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EHC annual review guidance for settings and professionals

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This strategy document has been developed drawing on the following documents:

  • The Children and Families Act 2014.
  • The special educational needs and disability regulations 2014, specifically regulations 18 to 21.
  • The Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years, Department of Education and Department of Health, January 2015, paragraphs 9.166 to 9.185.
  • SEND Code of Practice -2015: 9.173

As part of the review, the local authority and the school, further education college or Section 41 approved institution attended by the child or young person must co-operate to ensure a review meeting takes place.

Introduction

The Annual Review of an Education Health and Care plan (EHCP) is not only a meeting but a process by which the outcomes set out in the EHC Plan and the effectiveness of provision are reviewed alongside all other sections of the EHCP. The child or young person is at the centre of this process and is involved in the discussions and decisions along with parents and professionals. At each Annual Review, progress towards achieving the outcomes and longer term aspirations in the Plan are discussed and recorded and consideration is made as to whether supporting targets remain appropriate. 

EHCPs must be reviewed and the process completed by the local authority (LA) as a minimum within every 12 months. For pre-schoolers with EHCPs, this review must be within 6 months. Reviews must focus on the child or young person’s progress towards achieving the outcomes specified in the EHC plan and must also consider whether these outcomes remain relevant.

Settings are asked to use the standard pro-forma prepared by Buckinghamshire Council to document the meeting- the Record of Annual Review.

The purpose of the annual review

    1. The principal purpose of the annual review is to:
      • Review the child or young person’s (CYP) progress toward meeting the outcomes in the EHC Plan and the targets set at the previous review.
      • Review progress on outcomes in all relevant categories. Education, health and social care - should be reviewed.
      • Check that basic information on the CYP and family (e.g. home address, telephone number etc) are all up to date and complete
      • Identify and celebrate progress
      • Plan the following year’s targets and support strategies
      • Evaluate the continued effectiveness and relevance of the provision set out in the EHC Plan, and consider if it is necessary to request amendment, re-assessment or cessation of the EHC Plan.
      • Give families and the CYP the opportunity to request a Personal Budget, and review the effectiveness of any Personal Budgets already in place
      • Promote the preparing for adulthood (PfA) aspects of planning, particularly from Y9 onwards
    2. The annual review must take account of the views of the CYP, and those of his or her parents or carers
    3. Annual reviews include a meeting of relevant persons, usually held in the education setting attended. A report of the meeting, with accompanying documents, is then sent to the local authority within 2 weeks of the meeting.
    4. The iSEND team considers whether amendments to the /EHC Plan are required, whether there is no change to the EHC Plan or whether the EHC Plan needs to be ceased.
    5. The review is completed only when the iSEND team has received the Review paperwork and made its decision as to whether to maintain, amend, cease the EHCP or carry out a full re-assessment.
    6. Where a CYP does not attend an educational setting, the LA will conduct the review at a mutually convenient location.

What the SEND Code of Practice (2015) says

  • Reviews must be held in partnership with the child/young person and their parent and must take account of their wishes and feelings. This should be clearly recorded on the Record of Annual Review document.
  • At each Annual Review explore if the family or young person are requesting a personal budget to support any needs or outcomes identified in the plan (see Personal Budget Guidance)
  • There is a requirement for all Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) to be reviewed by the Local Authority (LA) at least within 12 months. This is usually referred to as the Annual Review. However, in Early Years EHCPs should be reviewed within 6 months.
  • The Annual Review process must be completed on or before the anniversary of when the EHCP was first issued or the anniversary of the last review.
  • The Annual Review meeting must enable full involvement of the parent, child or young person and consider their views wishes and feelings especially when making decisions.
  • Reviews must focus on the child or young person’s progress towards achieving the outcomes specified in the EHC plan. The review must also consider whether these outcomes and supporting targets remain appropriate.
  • All reviews from year 9 onward must include a focus on Preparing for Adulthood as a statutory requirement.
  • The review should consider the continuing appropriateness of the EHC plan and whether changes are required including whether the EHC plan is still required
  • New interim targets should be set for the coming year and new outcomes agreed where appropriate

Sections of the EHCP

The Annual Review is required to check all sections of the EHCP.

Section A

Aspirations should be checked to see if they remain the same. There may be additional aspirations to be included perhaps due to new experiences, interests or circumstances.

Section B

New needs may have emerged, or existing needs changed and/or are having an impact on other areas of their life (in or out of school). The parent or CYP may not feel their needs are described accurately or to be a true representation of who they are. Some content may be dated and require amending (such as previously recorded academic levels).

Section C

There may be a new diagnosis or on-going investigations. Health conditions and resulting needs included may have changed. Any new Health advice covering health needs should be considered and where appropriate incorporated.

Section D

A change of circumstances may have occurred or a more up to date assessment may now have been completed, describing Social Care needs that should be included. The parent/carer/young person may have requested an assessment of their Social Care needs since the last EHCP was issued or in the context of the Review which should be considered in the amending of the EHC Plan.

Section E

Outcomes are not annual targets – they are set looking forward to the end of the key stage or beyond - but they still need to be reviewed to check they are still relevant, made more specific and measurable or may have changed. (Short-term targets will also be reviewed and new targets set). Outcomes must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound (SMART). 

It may help in writing and proposing these in the Review meeting, to imagine future Reviews and how measurable the outcome will be, in later considering whether or not the outcome has been achieved.

If outcomes require amending, this should be recorded on the EHC Plan directly using the established key (see Record of Annual Review document).  

If the Review established that a child/young person has achieved their education and training based outcomes or that support can now be met within delegated resources, a discussion with the child/young person/family should take place and consideration made by the LA as to whether to cease the EHC Plan.

Section F

There should be provision to match each need included in Section B.

Special educational provision is defined in s21 of the C&F Act 2014 thus:

  • For children under two, it is any form of educational provision
  • For children over two, it is education or training that anything that is different, or additional, to that normally available in a mainstream setting.

Provision must be detailed and specific and normally quantified in terms of the type, hours and frequency of support and level of expertise and clarity as to whether the support is provided through a personal budget.

Section G

Any provision included in G requires agreement from the LA and the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). Any health provision, such as Speech and Language Therapy, that can be considered to ‘educate or train’ must rather be included in Section F.

Sections H1 & 2

Any provision included here will depend on what Social Care needs, if any, have been included in Section D. It must be reviewed and may have already changed since it was originally included.

Section I

School placement. The parent/young person may want to ask for a different school or type of school if they believe it will provide a better match to their child’s/their needs.

Section J

Any Personal Budget (PB) already in place should be reviewed particularly where provision has been amended. This is also an opportunity to request a PB if the parent/YP would like one.

Timeframes and Responsibilities

  • The Annual Review process is more than just a review meeting, it is a process that must be completed on or before the anniversary of when the EHCP was first issued or the anniversary of the last review meeting.
  • The Local Authority will provide a list of children and young people requiring an Annual Review in the forthcoming full term to all Headteachers or Principals of the identified provision attended by them at least 2 weeks before the start of each preceding half term break (May, October and February).
  • The school/setting or college provider will arrange and conduct the Annual Review meeting
  • The child’s parents or young person, a representative of the school/college/setting, health service (if involved), social care (if involved) and the EHC Coordinator, must be invited to the review meeting and given sufficient notice. Professionals can telephone in or attend the meeting through virtual platforms if they are unable to attend in person but must submit a report to the review.
  • The school/college/setting must seek advice and information about the child or young person prior to the meeting. All reports must be circulated to all those invited at least two weeks prior to the meeting.
  • The school/college/setting must prepare and send a report of the meeting to everyone invited within two weeks of the meeting, including the EHC Coordinator/iSEND Team.
  • The report must set out recommendations for any amendments required to the EHC plan and should reference any difference between the educational provider’s recommendations and those of others attending. Annotations should be made directly onto the EHC Plan using strikethrough text for deletions and red type for additions.
  • Within four weeks of the review meeting the iSEND Team must decide whether it proposes to keep the EHC plan as it is, amend it or cease to maintain it. The child’s parents/young person and the educational provider should all then be notified.
  • Where an EHC plan is to be amended the iSEND Team must issue the amended EHC plan within 8 weeks of the decision to amend letter.

Local authority strategic approach

As a local area, we will prioritise specific annual reviews for attendance by EHC Coordinators. These include:

  • Year -1
  • Year 2
  • Year 6
  • Year 9
  • Year 11
  • For post 16: any transition review where a programme of study is coming to an end.
  • Where a child or young person has been released from custody. This will include reviewing whether the EHCP still reflects needs accurately and should involve the youth offending team in agreeing appropriate support and opportunities.
  • Where there is considerable concern regarding the CYPs progress or access to learning
  • Placements are considered to be vulnerable as a result of complex and/or significant needs
  • There has been a significant change in need.
  • Where a pupil has recently moved into the local area.

Monitoring and review of statutory processes

All statutory processes and adherence to statutory responsibilities will be kept under continual monitoring and review. Key performance indicators will be at the centre of this. In addition, the iSEND team will:

  • Keep under review how compliance in relation to time frames for Annual Reviews of EHCPs is monitored and audited through annual audits of process.
  • Ensure there is clear guidance regarding exceptions and that these are kept to a minimum.
  • Ensure appropriate action is taken on casework where there is significant overrun of statutory timeframes.

Preparing for adulthood (PfA)

From Year 9 onwards, the local authority has a duty to ensure that the annual review meeting “consider[s] what provision is required to assist the child or young person in preparation for adulthood and independent living” (Regulation 20(6) and Regulation 21(6) of the SEN and Disability Regulations 2014). This must also include preparation for the further education sector, work-based training, higher education and adult life.

It is expected that the young person must be placed at the centre of such planning; the review must be driven by the young person’s outcomes, ambitions and aspirations to ensure a true ‘person centred’ transition into adulthood.

For young people moving between post-16 institutions, where a young person is expected to transfer to a new institution in the new academic year, the Final EHC Plan naming the planned new setting must be issued on or before the 31 March. The Review process must then take place well in advance of this and wherever possible, the Review meeting should be brought forward to the summer term of the previous academic year (for example, the summer term of Year 10 if the young person is expected to transition to a new setting after Year 11).

Annual reviews are an opportunity for the child or young person to discuss with their family, school or college, and the local authority what they would like to achieve as they grow up. The aim of this is for young people with SEN to be supported towards greater independence and employability.

Start planning early

The SEN and Disability Code of Practice has the detail of what ought to be considered in annual reviews from Year 9 onwards.

For teenagers, preparation for adult life needs to be an explicit element of their planning and support. Discussions about their future should focus on what they want to achieve and the best way to support them to achieve (paragraph 8.7 CoP).

There may be very good reasons to start planning for adulthood sooner than Year 9 and the Code suggests that it can be helpful for EHC plan reviews before Year 9 to have this focus too. 

Person-centred planning

Planning must be centred around the individual and explore the child or young person’s aspirations and abilities, what they want to be able to do when they leave post-16 education or training and the support they need to achieve their ambition. Local authorities should ensure that children and young people have the support they need (for example, they might need an advocate) to participate fully in this planning and make decisions. Transition planning must be built into the revised EHC plan and should result in clear outcomes being agreed that are ambitious and stretching and which will prepare young people for adulthood (paragraph 8.9 CoP).

It is important the child or young person themselves can give their views and cover the topics they think are important. Some helpful resources to assist with this are:

There are some key points for annual reviews and transition between school and further education and/or training:

  • planning depends entirely on the young person’s aspirations and abilities and what is needed to support them to “achieve their ambition”: the EHC plan must fit the individual young person and not the other way around;
  • young people should be appropriately supported to participate and make decisions. Parents and carers need to think about how best to enable their young people to make decisions when the time comes;
  • transition planning must be built in to the revised EHC plan.
  • the outcomes sought for a young person must be “ambitious” and “stretching” and “prepare young people for adulthood”. This is very important when thinking about education or training for young people aged 19-25 where provision tends to be more bespoke (and harder to get).

What is preparation for adulthood?

The Code has some useful examples of what this might be (see paragraph 8.10):

  • support to prepare for higher education and/or employment;
  • training options such as supported internships, apprenticeships and traineeships;
  • support in finding a job, and learning how to do a job (for example, through work experience opportunities or the use of job coaches);
  • help in understanding any welfare benefits that might be available when in work;
  • preparation for independent living including where the child or young person wants to live in the future, who they want to live with and what support they will need;
  • considering local housing options including housing benefits and social care support available;
  • support in maintaining good health in adult life;
  • support in participating in society: this is a wide-reaching concept and includes such things as understanding how to get about (using transport and benefits options relating to this) and making and maintaining relationships.

Who provides this support?

The support required should be set out in the EHC plan. Reviews in Year 9 onwards should identify what action should be taken, and by whom, to provide the support the young person needs (paragraph 8.11 of the Code).

It’s also important to remember that schools and colleges have duties to participate in the planning process for Year 9 onwards.  Paragraph 8.24 of the Code says:

If it is clear that a young person wants to attend a different school (sixth form) or a college, then that school or college must co-operate, so that it can help to shape the EHC plan, help to define the outcomes for that young person and start developing a post-16 study programme tailored to their needs.”

What if the young person is not in education or training?

If a young person has an EHC plan and is aged under 18 but is not receiving education and training (for whatever reason), the local authority must review the plan “to ensure that the young person continues to receive education or training” (see SEN Reg 29).

Timing of annual reviews

Except in particular circumstances, all education health and care plans (EHCP’s) must be reviewed at least annually. This review must be completed within 12 months of the previous review. The dates of the meeting and any other actions must allow the local authority to complete its part of the review by the 12 month deadline.

Where a child is under 5, additional reviews should be undertaken within every six months.

Phase Transfers

All phase transfer annual reviews should be held in the summer term of the previous academic year before the year of transition.

The phase transfers are:

  • early years provider to school
  • infant school to junior school
  • primary school to middle school
  • primary school to secondary school, and
  • middle school to secondary school
  • year 11 or above to a new setting or provider

(For more information please refer to the SEND Code of Practice 9.179)

(These key transfers require Review meetings in NCY -1, 1 (infant schools only, 5 and students in Years 11 and above intending to transfer to a new setting or training provider).

For the above cohorts, the summer term of the previous academic year before the year of transition are as follows:

  • Y2 in pre-school
  • Y1 in infant school
  • Y5 in primary school
  • Y10 in secondary school

This allows the LA to name the next setting by the statutory deadline of 15th February for school age phased transfer and 31st March for post 16 movers on in the year of transfer.

Preparation for the review meeting

The setting should set the date and time for each review meeting.

The Regulations require that at least two weeks' notice must be given of the date of the meeting; in practice, longer notice is required to allow time for the appropriate documentation to be collected and circulated.  However, to secure attendance by health and social care colleagues, a longer notice period would be advisable.  In cases where a CYP has an existing EHCP with no therapy provision, but a new therapy need has been identified, requests for advice should be discussed through school advice clinics initially. Where referral is indicated the therapist will supply a referral form to request advice for the annual review and this should be submitted to the service 8 weeks prior to the date of the Annual Review meeting accompanied by all relevant documents to demonstrate use of Ordinarily Available Provision. Further information on this process can be found here:

The following people must be invited to the review meeting:

      1. The parents/carers who have parental responsibility. If the CYP is looked after by the LA, the residential care worker or foster parents and the child’s social worker, as appropriate.
      2. The Headteacher or principal responsible for overseeing the provision of education for the child in question; in practice, they may delegate such attendance to a nominee, usually the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo).
      3. A representative of the iSEND Team of the LA, usually the EHC Coordinator
      4. A relevant health care professional in line with the child’s health care need(s), for example a paediatrician, CAMHS, GP, school nurse or health visitor, to provide advice about the child's health care provision, as required.
      5. Social care professional(s), as required.
      6. The child or young person. It is good practice to involve the CYP in their annual review; consideration should be given as to whether they will require support in the meeting and/or it may be appropriate for them to be present for all or a part of the meeting.

In addition, consideration should be given to inviting the following persons, as appropriate:

  1. An Educational Psychologist (EP), if a significant change in needs has become evident. A person working with the CYP, as a direct result of the EHC Plan.
  2. Where the CYP has a sensory impairment, a specialist teacher from the integrated SEND service.
  3. Where the CYP has communication and interaction needs, a specialist teacher from the integrated SEND service.
  4. Where the CYP is placed in the setting by another LA, a representative of that LA.
  5. Where a parent has privately commissioned a report from one or more specialists, those persons, but after consultation with the parent, and with the parent meeting any associated expenses with attendance at the meeting.
  6. Any other person the headteacher or principal or LA considers appropriate.
  7. Any other person suggested by the parents/carers as having involvement with the education, health care or social care of the CYP.
  8.  

It is unlikely that all the relevant professionals will be able to attend all review meetings. It is helpful, when inviting professionals from outside the setting, to indicate the importance attached to their attendance and why they are being invited to this meeting.

Settings are asked to stress that written advice is required from persons invited but unable to attend the meeting. If the attendance of a particular person is thought essential, then that person should be consulted before fixing the date of the meeting.

In preparing for the meeting, the headteacher or principal should request written advice from the CYP, the parent(s) and/or carer(s), those persons specified by the authority and from anyone else considered appropriate by the setting.

Advice from the CYP’s parent(s) or carer(s) must be sought. The setting must offer assistance should it be required.

On receipt of advice from all quarters, the setting is then asked to complete the annual review document, and to send it together with all the advice received to all invited to attend the review meeting. This should be done at least two weeks before the date of the meeting.

For looked after children (LAC), the review of the personal education plans (PEP) should be integrated into the annual review.

Settings must inform the child, young person, parents and/or carers that they may bring an adviser, friend, relative or an independent parental supporter to the review meeting.

Interpretation and translation facilities should be arranged if required.

The review meeting

The Headteacher, principal, or member of staff to whom responsibility has been delegated, should normally chair the meeting.

Following the review meeting

The setting is required to prepare a report of the meeting- the Record of Annual Review. Some of the content of this report is likely to have been in the pre annual documentation, which was circulated pre-meeting.

However, it should also make recommendations upon the matters mentioned above, giving sufficient detail for the LA to consider whether amendments to the EHC Plan are necessary.

This report must be sent to all who attended the review meeting and to the LA within two weeks of the meeting. Settings are also asked to bear in mind the time needed for the LA to consider the report and take action upon it within the 12-month deadline.

On receipt of the report, following the meeting, the LA is required to consider whether to continue the EHC Plan in its current form, amend it, or cease to maintain it.

Additional considerations

The Children and Families Act 2014 stresses the importance of close relationships between the CYP, their parents or carers, and the institutions which educate those CYP. Buckinghamshire Council holds the view that the annual review in particular provides a valuable opportunity to involve the CYP, parents and those with parental responsibility in celebrating progress and identifying targets for the following year.

The work of the setting to prepare the CYP and parents/carers for the review meeting, and to welcome and support their participation, is significant. The LA asks that wherever possible, a consensual view of the CYP progress, and how their strengths and weaknesses will be addressed in the next year, be taken.

Settings will be especially sensitive to the potentially stressful nature of the review for some parents/carers and CYP. The LA asks settings to be generous in offering their assistance to those CYP and parents/carers who are in need of encouragement and support. The LA also asks settings alert them, where helpful, to the assistance provided by Buckinghamshire Council SEND Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS).

Year Group

It is expected that the CYP will remain within the year group appropriate for their chronological age.

If there are compelling reasons why a CYP should remain in the same year group for a second year, then reasons should be set out for this. Settings are asked to consider carefully the implications of such a recommendation, particularly with reference to phase transfer, where a receiving setting cannot be compelled to observe a previous decision to move a CYP into a different year group.

It is hard to envisage a situation where a CYP can be 'held back' for more than one year. The LA will consider any offset request as per the offset process.

Electively home educated CYP

The CoP states that, where parents/carers educate at home, the LA is not under a duty to make the provision set out in the EHCP but it still must review annually to assure itself that the provision set out in it continues to be appropriate and that the CYP’s SEND requirements continue to be met. (10.32).

EHC Coordinators should arrange to review the EHCP of electively home educated CYP at least annually. Flexible arrangements for the meeting may be required, depending on each individual circumstance.

How to consider amendments

EHCPS are not expected to require frequent changes and updates (CoP 9.193). When they do need amending, there should be supporting evidence to inform any changes.

Requesting a an ‘interim’ Review

If the educational setting, family or young person believe that a significant change requires it, an ‘interim’ Review can be requested. A reason for this may be concern that educational provision contained within the EHC Plan is not being delivered, or regarding the CYP’s attendance and access to education. A significant change in the CYP’s presentation would be another possible reason. This request will then be considered by the iSEND Team.

Requesting a Reassessment

An Annual Review can be an opportunity to request a re-assessment of a CYP. However, a LA can refuse a request for a re-assessment if less than 6 months have passed since the last EHC needs assessment was conducted, or it thinks that a further EHC needs assessment is not necessary for example because it considers that the child or young person’s needs have not changed significantly.

Home to School Transport Provision Review

Where a family/carer receives a Personal Transport Budget (PTB) it should be considered if it is having a positive effect on the child/young person and flagged if further support or a review is required.  There may be occasions where a PTB is not an appropriate way to provide transport assistance.

Review Meeting format

Although the annual review process is laid out in the Children and Families Act and the Code of Practice, the actual format of the meeting will differ from setting to setting but should cover the principles of a person-centred review.

Further guidance and resources

The Council for Disabled Children (CDC):

Annual Review timeline for professionals https://councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/sites/default/files/uploads/documents/independent_support/ARtimetable.cleancopy.final.pdf

Annual Review factsheet https://councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/sites/default/files/uploads/documents/independent_support/ARfactsheets.general.cleancopy.FINAL.pdf

What is an Annual Review Guidance What is an Annual Review? | Council For Disabled Children

An animation explaining the Annual Review process  What is an Annual Review of an Education, Health and Social Care (EHC) plan? (updated 2019) - YouTube

Preparing for Adulthood: www.preparingforadulthood.org.uk

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