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What is an annual review?
An annual review is the statutory process of looking at the needs and provision specified in an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) and deciding whether these need to change. The purpose of the meeting is to look at how the child or young person is progressing and judge whether the EHCP is still appropriate, whether it needs to be amended or ceased. The main purpose is to review the child’s/young person’s progress towards achieving the outcomes stated in the plan (these can be found under Section E).
The Children & Families Act 2014 and SEND Code of Practice 2015 advise that review should:
‘consider the appropriateness of the EHC plan in the light of the child or young person’s progress during the previous year or changed circumstances and whether changes are required including any changes to outcomes, enhanced provision, change of educational establishment or whether the EHC plan should be discontinued’SEND Code of Practice 2015, paragraph 9.167
It is the duty of the local authority to review EHC plans. The Local Authority will ask the headteacher of your child’s school to hold the review meeting.
What steps must be taken in holding an annual review?
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.
The following steps must take place in an annual review:
- The Local Authority 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 at least two weeks before the meeting.
- Within two weeks 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 Local Authority reviews the EHC plan.
- The Local Authority must notify the parent of the child or young person of their decision (whether to amend, maintain or cease the EHC plan) within four weeks of the meeting.
All of these steps – not just the meeting – must be followed in order for an annual review to be completed. If you have concerns you wish to express in the meeting, it is worth listing in advance the points you want to make and take a supporting person with you who can check that your concerns are being addressed. Parents and young people can ask whoever is chairing the meeting to summarise a discussion or what he/she thinks is to be noted from it so that they ensure their views are noted.
The SEND Regulations 2014 state that the local authority must send its decision to the parent/young person within four weeks of the meeting.
The local authority must then decide whether it proposes to–
(a) continue to maintain the EHC plan in its current form;
(b) amend it;
(c) cease to maintain it;
and must notify the child’s parent or the young person… within four weeks of the review meeting.SEND Regulations 2014, regulation 20 (10)
Parents and young people should ask for annual reviews to be held early if there are problems, especially where it is felt the school placement is not appropriate or a child has been excluded or is at risk of permanent exclusion. Local authorities may use their discretion to bring forward an annual review and a school or parent/young person may ask for an early review. Where a child is under five – the SEND Code of Practice 2015 suggests reviewing an EHC plan for a child under five at least every three to six months to ensure that the provision continues to be appropriate.