by:

  • 15 February, for children moving from early years to primary and primary to secondary
  • 31 March, for young people moving on from secondary school to further education or training

Read the (sections 9.179 to 9.183) for more information about transfer between phases of education.

When your child moves to a new key stage it's important to have enough time to place the move. The legal guidance says a review of an EHC Plan, and any changes to it, must happen to allow enough time for proper planning. For example children moving to secondary school in September will have their EHC Plan review in the autumn term of Year 6. The same will apply for young people moving from secondary school to college.

You can also request early annual reviews with the local authority.

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The annual review process

The local authority must ensure that an annual meeting to review your child’s EHC Plan takes place. Usually this task arranged by the child or young person's educational setting, and they then provide a report of the meeting to the local authority.

You and your child or young person must be given 2 weeks' notice of the date of the meeting, and any professional relevant to your child’s EHC Plan must also be invited.

Other professionals involved across education, health and care services may also be invited to attend and update information about your child as part of the review. Any information received should be circulated 2 weeks before the meeting takes place.

These reviews should be combined with social care reviews where possible.

Ahead of the meeting you will be asked for your views and those of your child. The school or setting will seek advice and information about your child from all parties invited and circulate any information gathered before the meeting. Think about anyone you would like to invite to either attend the review, or provide any updated information about your child.

There are 4 steps to the review process:

  1. gathering of views and information
  2. annual review meeting
  3. a report and recommendations
  4. local authority decision

At step 4, the local authority decision, the outcome may be that the EHC Plan should:

  • stay as it is
  • be amended
  • come to an end

The review is not completed till all 4 steps have been completed.

See further information about the annual review process:

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Preparing for an annual review

The annual review is a good way of helping to make sure that the support your child gets is working. It’s also a chance for you, and your child or young person, to suggest changes if things aren’t going so well.

It's important that you're able to attend the meeting. You can ask for review meetings to be at a time when they are convenient to you as well as for school staff and other professionals. You know your child best and it's important that you're able to share your views and aspirations so that they can be included in the review process.

The says parents’ views will be listened to and the parents will have a greater choice over their child’s special educational need and disability (SEND) support.

The annual review is more than just a meeting and preparation is key to getting the most out of the process. Look carefully at the EHC Plan as well as any notes or minutes from previous reviews. You may have reports from professionals, plus other relevant information that has been sent to you since the previous review, which you will need to consider. You can ask professionals to attend or write reports for the meeting if this would be helpful.

Schools ask parents to provide contributions to the meeting by completing section 5.2 of the EHC Plan document, but you don’t have to use this document. You may choose to write down your views in a letter or to prepare your own report, choosing a format that suits you best. You may also prefer to give your views verbally at the meeting itself and ask for them to be recorded in the meeting notes.

Whichever format you use, try jotting down your ideas and thoughts over a period of time. It can be helpful to ask other family, friends and the people that support you if they have anything to add. You might like to give examples to illustrate your points, for example: "it helps my child to trampoline after school when they are stressed", and to explain any patterns that you have seen over the years.

You may have views about your child’s current plan:

  • has your child or young person made adequate progress towards meeting each target or outcome in their EHC Plan?
  • if progress has not been made, what are the barriers preventing this?
  • has the education, health or social care provision and support your child or young person gets made a difference?
  • if your child or young person has not made progress in some areas, what do you think needs to change?
  • is there something else which could work better, are new strategies of support needed, or perhaps some new advice?
  • have there been any new assessments or observations?

Looking towards to coming year and thinking about the next EHC Plan:

  • have your child or young person’s needs changed?
  • are there any new outcomes you would like to see in the EHC Plan?
  • what provision and support will be needed for these?
  • is the education setting named in the EHC Plan still appropriate?
  • is your child or young person due to start primary or secondary school or college or are they preparing for adulthood?
  • would you, or young person, like to ask for a ?

Take your diary to the meeting so that a date can be set for the next review meeting which suits your schedule.

See further .

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The annual review meeting

The annual review meeting is an opportunity to look closely at the EHC Plan and make sure it is helping your child to achieve what they would like to be able to do as they get older.

The annual review meeting must focus on:

  • progress towards outcomes laid out in the EHC Plan
  • whether the EHC Plan remains appropriate
  • what changes might be needed to the EHC Plan

There are usually 3 parts to annual review meetings:

  • reviewing your child’s short term and long term targets, to check they are on track to meet their outcomes
  • planning any new outcomes, and looking at the provision and support to meet them
  • setting a date for the next review meeting

You will be able to propose any changes you would like to see made to the plan, for example with the support that is provided or with the outcomes themselves.

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Bringing your child to the annual review meeting

Your child or young person should be asked to participate in annual reviews. This does not mean they have to attend every meeting, but capturing their views is important. Even a very young child can have something to contribute.

Hearing your views, and the views of your child or young person, is an important part of the review process. Your child’s wishes and feelings must be taken into account.

From the age of 14 (Year 9), your child may be involved in discussions about preparation for adulthood. Read more on .

The makes clear that from the last academic day of the school year in which a young person reaches the age of sixteen (year 11 onwards), the local authority and other agencies should normally engage with the young person, rather than the parent. It is the young person who is given the right of appeal against decisions made about their support and, where there are different views, the views of the young person should prevail over those of the parent.

A teaching assistant, the school or college Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) may help your child or young person complete section 5.1 of the EHC Plan document but they don’t have to use this document. They may choose to write down their views in a letter or to prepare their own report, choosing a format that suits them best. They may also prefer to give their views verbally at the meeting itself and ask for them to be recorded in the meeting notes.

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Next steps after the annual review meeting

Following an annual review meeting recommendations may suggest that:

  • the outcomes or support in an EHC Plan should change
  • the outcomes or support should stay the same, for example if your child isn’t moving to a new key stage
  • the outcomes or support should not change, but the nursery, school or college may write new short-term targets for your child or young person to work towards; you should be consulted on any short-term targets

Following the meeting the review paperwork will be completed, usually this is done by the chairperson in the meeting, the school SENCO or head teacher.

The review paperwork must set out recommendations about any changes needed to the EHC Plan. It must also include any differences between what the school said and what others at the meeting recommended.

You can contact the Special Educational Designated Officer in the SEN Team at the local authority (SENDO) after the meeting if you spot something incorrect or missing from the review paperwork circulated, or if you have additional information you would like them to consider.

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Decisions following an annual review

The SENDO will review the paperwork and to decide what should happen next.

The local authority will make one of 3 decisions:

  • to keep the EHC Plan the same
  • to make changes to the EHC Plan
  • to end the EHC Plan

They have 4 weeks from the date of the annual review meeting to let you know their decision.

Usually the local authority will give reasons for their decision but, if this is not provided, you can ask for their reasons.

Amending an EHC Plan after a review

The says “If the plan needs to be amended, the local authority should start the process of amendment without delay”.

If the decision is to make changes to the EHC Plan, the local authority must:

  • send a copy of the EHC Plan to you, or to the young person, with notice of proposed amendments
  • include any evidence supporting the amendments

You will have 15 calendar days to comment on the content of the EHC Plan. You will also be asked to request a particular school or college.

Within 8 weeks of sending the proposed amendments, the local authority must:

  • issue an amended plan, or;
  • let you know if they have decided not to amend the plan

If the local authority fails to keep to this deadline, they are in breach of the law and you can make a complaint.

Ending an EHC Plan after a review

An EHC Plan will cease in cases where:

  • the outcomes have all been achieved
  • the young person does not want to continue in further education or training
  • the young person goes to university
  • the young person is over the age of 25

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Dealing with disagreements

If you disagree with a local authority decision you have the following options:

  • going to mediation or dispute resolution
  • appealing to the SEND Tribunal

These options are available regardless of whether the disagreement relates to a decision to:

  • leave the plan unchanged
  • amend the plan, or any of the proposed amendments
  • end the plan

You can also request a meeting with the SENCO to discuss their decision, and where appropriate, any proposed changes to the EHC Plan including changes to the named school or college.

You have 2 months from the date of the decision letter to make an appeal.

See further information about , including information about appealing an annual review decision.

The ISPEA website also includes .

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Early annual reviews

A review can happen sooner than 12 months, if needed.

Reviews within 12 months may be called an early, interim or emergency review rather than an annual review. The process and paperwork for early reviews are the same.

An early review can be held at any time. You, or a young person can ask for an early review if you believe that there is an urgent need for a change to the child or young person’s EHC Plan.

Reasons for requesting an early review may include:

  • your child or young person’s situation is deteriorating
  • there is a threat of exclusion
  • the school feels it is unable to meet the child’s needs at any time

The school may arrange an early review if they have concerns, or you can ask the local authority to arrange one.

You should ask for a review to be arranged as soon as possible. However, there is no statutory duty to the school or local authority to comply with such requests.

The IPSEA website includes advice about , as well as a draft letter for parents to request a review.

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Related information and useful links