There has been one significant change to the annual review process since the Children and Families Act 2014 came into effect on 1st September 2014. An EHC Plan must still be reviewed every 12 months but there is a new provision in which the Local Authority must provide the decision from the annual review within 4 weeks of any recommendations made at the annual review meeting. Previously, there was no such time limit and decisions could take many months, delaying any right of appeal.
The purpose of an annual review remains the same, to monitor progress towards outcomes and longer-term aspirations and considering whether or not these outcomes and supporting targets remain appropriate. The review should gather and assess information not only based on the special educational provision but also a review of the health and social care provision, consider the continuing appropriateness of the EHC Plan and whether or not any changes are required as well as setting new interim targets for the coming year.
Annual reviews must still be undertaken in partnership with parents and the child or young person and must take account of the child’s or young person’s views, wishes and feelings. Before an annual review meeting, a school must seek advice and information about the child or young person prior to the meeting and send any advice or information gathered to all those invited at least 2 weeks before the meeting. The school must then prepare and send a report of the meeting to everyone invited within 2 weeks of the meeting having taken place. The report must set out any recommendations on any amendments required.
Within 4 weeks of the review meeting, the Local Authority must decide whether it proposes to keep the EHC Plan as it is, amend the Plan or cease to maintain the Plan and notify parents of that decision. It is a new provision that the Local Authority must provide its decision within 4 weeks of the recommendations made at the annual review meeting. It is important that Local Authorities work within this timeframe.