Wondering what needs to happen at your EHCP Annual Review? In this online workshop, Liz Stanley took us through the legal process for an annual review, the timeline, the process in Herts and what the school, the LA and you can do to ensure a good solid annual review of an EHCP.

We happen to have our first EHCP annual review looming so this was an incredibly well timed workshop! It was full of helpful tips and information and if you have an EHCP I’d really recommend keeping your eye open so you can sign up for the next one.

The first thing Liz did was remind us that the EHCP annual review is a formal, legal process. EHCPs must be reviewed at least annually and must be completed within 12 months of the date your initial EHCP was issued, and in subsequent years within 12 months of the date the previous Annual Review was concluded. The annual review is not actually ‘the review meeting’ – that meeting forms part of a bigger process.

Liz explained that there are of course lots of reasons for doing an annual review. But the primary purpose is to check if it is still needed, if it is working and if anything needs to change. It ensures that progress is being made towards the outcomes that were previously identified and if new outcomes are necessary. It also identifies if the previous needs are still relevant and if the provision is working or needs to change. 

It’s worth noting that when your child is approaching a phase transfer (such as infant to junior, junior to secondary, middle to high, secondary to post-16) the targets in the pre-transition year should have outcomes based on the transition so the annual review is laying the foundations for the next phase of their education.

A basic timeline for the review process is as follows:

  • A minimum of four weeks before the meeting, school invites contributions from parents and professionals
  • Reports from both school and other professionals should be circulated two weeks before the meeting. 
  • No later than two weeks after the meeting school sends a report of the meeting to the LA
  • And no later than four weeks after the meeting the LA must inform parents of it’s decision which will be to maintain the plan, amend the plan, or cease the plan. This decision date then becomes the new date to work from for the subsequent annual review.

Liz highlighted that it isn’t always clear that schools should be producing a progress report ahead of the meeting, but like the other professionals involved they should. On that note, reports from other professionals won’t be as detailed as the initial ones provided for the EHCP application process – they tend to just be progress reports so don’t expect them to be quite as meaty!

Interestingly, Liz pointed out that being invited to an annual review meeting doesn’t mean the professionals need to attend, and often they will tend not to come. Your SEN officer also doesn’t need to be there. So the review meeting will often take place exclusively between you and your child or young person’s school/setting. You should really expect the SENCO and your child’s teacher and/or 121 to be at the meeting along with the reports from any professionals who are not attending.

Some of the other useful tips Liz covered:

  • The most important thing for you to do in relation to the annual review is to attend the meeting – this may seem obvious but you are your child’s voice at the meeting
  • The other most important thing is to prepare – you are the expert on your child
  • If your child hasn’t achieved some of the outcomes think about why – is there something not in place that could further support your child or is the outcome simply unrealistic at this point in time. Ie could your child be better served by changing that particular outcome to another one?
  • Ensure all outcomes agreed in the meeting are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed) eg ‘by the end of KS1 she can put her socks on independently’.
  • You can update section A yourself before the meeting so the time at the meeting itself can be spent on the other sections
  • Children or young people can attend the meeting – it’s sometimes nice for them to be there even if just at the very beginning as it refocuses the energy of the meeting on the child
  • If there are differences of opinions between you and the school during the meeting these should either be resolved or recorded – the LA will subsequently decide when they do their own review of the paperwork
  • Remind school to send you a copy of the report they send to the LA after the meeting
  • If school sends a report and there are bits you don’t agree with you can contact your SEN officer directly to flag these up
  • Banding doesn’t get looked at again automatically. If school feels the banding needs to change they need to ask for a reassessment independently.

Don’t forget, if you have an EHCP do come along to one of SPACE’s EHCP review workshops and if you are thinking of applying for an EHCP we also do a workshop for that. You can get lots of help and advice from other organisations too such as IPSEA, SOS!SEN, SENDIASS and RE:SEND.

SPACE also run a workshop on EHCPs for SENCO’s – as we all know it’s quite a complex process making sure your school are fully up-to-speed will only help you and your child or young person!