Annual reviews

Information for families in England

This page is relevant to children and young people in England who have an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan.

What is an annual review?

Your local authority must review your child's EHC plan at least once a year. This is to look at how your child is progressing and to ensure that the plan is kept up to date. This process is known as the annual review. 

The annual review is a formal process that must follow certain legal requirements. It includes a meeting, but this is not the only part of the process. The responsibility for carrying out annual reviews lies with the local authority, but in most cases the local authority delegates organisation of the review meeting to your child's school.

Your child's first annual review must take place within 12 months of their plan being first made. After that, each review should take place within 12 months of the previous review. 

Watch an animation from our friends at the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) about EHC plan annual reviews

Understanding the annual review process

We'll look first at what happens during a review and then explain how you can prepare for the review meeting.

The annual review process can be broken down into several steps.


Local authority notifies the school

Each term the local authority must notify schools which of their pupils' EHC plans need to be reviewed in the coming term.


Invitation to the annual review meeting

The next stage is for the school to organise a meeting between people involved in your child's education.

The following people must be invited:

  • The child's parent(s) or the young person themselves if they are over 16.
  • The headteacher of the school.
  • Someone from the local authority special educational needs (SEN) department.
  • Someone from the local authority social services department.
  • A health professional.

The school may also invite other people involved in supporting your child, for example a teaching assistant, a speech and language therapist, or a specialist advisory teacher. In practice, who attends will depend very much on your child's needs and circumstances.

You must be given at least two weeks' notice of the date of the review meeting.

The school will also ask the people they invite to send in written advice (reports) in advance. Any reports must be circulated to everyone invited at least two weeks before the meeting. This will give you time to prepare. See the section below on preparing for the review meeting


The review meeting

The purpose of the meeting is to gather everyone's opinion about how your child is being supported and to make recommendations about any changes needed to the EHC plan. The meeting must consider the following:

  • Progress made towards achieving the outcomes in the EHC plan.
  • For young people in year 9 and above, provision required to help the young person move into adulthood.

And the guidance suggests it should also consider:

  • The effectiveness of the special educational provision specified in the EHC plan.
  • The effectiveness of the health and social care provision in achieving progress towards outcomes in the EHC plan.
  • Whether your child still needs an EHC plan.
  • Any changes needed to the EHC plan, for example more or different help or a change of school.

The meeting should also set interim targets for the following year.


The review report

Following the meeting the headteacher must compile a review report with recommendations for any changes that should be made to the EHC plan. They must send a copy of the report to the local authority and to all those invited to the meeting, including the parent. As well as the headteacher's recommendation, the report should record any differences of opinion.

This report must be sent to the local authority within two weeks of the meeting. The report must include all the evidence gathered as part of the review process. That would include your parental views.


The local authority's decision

Within four weeks of the review meeting, the local authority must make a decision about the recommendations in the review report and notify the parent of this. The decision might be:

  • To cease (end) the plan.
  • To leave the plan as it is.
  • To make amendments (changes) to the plan.

The local authority's written decision concludes the review process. 

If the local authority wants to make changes to the plan, they must send you an amendment notice. This sets out the changes it proposes to make and includes any evidence it is relying on to make this decision. You must be given 15 days to give your views on the proposed changes. If you want a change of school, you can express your preference at this point.

Not happy with the outcome of the annual review?

If you disagree with the local authority's decision at the final step of the review, you have a right to go to mediation and/or appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal. This may be the case if:

  • The local authority proposes to cease the EHC plan and you want it to continue.
  • The local authority is leaving the plan as it is and you want changes.
  • The local authority has made changes that you disagree with.

For more information on what to do next, see our page on Tribunal appeals.

Preparing for the review

It is important to prepare as well as you can, as the annual review is your chance to ensure that your child's EHC plan is fit for purpose. It may be that all is going well and the plan only needs minor tweaks. Or it could be that the school can no longer meet your child's needs and you are looking for a different school.


Before the meeting

Think about:

  • Is there anyone that you would like to come with you to the meeting or to send in a report? The school or local authority is not obliged to invite anyone you request, but they must take account of your wishes, views and feelings and those of your child.
  • Do you have any other reports or evidence that you would like to send in? These might be from private practitioners working with your child or from people outside the education setting, such as a youth club leader or sports coach.
  • How is your child going to be involved in the review? There is a duty on the local authority to consult your child. Some children and young people want to give their views in person and attend all or part of the meeting. Others find this overwhelming and would prefer to write, draw or talk to a trusted person.
  • Do you want anyone to go with you to take notes? This could be a partner, friend or relative or someone from the local SENDIASS service or another support organisation.

Gathering your views

The local authority or school organising the review meeting will ask you to send your views in advance. They may send you a form to fill in, but you don't have to be limited by this.

Think about the past year and what has gone well, or not so well, in your child's education. Has your child met any targets that were set at their last review? How is your child doing both academically and socially? If there have been any particular problems at school, for example, behaviour, bullying, attendance, or anxiety, describe these as well. If you need to ask any questions about your child's progress or support at school, make a note of these.

You should have received copies of any written reports that professionals have contributed to the annual review. Go through all these reports and make a note of anything you would like to discuss at the meeting. Do you agree with the views others have expressed about your child and the support they are receiving? Do the reports make any recommendations for changes to your child's support?

Next, go through your child's EHC plan carefully. Look particularly closely at the education sections B, F and I, as well as the outcomes in section E. Our page on EHC plans explains the different sections in more detail. The annual review is your chance to say if you think the EHC plan is still correct or if any changes need to be made. In particular:

  • Section B - special educational needs.

This should be an accurate description of how your child learns and what they can and cannot do. Does it still describe your child as you know them? If not, make a list of what you think should be taken out, changed, or added to this part of the EHC Plan.

  • Section F - Special educational provision.

This describes all the extra help your child must get, for example 1-1 support from a teaching assistant, or weekly therapy. Is it clear how much and what kind of help your child must receive? Is it clear how often this help should be given and who should be giving it? Do you think your child's needs have changed in the past year? Do you think they need more help, or a different kind of help?

  • Section I - education placement. 

Are you happy with the school placement or do you think your child should go to a different kind of school or college? If so, you can say what you would prefer.

  • Section E - outcomes.

How is your child progressing towards the outcomes set in section E? Do these need revising because they have been met or are no longer appropriate?

  • Other sections.

Depending on your child's needs, you may also want to ask for changes to be made to the health or social care sections of the EHC plan. If that is the case it is sensible to ask for relevant professionals to be involved in the review.

The annual review is also a chance to ask for a personal budget if you didn't do this when the EHC plan was first made. See our page on personal budgets for more information.

Asking for changes outside the annual review

What can you do if you have concerns about your child's EHC plan but it's a while until the next annual review?

The first step is to check the plan. You may have a good plan but the school is not providing what is specified. Alternatively the plan may be inadequate or the school no longer suitable.


Good, detailed plan but support not given

In this case the first step would be to raise your concerns through a meeting with the SENCO and give the school a chance to put things right. Be as specific as you can about what is not being provided, and put your concerns in writing. Ask to meet again in, say, another month.

If the help in the plan is still not being provided, the next step is to go back to your local authority. The local authority has a legal duty to secure the special educational provision in the EHC plan. You can make a formal complaint to the local authority if this isn't happening.


Inadequate plan or change of school needed

In this case you have a couple of different options.

  • Reassessment.

You can ask the local authority for a full reassessment. This takes the same form as and has similar timescales to the original EHC needs assessment. This won't be a quick fix but may be worthwhile if your child's needs or circumstances have changed substantially. If you put in a request for reassessment and are turned down, you have the right to mediation and/or appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal.

  • Emergency/interim review.

If you feel that things have reached a crisis point and the educational placement is at risk of breaking down, you can ask the local authority to arrange an emergency review. This should always be considered where a child is at risk of permanent exclusion.

Any such review is at the discretion of the local authority, and there is no legal duty on them to arrange it. It will help if you can get the school's backing, for example if it is no longer a suitable placement. If you are requesting an emergency review, ask the local authority to run it as an annual review with the same timescales. That will then trigger appeal rights if you are not happy with the outcome.

Related information

Information for families in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales

If you live in Wales, read our information about the statementing process.

We also support Northern Ireland and Scotland. Give our helpline a call on 0808 808 3555 and we can provide information or signpost you to alternative sources of advice in those nations where appropriate. Find out our local office details in the In your area section.

Call our helpline

Any questions about support at school? How to get an EHC plan? What kind of school is best for my child? Call our freephone helpline on 0808 808 3555 and talk to one of our education advisers.

 

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