The Children and Families Act 2014 introduces changes to the arrangements for support that children and young people with special educational needs will receive at nursery, school and college.
In this information, we look at what happens during a review of an Education, Health and Care plan (often referred to simply as a 'plan') and how you can make sure that you and your child are fully involved in the process.
What is the purpose of the review?
The review is to make sure that at least once a year you and your child meet with the local authority, the school and all the professionals involved in your child’s education, health and care.
This is an opportunity to:
- review progress made by your child
- consider whether the provision in the plan is still needed
- discuss any necessary changes to the plan.
An early review may be called in certain circumstances; for example, if your child’s needs have changed rapidly, or they are at risk of being excluded. As a parent, a review is an important opportunity for you and your child to share your views, and negotiate changes to your child’s plan, regardless of whether you would like to change your child’s school.
What is the process of the review?
There are four steps to the review process:
- collection of information
- annual review meeting
- head teacher’s report of the meeting
- local authority reviews the plan
Collection of information
Your local authority must ensure that a meeting to review your child’s plan takes place and can ask the school to arrange this on their behalf and provide a report of the meeting. You must be given two weeks notice of the date of the meeting and any professional relevant to your child’s plan must also be invited.
The school must seek advice and information about your child from all those invited to the review meeting and any information received should be circulated two weeks before the meeting takes place.
Annual review meeting
The review meeting usually takes place at the school. It must focus on your child’s progress towards achieving the outcomes set out in the plan. It should also consider any changes that might be needed to the outcomes, the way your child’s needs are described, or to the provision set out in the plan. You should be given the opportunity to participate fully in the review meeting.
Head Teacher’s report of the meeting
Following the meeting, the school must prepare and send a report of the meeting to the local authority and to everyone invited, within two weeks of the meeting date. The report must set out any changes that have been suggested, including where there may be a difference of opinion amongst those who attended the meeting about what those changes might be.
Local authority reviews the plan
The actual review happens at the end of the process. The local authority reviews your child’s plan in light of the report. They then must decide whether to keep the plan as it is, change the plan or cease to maintain the plan. They must send you and the school their decision within four weeks of the review meeting.
If the local authority decides to amend the plan, they must start the process straight away. They will send you a copy of the existing plan and a notice which sets out the proposed changes. You will have 15 days
to respond to the proposed changes. You can ask to meet with the local authority to discuss them if you want to.
The local authority must issue an amended final plan within eight weeks of sending the proposed changes to you. Once the amended plan is issued, they must advise you of your right to appeal against the content of the plan to the First-tier Tribunal, SEN & Disability (SEND). If they decide not to make any changes to the plan following a review, you will also have the right to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal, SEN & Disability (SEND).
Read more about mediation, disagreement resolution and the First-Tier (SEND) tribunal.
Please also see our annual review process flowchart.
How often must a review take place?
A review of your child’s plan must take place within 12 months of the date the plan was first issued or, the date of the previous review. Please note that the date of review is when the LA made a decision on the review, not the date of the review meeting.
Remember, as a parent, you have four opportunities in which to influence a review:
- Once you have been told by the school that a review meeting is to take place, you can write to the head teacher and LA to ask for any relevant person to be invited to attend the meeting and provide a report.
- Ask for the reports of all relevant people attending the review meeting. You should receive these two weeks before the meeting.
- Before the meeting, you should make a list of ideas, requests and questions. You can tick items off the list as they are answered. Having a list will help you remember these items. See ‘Preparing for the review’ below.
- Once you receive a copy of the head teacher’s review report (a copy will be sent to the LA as well) you can influence the LA’s final decision by writing to them with your own comments.
Preparing for the review
It’s helpful to read through your child’s plan before the meeting. Make sure that all your child’s needs are accurately written in the plan and make a note of anything that is missing, that no longer applies, or that needs greater or lesser emphasis. It’s also a good idea to look at the special educational provision and health and social care provision set out in the plan. Is there provision to meet all of your child’s needs? Make a note of anything that is missing.
The review is a good opportunity to make sure that the plan sets out clearly what support your child will receive. The provision should be specific and quantified. Make a note of anything that needs to be clarified. The notes you make can be shared at the meeting either in writing or verbally. When you receive the head teacher’s review report after the meeting, you should check that your views have been accurately recorded. If they haven’t, you can write to your LA separately, as in point 4 above.
For further advice on preparing for meetings, please see advocacy tips for parents.
Reviews during phase transfers
A transfer between phases of education means a transfer from:
- early years education to school
- infant school to junior school
- primary school to middle school
- primary school to secondary school
- middle school to secondary school.
If your child is within 12 months of a transfer between school phases the local authority must review and, if necessary, amend, the plan before the 15 February in the calendar year of their transfer. The amended plan should name the school that your child will attend following that transfer.
If your child is moving from secondary school to a post-16 educational setting, the review must be completed by 31 March in the calendar year of the transfer.
When the plan is amended to name a school, you will be given the right to appeal to the First Tier Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal if you disagree. If you need further advice in relation to the tribunal and appeal process, please contact our Tribunal Support Line.
Preparing for adulthood reviews
Review meetings taking place in Year 9 should have a focus on considering options and choices for the next phase of education. All reviews taking place from Year 9 onwards must include a focus on preparing for adulthood, including looking at your child’s future employment, independent living and participation in society. This transition planning must be built into your child’s plan.
It is particularly important in these reviews to seek and to record your child’s views, wishes and feelings. The school should invite representatives of post-16 provision to these review meetings, particularly if your child has expressed a desire to attend one in particular.
Final year reviews
A plan should be reviewed prior to the final exit from formal education or training. The plan should set out what will be happening as part of the transition to adulthood.
There should be clear responsibilities with timescales so that the young person will know what will happen when their EHC plan ceases.
The Government has created a series of leaflets for children and young people, which explain key changes to the special educational needs and disability support system. The Department for Education, together with the council for disabled children, have created a series of related videos explaining the changes. See link below.
SEN and disability support changes information for young people.
Further help from the NAS
The NAS, in partnership with the Department for Education, has developed a toolkit that gives children and young people the chance to say what changes they would like to make to education, health care and social care plans. You can order or download this toolkit here.
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Further help for parents trying to obtain an appropriate education for their child is available from our Education Rights Service.
For general help and information please contact our Autism Helpline.
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