The purpose of the annual review is to make sure that at least once a year the parents, pupil, the Local Authority (LA), the school and all the professionals involved review the provision set out in a statement. An early review may be called in certain circumstances such as when a child’s needs have changed rapidly or when a school identifies a pupil is at risk of being excluded.
As a parent an annual review is an important opportunity for you to share your views and negotiate changes to your child’s statement, whether or not you would like to change your child's school.
Why is a review of a statement needed?
An annual review determines whether a statement is still necessary or whether it should be ceased. If a statement is still necessary, do any amendments need to be made? If amendments are necessary, what are they?
What is the process of the Annual Review?
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There are four steps to the annual review process
1. Collection of information
2. Annual Review Meeting
3. Head teacher's report of the meeting
4. LA reviews the statement
1. Collection of information
The LA must write to all schools two weeks before the beginning of each term with a list of all pupils on roll at their school who require an annual review. The head teacher then seeks written advice from parents and professionals and the pupil (if possible), arranges the meeting and prepares a review report. The head teacher must invite the parent of the child, the child (if appropriate), the relevant teacher and the LA officer to the meeting. Where appropriate, the head should also invite the LA Educational Psychologist, a representative from health or social services or any other relevant professional. In the year of transfer the SENCO from the secondary school the child will be attending should also be invited. The written reports must be distributed to those attending at least two weeks prior to the meeting.
2. Annual Review Meeting
The review meeting normally takes place at the child’s school. It is normally chaired by the head teacher or a nominated representative.
As a parent you can take a friend or an independent parental supporter with you to the meeting to give you support and take notes on your behalf. Make sure you tell the head teacher in advance that this person will be attending.
At the meeting the following points should be considered:
- The child's views
- The parent's views
- The child's overall progress over the past year
- The child's progress with regards to the objectives set out in the statement
- The child's progress towards meeting targets set out in the Individual Education Plan (IEP)
- National Curriculum levels including key stage assessment
- The child's current levels in literacy and maths
- Any continuing difficulties and what strategies are in place
- Any significant changes in the child's circumstances
- Any change in the child’s special educational needs
- Any change with regards to equipment, aids and access.
In light of the above discussion points, recommendations need to be made on:
- Whether the statement remains appropriate?
- Have the child's needs changed significantly?
- Is the provision (school placement) still appropriate or will the child's needs be better met at another school?
- Should the statement be amended and if so, why and how?
- Are there any other significant recommendations?
- Should the LA cease to maintain the statement?
At the end of the meeting, the head teacher should explain what happens next. The head teacher should make it absolutely clear that although the meeting can agree recommendations, the LA will make the final decision with regards to any changes (if any) that will made to the statement.
3. Head Teacher’s report of the meeting
The head teacher then writes a report after the meeting. They should include in their report the recommendations from the meeting (all views should be recorded including those of dissent).
This report should be sent to the LA no later than 10 days after the meeting or the end of that term whichever is the earliest date. A copy of the report must be sent to the parents and all those concerned.
4. LA reviews the statement
The moment of review happens at the end of the process. The LA reviews the child's statement in light of head teacher's review report and other information or advice received. The LA may decide to maintain the statement, amend/not amend the statement, or cease to maintain the statement. The LA must write to the parents informing them of the decision taken and their reasons. A copy of this must be sent to the school.
If the letter from the LA advises to amend the statement you will be sent an amendment notice and given 15 days to respond. If/when the LA issues an amended final statement after the 15 day consultation period, you will be given the right to go to tribunal.
If the LA decides that your child no longer needs a statement, you will be given the right to appeal.
If the LA decides not to make any changes to the statement following a review, there is no right to appeal against this decision if you live in Wales (You should be given the right to appeal against this decision if you live in England).
How often must a review take place?
A statement review must take place within a period of 12 months beginning with the making of the statement or, as the case may be, with the previous review (Section 328 Education Act 1996).
How do I work out if it is overdue?
In order to work out if a statement review is overdue, you have to know when the statement was finalised or the date the previous review took place.
Note: Date of review is "When authority (LA) made a decision"
Remember, as a parent, you have four opportunities to influence a review:
1. Once you have been informed by the school that an annual review is to take place, write to the Head Teacher and LA asking for any relevant person to be invited to conduct a report and to attend the Annual Review Meeting.
2. Request the reports of all relevant people who will be attending the review meeting in writing. You should receive these two weeks before the meeting.
3. Before the meeting you should make a list of ideas, requests and questions. You can tick items off the list as they are answered throughout the meeting. Having a list to hand will help you not to forget any important points.
4. Once you receive a copy of the Head's review report (a copy will be sent to the LA as well) you can influence the LA's final decision by submitting your own comments in writing to the LA.
Moving to secondary school
The move between primary and secondary should be considered in the year prior to transfer, ie at the Year 5 review. Clear recommendations as to the type of school the child will require at secondary stage should be given. It will then be possible for the parents to visit all proposed provisions and consider the options carefully.
The LA has to consider the parents' preference but can still name a school they think can meet the child's needs.
The child's statement then needs to be amended by the 15th of February in the year of the transfer, ie Year 6. When the statement is amended to name a school, parents will be given the right to appeal to the special educational needs tribunal. The appeal system for children with statements is via the First Tier Special Educational Tribunal Wales (SENTW) and not the local appeal system.
Year 9 Reviews
The Annual Review that occurs in year 9 and the subsequent years is similar to that of previous years but with one major difference; the focus is on the young persons needs as they move into further education, training or employment after the age of 16.
What must happen?
The Head Teacher must invite Social Services and any health professional already involved with the child. They must also invite a representative from the LA youth or employment service. Parents too have to be invited and where possible the young person’s view must be sought. Where young people can give their views directly, the SEN Code of Practice encourages their attendance.
Besides considering all the same issues as other review meetings, the following points must be looked at:
- Special arrangements for examinations.
- Whether the child should stay in school post-16 and therefore needs to retain their statement.
- Whether Key stage 4 courses give the child an opportunity to show what they can do or whether the child would benefit from dropping particular subjects.
As for all annual reviews, the Head Teacher must write a report but also produce a Transition Plan in consultation with Careers Wales or the LA youth or employment service. A transition plan should draw together information from a range of individuals from within and beyond school and describe both the ongoing school provision under the statement and post school arrangements.
Reviews after Year 9
The school remains responsible for organising annual review meetings until the young person leaves school. Some pupils with statements of special educational needs remain in school after the age of 16. LAs in Wales remain responsible for such pupils until the age of 19 (in England, your child may be issued with an education, health and care plan that can remain in force until the age of 25 years if they remain in education). Reviews after Year 9 will continue to review the statement and the transition plan and decide whether any amendments need to be made. A representative from Careers Wales should attend all subsequent reviews, particularly in Year 11. Any professionals who knows the young person well should also be involved. In the young person's final year of school an assessment should take place to identify their needs on leaving school. This is not to be confused with a statutory assessment. Where post 16 provision has been identified, the Head Teacher should invite a representative from that provision to the review.
Further help for parents trying to obtain an appropriate education for their child is available from our Education Rights Service. Specific help for appealing to SEN tribunal is available from our Tribunal Support Line on 0808 800 4102.
Last reviewed: 10 March 2016.