EHCP Annual Review

EHCPs [Education Health and Care Plans] must be reviewed at a minimum once a year which means the review should be concluded (not begun) 12 months from the date of the last review. [Source = Children and Families Act 2014 s44]

The statutory timescales for review are set out in Regulations and also covered in the SEND Code of Practice Chapter 9 (9.177 deals specifically with EHCP reviews for children out of school) [Source = SEN Regulations 2014 Regulation 21 (for children out of school)] Timescales have been confirmed in the High Court, see my page on R (L,M,and P) v Devon case law March 2022 here.

The review should look at progress towards the Outcomes in Section E. [Source = SEN Regulations 2014 Regulation 21(5)]

For home educators, there is an important distinction between “outcomes” and “targets” in Section E. EHCP “outcomes” are medium to long term, whereas targets are more short term, and – crucially for home educators – targets are set “at the level of the school or other institution where the child is placed” [Source = paragraph 9.6 SEND Code of Practice ]. In other words targets are not applicable in the home.

Where the person convening the meeting has access to an editable electronic version of the EHCP, the review may largely consist of going through the Plan and asking if it is all still the same or if anything should be changed, although these changes (amendments) may not subsequently be followed through.

The local authority should contact the parents in good time to invite them to the Review. You can request Section A forms to fill in ahead of or instead of a meeting. In cases where the LA has commissioned an EOTAS package it may ask the organisation it has commissioned to arrange the annual review. In such cases the LA must be invited but does not have to attend the review.

Some local authorities have template review meeting forms and Section A or “Child/Family Views” forms on their Local Offer website which give you an idea of what you may be asked and what the review might cover.

The AR paperwork has probably not been adapted for home education or EOTAS. In some cases parents may be asked detailed questions about academic levels which are not applicable to home education.

Parents aren’t obliged to attend the review meeting but obviously this means they will not be present when any discussions might be taking place. Review meetings are increasingly being held online eg via Teams.

Notes of the review meeting must be circulated within 2 weeks. Whoever convened the meeting – the school or college, or alternatively the LA if there is no placement – must write up the meeting within 2 weeks and send recommendations to the local authority.

Within 4 weeks of the AR meeting the LA has to inform parents about next steps. Regulations say 4 weeks from the meeting not just 2 weeks after receiving the notes from the meeting ie there is an absolute deadline for the LA and it should be chasing for the review paperwork in order to fulfil its 4 week deadline. [Source = SEN Regulations 2014 Regulation 21(9)]

Options following review are: to maintain the EHCP unchanged; to amend the EHCP; to cease the EHCP; or to carry out a re-assessment. If the LA proposes to cease the EHCP it cannot do so immediately; it must wait until the time for appealing to tribunal has elapsed (2 months from decision) or, if appealed, until after the tribunal has made its decision. Appeals are currently taking a year.

Parents can only go to tribunal after the review is concluded. The quickest route to tribunal is where the LA decides to maintain the EHCP but not make any amendments, since the voluntary amendment process can be very long and drawn out despite the case law set out here. SENDIST appeals can easily take a year. Read my page on tribunals here.

So called interim reviews and early reviews are still reviews and the same rules apply. The law does not support the view that only one review is “allowed” per year and certainly any substantial change in circumstances may warrant a review of the EHCP eg where a child is unable to access the provision or placement set out in the EHCP. The parent will have the same right of appeal to tribunal at the end of the review process.

The SEND Code of Practice paragraph 10.34 – 35 saysLocal authorities do not have the right of entry to the family home to check that the provision being made by the parents is appropriate and may only enter the home at the invitation of the parents. Parents should be encouraged to see this process as part of the authority’s overall approach to home education of pupils with SEN, including the provision of appropriate support, rather than an attempt to undermine the parents’ right to home educate. Local authorities should not assume that because the provision being made by parents is different from that which was being made or would have been made in school that the provision is necessarily unsuitable. Local authorities should also consider using their power to help parents make suitable provision.” My page about the SEND Code of Practice is here.