Consultation on EHC plan annual review timescales closes soon – Contact’s view

3 mins read

Wednesday 10 August 2022

A consultation on proposed changes to timescales around annual reviews for children with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans in England closes this Friday.

Last week, there was a heated discussion on our Facebook page about the topic. So we thought we’d share our view on the proposals.

What are current annual review timescales?

Your local authority must review your child’s EHC plan at least once a year. This process is known as the annual review. It involves a meeting between people involved in your child’s education.

  • Currently, anyone involved in the review must submit supporting documents at least two weeks before the meeting to give everyone a chance to prepare.
  • The local authority must decide what to do with a plan – for example amend it, leave as is or cease it – within four weeks after the meeting.
  • A recent legal case has clarified that any draft amended plan must also be issued within four weeks of the meeting.
  • The local authority then has a further eight weeks to finalise the plan.
  • This gives the local authority 12 weeks in total to finalise the plan.

What are the proposed changes?

The government is proposing that local authorities should:

  • Have eight weeks to issue a draft amended plan, instead of four. That would bring the overall timescale for a finalised plan to 16 weeks instead of 12.


  • Have to submit material for a review meeting a week earlier than currently – so three weeks before the meeting instead of two.

So what does Contact think about the proposals?

Below, our SEN specialist adviser Lesley Black shares what Contact thinks about the proposals:

“We think current timescales for the local authority decision and issuing a final EHC plan following a review meeting should remain. That is, four weeks for a decision and list of amendments, then a further eight weeks to finalise the plan (see question 1 in the consultation’s document).

“We agree with increasing the notify period before a meeting to a three- or even four-week timescale. In our experience, very few schools and local authorities circulate reports two weeks before the meeting. Parents may be notified of the meeting date at short notice. We think allowing more time for all parties to review supporting evidence before the review meeting would make it clear that the process is intended to be front-loaded. That is, the meeting is only part of the review process (see question 3 in the consultation document). It would also give more time to seek additional evidence before the meeting if necessary.

“However, none of this is going to work unless timescales are enforced. This was the main area of discussion and frustration for parents on Contact’s Facebook page. A complete change of culture regarding annual reviews is required.

“We would like to see a formal procedure for requesting an early or emergency review. This right should be enshrined in legislation. And we’d like to see greater use of reassessments for the more complex cases. For example, where there has been a change of circumstances and the EHC plan needs to be completely rewritten. This would give clear binding timescales and clear requirements as to who must be involved.”

How do I respond to the consultation?

You have until 12 August at 11.45pm to share what you think of the government’s proposals.

Click here to take the online survey.

There is more information on our education webpages about the annual review process, including about asking for a reassessment or emergency review,