The annual review is the statutory process of looking at the needs and provision specified in an EHC Plan and deciding whether these need to change.
The first review of the EHC plan must be held within 12 months of the EHC plan being finalised. Subsequent reviews must be held within 12 months of the previous review.
Your local authority is responsible for carrying out your EHCP annual review but in most cases the local authority delegates organisation of the review meeting to your child’s school.
This is to look at how your child is progressing and to ensure that the plan is kept up to date.
The annual review as a formal process must follow certain legal requirements. It includes a meeting, but this is not the only part of the process. The responsibility for carrying out annual reviews lies with the local authority, but in most cases the local authority delegates organisation of the review meeting to your child’s school.
The following steps must take place in an annual review:
- The LA must consult with the parent of the child or young person (and with the school or institution being attended if there is one) about the EHC plan, and take account of their views, wishes and feelings.
- An annual review meeting must take place to discuss the EHC plan.
- Information must be gathered from parents and young people and from professionals about the EHC plan and then circulated two weeks before the meeting.
- 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 notify the parent of the child or young person of their decision within four weeks of the meeting.
All these steps, not just the meeting must be followed in order for an annual review to be completed.
The Review Meeting
The purpose of the meeting is to gather everyone’s opinion about how your child is being supported and to make recommendations about any changes needed to the EHC plan. The meeting must consider the following:
- Progress made towards achieving the outcomes in the EHC plan.
- For young people in year 9 and above, provision required to help the young person move into adulthood.
It should also consider:
- The effectiveness of the special educational provision specified in the EHC plan.
- The effectiveness of the health and social care provision in achieving progress towards outcomes in the EHC plan.
- Whether your child still needs an EHC plan.
- Any changes needed to the EHC plan, for example more or different help or a change of school.
- The meeting should also set interim targets for the following year.
Interim or emergency reviews
Interim or Emergency Reviews can be held at any time, e.g. if the child’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.
In that event the school can arrange the review and/or the parent can ask the LA to arrange one. However, there is no statutory duty to the school/LA to comply with such requests.
What if I have an ongoing appeal?
The annual review must take place within 12 months of the last review, or of the date the EHC plan was first issued. This is not affected by an ongoing appeal; therefore, the annual review needs to take place.
The annual review could be an opportunity to try and resolve some of the issues in dispute. If the LA issues a new amended EHC plan after the annual review, this can be treated as a working document in the current appeal, rather than the parent having to register a new appeal.
After the Annual Review meeting
Once the local authority has held the annual review meeting it is then legally required to send a notice within four weeks stating whether it proposes
- Amending the plan,
- Ceasing the plan or,
- Continuing the plan in its existing form.
If the local authority proposes to keep the Plan as it is or cease to maintain the Plan, this will generate a right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
However, if the local authority decides to amend the Plan, there is no time limit by which it must send the amendment notice. The code of practice simply states that where the decision is to amend, the local authority should start the process of amendment without delay
It is only when the notice with proposed amendments to the Plan is sent, that the local authority needs to comply with an 8-week deadline to finalise the amended Plan.