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EHCP Annual Review Process

As time goes by, things will change for your child. They will make progress and get older and their situation and goals will change. So, their Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) will need to change from time to time too.

A child or young person’s EHCP must be reviewed at least once a year by the Local Authority. This is to ensure it continues to provide the support the child or young person needs. 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.

If your child is under five, then the local authority may do a review of their plan every six months. This is because their needs are likely to change more quickly than an older child’s.

There are four main parts to the review process.

  1. Gathering views and information – your child’s views, your views and those of the professionals involved
  2. A review meeting where those views are shared and discussed
  3. Writing a report and recommendations based on the information and views that have been shared
  4. Deciding whether the plan should stay as it is, be changed or come to an end – and then changing the plan if needed.

The Annual Review is more than just a review meeting. It is a process that must be completed on or before the anniversary of when the EHCP was first issued or the anniversary of the last review. It is laid down in law and in the SEND Code of Practice (CoP). There are five steps involved.

Although the overall review process is the Local Authority's (LA) responsibility, it is usual practice for steps one to four to be delegated by the LA to the school, or other education provider, referred to on this page as the host.

Watch the following video from CDC for more information on annual reviews.

EHCP Annual Review Timeline

Step 1
The host will write to all the professionals involved with the child or young person. This may also include specific professionals employed by the school. They must also write to the parent or young person inviting them to contribute their views, wishes and feelings.

This should include their view of the current arrangements. It should provide an opportunity to discuss changes which the parent or young person may want to be made to the EHCP.

These reports should be sent to the host within two weeks of the request being made.

“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.” (CoP 9.166)

Step 2
The host will then send out invitations to all those required to attend (CoP 9.176), at least two weeks before the date of the Annual Review meeting.
The host is also required to circulate copies of all the reports they have received with the invitations. This will usually be the same people they contacted in Step 1. It may also include others if it is thought their assistance or contribution may be required.

Step 3
The Annual Review meeting should be held in the style of a Person-Centred Planning Meeting. Whatever format the meeting takes, it must enable full involvement of the parent, child or young person and consider their views wishes and feelings especially when making decisions. (CoP 9.166 to 9.168 and Section 19 Principles).

Including the 7 points below will help to ensure that the meeting does not simply focus on how things have been in the past year in school, but will be looking forward.

The meeting should:

  1. Focus on progress made towards achieving outcomes
  2. Establish whether the current outcomes remain appropriate and if required agree new ones
  3. Review the short-term targets and set new ones
  4. Review the special educational provision and the arrangements for delivering it to ensure it is still appropriate and enabling good progress
  5. Review any health and social care provision and check its effectiveness towards achieving the outcomes
  6. Check if the aspirations have changed
  7. Check if the parent or young person would like to request a Personal Budget

Reviews must be undertaken in partnership with the child and their parent or the young person, and must take account of their views, wishes and feelings, including their right to request a Personal Budget.

Step 4
After the meeting, the host 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. This must be sent to everyone who had been invited and the LA within two weeks of the meeting taking place.
Step 5
Upon receiving the report, the LA must decide which one of the three following options applies. Whether the EHCP:

  • Should remain unchanged
  • Needs to be amended
  • Should be ceased 

The LA must inform the parent or young person of this decision within four weeks from the Annual Review meeting and this date should be no later than the anniversary of either when the EHCP was first issued, or the last review meeting.

What Happens Next?

If the LA decides on option 1 or 3 they must inform the parent or young person of the following:

  • Their right of appeal to the tribunal and the time limits for this to take place
  • The requirement for them to consider mediation if they decide to appeal
  • Their right to receive information, advice, and support

The EHCP must be maintained until the two-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.

If the LA decides on option 2 they should make the amendments as soon as possible. 

The LA must:

  • Send to the parent 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. This may include additional reports and notes from the meeting
  • Give the parent or young person at least 15 calendar days to respond with their views. This could include naming a school.  They should also be informed of their right to meet with the LA to discuss the proposed changes

Once the LA has received its response from the parent or young person, within eight weeks of when they informed the parent or young person of the proposed changes, the LA must either issue an amended EHCP or inform parents or the young person they will not be amending it and give their reasons why.

They must inform parents or young person of:

  • Their right of appeal to the tribunal and the time limits for this to take place
  • The requirement for them to consider mediation if they decide to appeal
  • Their right to receive information, advice and support

If the amended EHCP is issued it should clearly state it is an amended version and be dated. It should be clear which parts have been amended. It should have attached to it the additional reports and the information from the review meeting that have informed the decision. It should still clearly state the date the original EHCP was issued as this will still be the date that determines when the next Annual Review is to be completed by.

The LA must also inform the parent or young person of:

  • Their right of appeal to the tribunal and the time limits for this to take place
  • The requirement for them to consider mediation if they decide to appeal
  • Their right to receive information, advice, and support

This is particularly important if the parent or young person is unhappy or not satisfied with the changes that have been made to the EHCP.

Additional Information to be Aware of Regarding Annual Reviews

EHCP's are not expected to require frequent changes and updates. When they do need amending, rather than requiring a full re-assessment, there should be supporting evidence to inform any changes.

However, a LA can refuse a request for a re-assessment if less than six months have passed since the last EHC needs assessment was conducted, or 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.

Although the annual review process is laid out in the Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice 2015, the actual format of the meeting will differ from setting to setting but should cover the principles of a person-centred review. This page is a guide to the basic process for Annual Reviews, but there are some variations relating to particular age groups or specific situations to be aware of.

These relate to:

  • Children moving from one phase of education to another requiring their EHCP to be amended by February 15
  • Children and young people moving to post-16 provision requiring their EHCP to be amended by March 31
  • Children in Year 9 (and following years) whose Annual Reviews are to be treated as Preparing for Adulthood (PFA) and must include consideration for employment, independent living and their inclusion in their community and society
  • Young people moving between post-16 institutions must be reviewed and amended five months before the transfer is due to happen
  • When a child and young person doesn’t attend a school or other type of education provision
  • When a child or young person has been released from custody     

The Annual Review is required to check all sections of the EHCP. It is not just about the educational targets and provision. It can provide an opportunity for parents and young people to request changes and updates.

Section A 
Aspirations should be checked to see if they remain the same. There may be additional aspirations to be included perhaps due to new experiences, interests, or circumstances.

Section B 
New needs may have emerged, or existing needs changed and are having an impact on other areas of their life (inside or outside of school). Or, the parent, child or young person may not feel their needs are described accurately or be a true representation of who they are. An example may be where a need has been described in the EHCP as a behaviour issue when the underlying reason behind the behaviour has now been identified as being due to a communication disorder or learning difficulty.

Section C
There may be a new diagnosis or on-going investigations. Health conditions included may have stabilised or improved. Alternatively, what had previously been reported as a relatively stable health condition may now be less so.

Section D
Change of circumstances may have occurred, or a more up to date assessment has now been completed that should be included. Parent or young person may request an assessment of their Social Care needs.

Section E
Outcomes are expected to last for two to three years, but they still need to be reviewed to check they are still relevant, are SMART or changed (short-term targets will also be reviewed, and new targets set).

Section F
There should be provision to match each need included in section B. Perhaps some of the provision did not occur or has not been as effective as expected or perhaps there is an alternative approach that could be tried.

Section G
Anything included here requires agreement by the LA from the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). Any health provision, such as Speech and Language Therapy, that educates, or trains must be included in Section F.

Sections H1 & 2
Any provision included here will depend on what needs, if any have been included in Section D. It must be reviewed and may have already changed since it was originally included.

Section I
If relevant the suitability of the school (or placement) may also be discussed. The parent or young person may want to ask for a different school or type of school if they believe it will provide a better match to their needs.

Section J
Any Personal Budget (PB) already in place should be reviewed, particularly where provision has been amended. This is also an opportunity to request a PB if the parent or young person would like one.

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