An Education, Health and Care Plan, also called an EHCP or EHC Plan, must have a formal annual review within 12 months of the final plan or the last review. The annual review is a way you can raise concerns or suggest changes if you’re not happy with the content of an EHC plan.
In some situations, you can ask the school (or placement) and local authority for an early annual review. This can help you get significant changes to your child’s plan without waiting for the next annual review.
A significant change might be getting another diagnosis. A 'placement' or ‘setting’ can be a nursery, school, college or apprenticeship. The process should be the same but who your contact is at the placement might vary. For schools, it’s usually the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO).
Warning Changes to EHC plans during coronavirus
Rules on EHCPs changed because of coronavirus. These changes meant schools and local authorities had some flexibility on EHCP provision.
After 25 September, these changes stop. Schools and local authorities must legally provide all provision in your child’s EHC plan.
If they say EHCP support is different because of coronavirus, contact your local parent support service for help. They are sometimes called SENDIASS or parent partnership service.
You can ask your child’s school for an informal review at any time. You do not have to wait until the annual review to talk about things like:
how the school is carrying out the EHC plan
any concerns about your child's progress
Depending on the school, the SENCO may set up reviews each term to check your child’s progress. These more regular meetings can help you maintain a good working relationship and communication.
The school does not have to do this by law. But you can ask the SENCO to set up a review meeting to talk about your child’s needs, progress and the support they receive. You could ask them to invite teachers, members of staff or professionals working with your child.
Informal reviews will not change what’s in your child's EHC plan. This will only happen at annual EHCP reviews, but these can be early if needed.
Asking for an early annual review
You or the school can ask for an early EHCP review. Some parents call this an 'interim' review. The school should contact you if they think your child’s EHCP needs reviewing.
You or the school can ask for an early review if:
your child’s special educational needs change significantly and the description in the EHC plan is no longer accurate
the provision in your child’s EHC plan no longer meets their needs
your child has been excluded or is at risk of exclusion from school
there's a problem and it seems the school may not be meeting your child's needs
Special educational provision is anything that “educates or trains” your child. This could be anything from individual support to speech and language therapy.
Problems with the school
You should only call an early review when you need the EHC plan to change. If you have a problem with the school carrying out the provision, but the plan is accurate, you should talk to the SENCO about your concerns.
This includes a template letter asking your local authority for an early review of an EHC plan.
How an early review will affect the EHC plan
The early review should follow the same process as an annual review. Because you're asking for an early review to get specific revisions, your child's provision and outcomes could change. The local authority SEN officer may also attend the meeting to help review the problems with the EHC plan before it's submitted.
EHCP annual reviews
Children under 5 should have more regular reviews, usually between 3 and 6 months. They must have an annual review too.
Children over 5 only have annual reviews. Check with the SENCO if your child has not had an annual review 12 months after the local authority issued the final plan.
Your local authority is responsible for your child's EHC plan and the annual reviews but the school usually organises the review meeting. Most authorities have a template document to help schools collect the information and evidence needed to review your child's progress.
In some areas an SEN or EHCP officer from the local authority will organise the review.
The local authority will then review the reports, documents and recommendations from the meeting.
Warning You should be involved in annual reviews
The local authority must consult you and your child to consider your views, wishes and feelings about the EHC plan. Talk to the SENCO if you have not been included in your child's annual reviews.
The annual review meeting
The EHCP annual review meeting will check your child's progress against their agreed outcomes. The SENCO will usually chair the meeting and invite everyone supporting your child.
To prepare, the SENCO must get advice and information from anyone involved and share it with everyone 2 weeks before the meeting.
This might be:
you and, if possible, your child (to express views, wishes and feelings)
any health or social care agencies involved
teachers and teaching assistants
therapists, such as speech and language therapists (SLTs), physiotherapists or occupational therapists (OTs)
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) professionals
The school will submit the annual review paperwork as a report to the local authority and send it to everyone who attended. It will cover:
your child’s progress towards the EHCP outcomes
everyone's views and recommendations
any provision changes needed to support your child
any changes to your child’s outcomes or goals
all the information or reports submitted before the meeting
If you have not received the report within 2 weeks of the review meeting, ask the school for a copy.
The local authority will review this report and decide if they are going to:
make the suggested changes
continue to maintain the EHC plan as it is
stop the EHC plan
The local authority must tell the parents and school their decision within 4 weeks of the review meeting.
Changes to the EHC plan
How the review will affect your child's EHCP depends on what revisions the annual review report asks for and whether the local authority agrees.
Changes to your child's EHC plan could mean:
different or additional provision for your child’s support
changes to the outcomes
changing schools (or placement)
changes to social care that affect education
changes to health that affect your child's educational support needs
If the suggested changes are big, complex or if the local authority disagrees, such as an increase in provision or a change in school, a panel will probably need to review the report. A group of professionals will discuss the report and any other available information to decide. This process might vary between local authorities.
The local authority does not have a deadline for sending you their planned changes. But the SEN Code of Practice does say:
“If the plan needs to be amended, the local authority should start the process of amendment without delay” Paragraph 9.176
Challenging changes to the EHCP
The local authority will send you a draft EHC plan and an 'amendment notice' telling you the planned changes. The notice should include any evidence that supports the changes.
You will have 15 days to make a written objection. You must explain why you disagree. You can also ask for a meeting with a local authority officer. If you ask, they must have a meeting with you within the 15 days.
You can talk to the SENCO about the local authority's decision. If they agree with you, ask them to write a letter to the local authority explaining why. You also need to send your own letter.