Asking for an EHCP review

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 Wales has a different process to England

In Wales, an EHC plan is called a 'statement'. Your child' statement will also have annual reviews (SNAP Cymru).

The Special Educational Needs (SEN) system in Wales is changing to Additional Learning Needs (ALN) in 2020. SEN changes in Wales (Cerebra)

Asking for an informal review

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.

Warning

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.

If the school is not following an EHCP 

Who to ask for an early annual review

If you feel the EHC plan needs a review, it can be helpful to talk to your child's SENCO first.

If the school agrees with you, they will usually contact the local authority to ask for an early annual review. You could write to the local authority too. Copy in the SENCO if you do.

If the school does not agree, you can write to the local authority directly.

Any letters or emails should explain why you are asking for an early review. Keep copies of what you’ve sent and any responses.

IPSEA has advice on early EHCP reviews. 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
  • any other professionals working with your child

IPSEA annual review checklist pdf

The annual review report

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. They must meet with you if you ask 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.

IPSEA template letter and advice on objecting to amendments

The local authority must send the finalised EHC plan to you, the school and the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) within 8 weeks of sending parents the draft EHCP and amendment notice.

You can appeal the final plan if you're still not happy with the changes.

The timeframes are legally binding

You can contact the SEN or EHCP case officer to remind them that a deadline has passed. The local authority must keep to the timeframes by law.

  • Two weeks before the annual review meeting, the SENCO or case officer gathers information and advice.
  • Review meeting
  • A maximum of 2 weeks after the review meeting, you should get a copy of the report.
  • A maximum of 4 weeks after the review meeting, the local authority tells parents their decision to change, maintain or stop the plan.
  • If making changes, the local authority sends a draft EHCP and an 'amendment notice' of planned changes. There is no deadline for this.
  • Parents have 15 days after getting the notice to make a written objection to the planned changes.
  • Within 8 weeks of sharing the planned changes, the local authority sends the finalised EHC plan.

If you have long delays and the local authority is not keeping to the timeframes, you could take legal action against the local authority. This can take time and money, and may be stressful.

Maintaining or stopping an EHC plan

If the local authority decides to continue the plan without changes or stop it, they must tell you about:

  • your right to appeal
  • the time limits
  • availability of mediation and disagreement resolution services 

Stopping a plan is always a possible outcome at any annual review, but it's unlikely if your child still needs the same level of support.

If you feel the EHC plan needs changes or you disagree with the local authority's decision to stop the plan, you can challenge an EHC plan decision.

Last reviewed by Scope on: 02/07/2019

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