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EHCP Annual Review

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.

  • If your child has an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan it must be discussed and reviewed at least once a year.
  • The review is a review of the EHC plan, rather than a general meeting to talk about your child’s progress.
  • The review looks at the progress your child has made, the support they get and the difference that has made to them (their outcomes).
  • Hearing your views, and your child’s, is an important part of the review. The main people involved in supporting your child in school, plus other relevant professionals, will be asked for their views too.
  • Everyone involved will be asked to write and share their views ahead of a review meeting, including you and your child.
  • After the meeting, a report about what was discussed, and the recommendations, is sent to the SEND Team at the local authority.
  • The SEND Team will write and tell you what they propose to do with the plan. They could decide it will be maintained (stay the same), be amended (changed) or be ceased (come to an end). They must tell you about any changes they want make to the plan and why.
  • You have 15 calendar days to think about the local authority’s decision and tell the SEND Team whether you agree with it. You can also make comments and ask for changes.
  • If you disagree with the changes and can’t come to an agreement with the SEND Team, you have the right to appeal.
  • After a review, if the EHC plan needs to be amended (changed), the final amended plan must be issued as soon as it’s practical, and no later than 8 weeks after the local authority’s decision to change the plan. That means parents or young people should get the final amended (changed) EHC plan 12 weeks after the annual review meeting, at the latest. 

A review of your child’s EHC plan focuses on the progress they’re making towards achieving their goals (outcomes). The review doesn’t just focus on the education part of the plan – if your child has health and social care needs, these should be reviewed too.

The review is a good way of helping to make sure that the support your child is getting is working. It’s also a chance for you or your young person to suggest changes if things aren’t going so well. Your views must be heard as part of any review of the EHC plan and it’s important that you’re involved, alongside your child or young person.

These are the main things that should be talked about as part of a review.

  • Any new information that’s been collected since the plan was issued, or since the last review. This might include information from any new assessments or reassessments.
  • The educational, health or social care support that’s being given and whether your child needs more or different support.
  • Whether any changes need to be made to the outcomes or to the nursery, school or college named on the plan.
  • Whether short-term targets need to be set or reviewed.
  • Whether the EHC plan is still needed.
  • Whether you or your young person would like to ask for a personal budget.

The process and paperwork involved in the review of an EHC plan is the same whatever kind of review your child is having.

However, the reasons for a review, its focus, and the timing of a review can be different. For example, if your child is moving from key stage 2 (infants) to key stage 3 (juniors), the focus of their review will be on that, and it will need to be done by a specific time. This is because the move will need to be well planned.

These are the types of EHC plan reviews.

A standard review (sometimes referred to as an annual review, or a statutory review)

The law says the first review of an EHC plan must be held within 12 months of the date when it was issued.

After that, it must be held within 12 months of any previous review. The whole review, and not just the review meeting, must be completed in this time.

An early review

A review can happen sooner than 12 months if it’s needed.  The EHC plan may need to be reviewed before the regular review is due if your child is:

  • permanently excluded from school
    or
  • their needs have change a lot
    or
  • the support they are getting is no longer right

If your child’s situation changes and you think the plan should be reviewed, contact your EHCP Coordinator at the SEND Team to talk about it. You can ask for an early review to be done. If your child’s school or college thinks an early review is needed, they may suggest you ask for one.

A review when your child is moving to a new key stage

When your child moves to a new key stage it’s important to have enough time to plan the move well. The legal guidance says a review of an EHC plan, and any changes to it, must happen to allow enough time for proper planning.

If your child is moving to a new school the review of their EHC plan, and any changes, should be finished at the latest by 15 February in the year they move. That means the February before they move in September.

The main key stage moves are:

  • from nursery or pre-school to school
  • from key stage 1 (infant school) to key stage 2 (junior school)
  • from key stage 2 (primary school) to key stage 3 (secondary school)

A review when your young person is leaving school

When your young person leaves school, whatever they’re moving on to, it’s important to have enough time to plan it well.

If you have a young person moving from secondary school to a post-16 institution or apprenticeship, their plan should be reviewed and changed by the 31 March in the year they finish secondary school. This includes listing the support they will get post-16 and where they will be studying or training.

Because your young person is leaving school and moving into a new stage of education or training, their plan will always need to be amended.

Preparing for adulthood reviews

All reviews that happen from Year 9, when your child is 13 or 14, must include a focus on preparing for adulthood. Ideally planning should start well before this though, helping your child to become as independent as they can.

Preparing for adulthood means thinking about how your young person will

  • enter the world of work, or in some cases a volunteering role
  • how they can be as independent as possible
  • how they will become part of their local community

It’s important that your young person takes part as much as they are able, and their views are heard, understood and acted on.

These reviews should also be used to plan if and how your young person will move from child to adult health and care services. If they’re likely to need support from these services when they’re an adult, someone from the SEND Preparing for Adulthood Team should be at the review.

When you get your invitation to the review meeting, you’ll have time to think about the progress your child has made over the last year. You can use this time to:

  • look at the EHC plan
  • think about what’s worked well
  • what the goals are for the next year and
  • any changes you think are needed

It’s usually helpful to get the views of other family members and the people who support you.

You’ll be asked to give your views in a report that will be shared with the other people invited, before the meeting. Your child or young person will be asked for their views, so you may need to help them share these too. Sometimes their school will help them to do this.

Other professionals should be asked for their comments, so they can be shared before the review meeting as well.

As a parent, a large part of your involvement in reviewing the EHC plan happens when you write down your views and then share these at a meeting. The review meeting is when the people involved in supporting your child get together to talk about how things are going.

The local authority will contact your child’s nursery, school or college to tell them when the review needs to happen. They will also get in touch with health and social care services. Before the review meeting everyone should get a copy of your child’s plan, plus any reports. These should guide your discussions. The meeting is usually at your child’s school or college, but it can also happen virtually (on-line).

If your child isn’t on roll at a school, a review must still happen. The local authority is responsible for making sure it does. This might be if you are educating your child at home, or if your child isn’t able to be in school for health or other reasons.

At the review meeting, people will share their views and look at the progress your child has made over the last year. Everyone will talk about your child’s needs and their support. By the end of the meeting, recommendations will be made about whether the plan needs to change, and if so how.

For some children and young people, there will be a discussion about whether the plan is still needed.

Within two weeks of the review meeting, the school or college must send out a report to everyone who either went to the meeting or was invited to it. You’ll get a copy of the report too. If your child isn’t in school or is at another place of education, the local authority should write and send the report.

The report must set out recommendations about any changes needed to the EHC plan. It should also include any differences between what the school says should happen, and what others at the meeting recommended.

Sometimes the recommendations will suggest that the outcomes or the support in an EHC plan should change. But often they stay the same if your child isn’t moving into a new key stage. Even if the outcomes aren’t changed, then the nursery, school or college should write new short-term targets for your child to work towards.

Staff from the SEND Team at the local authority look at the recommendations and report and use these to decide what should happen to the EHC plan. There are three possible decisions they can make.

  1. To maintain the EHC plan (keep it the same)
    This is what usually happens, although your child’s nursery, school or college may change their school plan for the next year. If you disagree that the EHC plan should stay as it is, you can ask for mediation or disagreement resolution to discuss it. You also have the right to appeal the decision.
  2. To amend the plan (change it)
    If the local authority wants to change the EHC plan, they must tell you what they want to do and send you the evidence that supports the changes. This includes changing the school, college or other institution. If you’re unhappy with the changes, or if you ask for a plan to be changed and it isn’t, you can ask for a meeting with the SEN Team to discuss it. If a meeting doesn’t resolve any disagreement, then when the changed plan is issued, you have the right to appeal it.
  3. To cease (end) the plan
    This can happen if your young person comes to the end of their education or your child moves out of Southend, for example. If you disagree that the plan should end you can ask for mediation or disagreement resolution to discuss it. You also have the right to appeal the decision.

The local authority must tell you in writing if the plan will stay the same, or if they want to change or end it, within four weeks of the review meeting.

EHC plans aren’t expected to change very often. But sometimes a child’s situation can change enough that a change to the plan is needed too. This could be something like a new health condition, a change in social care needs or problems going to school because of new difficulties.

In 2022, a case went to the high court about the timescales by which an EHC plan has to be changed (amended) after a review. The court ruled that local authorities must tell a parent or young person about

  • the decision to change the EHC plan 

and 

  • what the proposed changes are within four weeks of the annual review meeting.

That means after a review, the final EHC plan must be issued as soon as it’s practical, and no later than 8 weeks after the decision to change the plan. Meaning parents or young people should get the final changed EHC plan 12 weeks after the annual review meeting at the latest. 

Once you have a draft amended plan, you’ll be given 15 calendar days to comment on the changes and suggest any of your own. This includes asking for a particular school, college or other institution to be named in the EHC plan.

When the local authority has your response, they may

  • decide to make changes and issue a new final plan
  • decide not to make changes – they must tell you why they have decided this

 

When an EHC plan is changed, the new plan should say that it is an amended version. It should include the date when it was changed, as well as the date of the original plan. The amended EHC plan should make clear which parts have been altered.

If you’re unhappy with the changes, or if you asked for a plan to be changed and it hasn’t been, you can ask for mediation or you can appeal to the SEND tribunal. You can do that when you have been given a final copy of the amended plan.

All EHC plans will eventually cease (come to an end). This happens when the local authority decides that an EHC plan is no longer needed, usually because your child’s needs have changed. This usually happens when

  • a young person becomes an adult, and they achieve the education or training outcomes in their plan
  • a young person starts higher education (university), leaves education or starts a paid job

EHC plans can keep going until a young person reaches 25 – but it’s not an automatic entitlement to have a plan until that age. Most EHC plans usually end when a young person reaches 16 or 19. This is usually when they start work, finish their education or have achieved everything set out in their plan.

If the local authority is thinking about ending your child’s EHC plan, they must tell you or your young person and talk to you about it. They must also tell the school, college or other place of education that’s named on the EHC plan.

If the local authority has decided to end the plan, they must tell:

  • you
  • your young person
  • the school or college named in the plan
  • the health Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)

If an EHC plan is coming to an end, the support should finish at the end of the school year rather than part way through it. This should allow your child to finish their studies.

If you’re unhappy with the decision to end the EHC plan, you can appeal. This means going to mediation or tribunal.

 

Ending an EHC plan when a young person reaches the end of school and beyond

When your young person is coming to the end of compulsory education (age 16 or end of year 11), the review should focus on planning for the next stage of life. That might include helping them to make a smooth move to whatever they will be doing next. For example, they may be moving on to work, independent living or further education.

When your young person reaches 16, the decision-making rights pass from you to them, if they’re able to make decisions. Every child’s views are important. But it’s particularly important for them to have their voice heard when plans are being made for adult life.

If your young person is 19 or over, before the local authority considers ending their plan, they must look at whether they have achieved the education or training outcomes (goals). If they have, they must also look at whether new outcomes need to be set.

If your young person isn’t in education, their EHC plan should still be reviewed. This might be because they have been excluded or have left education or training voluntarily. The local authority can’t end the plan without a review. If your child is under 18, the local authority should try and help them get back into learning in some way before considering ending the plan. They can only end the EHC plan if special educational support is no longer needed.

If you disagree with any decision, the first thing to do is to talk to your case coordinator at the SEN 0-25 team. You can ask them why they made their decision, talk about the main issues and tell them why you disagree. Many disagreements are sorted out this way.

You can also consider mediation or appeal to the SEND Tribunal Service.

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