Reviews – if my child does not have an EHC Plan?
The Code of Practice is clear that when a child is receiving SEN Support, schools should talk to parents regularly to set clear outcomes and review progress. Chapter 6.65 says schools should meet parents at least three times each year. These meetings should be led by a teacher with good knowledge and understanding of the child and allow sufficient time to explore the parents views and to plan effectively. These meetings will be longer than most parent teacher meetings.
These meetings should also include the views of the child.
How often should EHC Plans be reviewed?
Local Authorities must review EHC Plans every 12 months (from the date the EHC Plan started) Section 44 – Children and Families Act.
This can be sooner, if
- a child is moving from secondary to a post 16 provision, when any review/amends must take place before 31 March (in the calendar year in which the child moves – ie by 31 March of year 11)
- a child is transferring provision placement in any other case (eg primary to secondary), when any review/amends must take place before 15 February (in the calendar year in which the child moves – ie by 31 March of year 6 for primary to secondary)
- a child is moving from one post-16 institution to another post-16 institution at any other time (eg not at start of school year). the LA must review/amend the EHC Plan at least five months before the transfer takes place.
Children under the aged of five may have their Plan reviewed more regularly (at least every three to six months) – Chapter 9.178 – SEND Code of Practice – but these reviews are not annual reviews and as such, the rules regarding who is invited, etc do not apply. However, parents must be fully consulted on any proposed changes and also made aware of their right to appeal
What is an Annual Review?
An annual review is an opportunity to focus on the child or young person’s progress towards achieving the outcomes specified in the EHC Plan. The review must consider if these outcomes and supporting targets remain appropriate.
The outcomes are especially important at the age of 18, as they need to be education and training based or the EHC Plan may cease.
For those in year 9 or beyond, the review must consider what provision is required to support the child or young person in preparation for adulthood and independent living (SEND Regulations, Reg 20(6))
Do parents and their child or young person have any input in an Annual Review?
In the SEND Regulations 2014, reg 19, the law is clear in that when a Local Authority is undertaking a review of an EHC Plan, they “must consult the child and the child’s parents or the young person and take account of their views, wishes and feelings”.
Who is invited to an Annual Review?
- The child’s parents or the young person
- the provider of the educational institution attended by the child or young person
- an officer from the LA (often referred to as SEN officer or case officer)
- a health care professional to provide advice about health care provision
- an officer from the LA’s social services team (often a social worker from the disabled children’s team)
Notice of an Annual Review?
The Local Authority has the legal duty to organise Annual Reviews, however, they can ask a head teacher or principal to arrange and hold the meeting.
At least two week’s notice must be given to all those invited.
The person organising the Review must obtain advice and information (a report) about the child or young person from those invited to the review meeting.
These reports must also be circulated to all those invited at least two weeks in advance of the review meeting.
Obviously, there is a time issue here – if they invite and request with just two weeks notice, then it is difficult for everyone to return a report and for copies to be circulated within two weeks of the meeting.
It is best practice for Annual Reviews to be planned way ahead of schedule (some schools notify you of the following year’s review date within a few months of the last one taking place). This allows people time to schedule writing up to date reports, with lots of notice, in order that the same can be collated and circulated when the reminder/invite goes out with two weeks notice.
It is important to ask whoever is organising your Review to send you all the paperwork/reports in advance of the meeting so you have time to read and prepare any questions you may have as a result of the reports. Being handed them at the Review is not acceptable. SEND Regulations, Reg 20
After the Annual Review?
Within two weeks of the review meeting, a report must be written by the person organising the review, which specifies any recommendations or amendments. This report must also include the advice and information collated before the annual review.
This report must again be sent to everyone who was invited to the Annual Review.
The Local Authority, upon receipt of this report, must then decide whether it will continue the Plan in its current form, amend it or cease to maintain it.
They must advise the child’s parents or young person (and the school) of their decision within four weeks of the review meeting. The Local Authority upon sending this decision, must also advise parents of their rights to appeal and the time limits for doing so. They must also provide information relating to mediation, the availability of disagreement resolution services and information and advice about matters relating to the special educational needs of children and young people.
If amends are made to the plan?
If amends are to be made, the Local Authority must comply with
Reg 11 – the evidence received and how best to achieve the outcomes
Reg 12 – A to K of the EHC Plan
Children and Families Act
Section 33 – Children and young people with EHC Plans
Section 39/40 – Finalising EHC Plans request/no request for particular school
They must provide a copy of the EHC Plan together with a notice specifying the proposed amendments, together with copies of any evidence which supports those amendments.
The LA must allow parents (or the young person) 15 days from when the LA served the draft plan (ie sent it out) to make representations about the content of the draft plan (ie to challenge any changes they are not happy with), request a particular school (or other institution) be named in the plan or to request a meeting with an officer of the LA if they wish to discuss the contents rather than put their concerns in writing.
The finalised plan must be send to the parents (or young person) and the school (or educational institution) within eight weeks of first sending the EHC plan and proposed amendments to the parents.
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