Education Spotlight: EHCP annual and emergency review top tips

including early transition support and preparing for adulthood planning

Article source: FASD South West and by the Adopt South West Co-Production Working Group.

Here are a few top tips from parents who have lived to tell the tale, statutory guidance and from good sources of research nationally:

  1. If you have not received a date for the annual review 10 months since the last annual education, health and care plan (EHCP) review or issuing of your child’s first EHCP, you should request a date from the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) team at your council. If you prefer your school Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) or Designated Teacher can do this for you.
  2. The whole review process should take eight weeks to complete, that means parents or young people should get the final changed education, health and care plan (EHCP) 12 weeks after the annual review meeting, at the latest. If this doesn’t happen get your SENCo to chase this for you.
  3. If your child is under five, then the local authority may do a review of their plan every three to six months (good practice). This is because their needs are likely to change more quickly than an older child’s, ask your SENCo to arrange this and take detailed notes as this will be needed for school transition.
  4. The following people can be invited to your childs review; you can request this on your letter to the council or the school who will co-ordinate this for you, you should always be supported but be in control of who you want in the room with you:
    • You (carers/parents) or the young person themselves if they are over 16 (this is optional as dependant on needs it is difficult to face a room of people and even harder to be talked about; it is your right to refuse this for your child)
    • The Headteacher of the school or/and Virtual School Head; this is helpful if the school is struggling to meet need as they may need to offer training for the School or and specialist teacher support; all a statutory requirements of supporting adopted children in Schools – see Virtual School Head roles and responsibilities for more information Virtual schools are in:
    • Designated teacher (for children in care or post care their role is to support a child in School; every school has an allocated member of staff who should be trained to fulfil this role)
    • Someone from the local authority special educational needs (SEN) department often the education, health and care plan (EHCP) ‘case manager’ if you have one (this applies to Home Educated Children too); do not allow them to not attend as their role here is key. The meeting will need to be postponed if they do not attend.
    • Someone from Children’s social care services department (your post adoption support worker, social worker). This is optional on your request.
    • A health professional of your choice (this might be an Occupational Therapist (OT), speech therapist; this is optional)
    • The school teacher, tutor or you may also invite other people involved in supporting your child, for example a teaching assistant, a speech and language therapist, OT or a specialist advisory teacher. In practice, who attends will depend very much on your child’s needs and circumstances.
  1. You must be given at least two weeks’ notice of the date of the review meeting (statutory requirement)
  2. The school should also ask the people they invite to send in written advice (reports) in advance. Any reports must be circulated to everyone invited at least two weeks before the meeting to give you chance to ask questions about them. This will give you time to prepare; write down your questions. See the section below on preparing for the review meeting. You could include any updates, assessments, reports, recent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) or trauma informed literature etc
  3. As time goes on, things will likely change for your child. They will make progress, get older and their situation and goals will change. So, their education, health and care plan (EHCP) will need to change from time to time too.

You and the school will need to plan over a year in advance for transition to a new school or Further Education. Important to be clear about this with the school as careful transition planning for children that have experienced trauma or/and struggle with attachment needs will take time and careful consideration. Start writing a list of things you would like to consider, you can add to this list as you think of something.

Children with SEND take longer to transition than others, this may involve a request for the Educational Psychologist to be involved. Ask for the School allocation Ed Psychologist time to be used, if they refuse challenge this or ask post adoption support to recommend a good trauma informed Ed Psych in your area.

There are four main parts to the review process:

  1. Gathering views and information – your child’s views, your views and those of the professionals involved
  2. A review meeting where those views are shared and discussed
  3. Writing a report and recommendations based on the information and views that have been shared
  4. Deciding whether the plan should stay as it is, be changed or come to an end – and then changing the plan if needed.

An early review: A review can happen earlier than 12 months if it’s needed. The plan may need to be reviewed before the regular review is due if your child is:

a) permanently excluded or
b) their needs have changed a lot
c) the support they are getting is no longer suitable
d) their needs are not being met

You might hear this called an ‘interim emergency review’ or sometimes an early statutory review. If your child’s situation changes and you think the plan should be reviewed, contact your council special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) case manager or coordinator, your SENCo or Post Adoption Support.

You can ask for an early review to be done. If your child’s school or college thinks an early review is needed, they can contact the local authority. If this happens you will need to ask for an early review too – the school can’t ask for a review unless you ask for one too.

Sections of the education, health and care plan (EHCP) under review

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). You 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 EHCP.

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).

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

Special educational provision is defined in s21 of the Children & Families 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 and 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. You as a parent/carer/young person may want to ask for a different school or type of school if you believe it will provide a better match to your 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/young person would like one.

Preparing for adulthood

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.

This really helpful clip outlines the process for all stages and might help answer any questions you may have about the process:

Documents to include in your research and discussions with professionals

Useful further reading, support and sources of information:

Source: IPSEA annual review process and ECHP annual review guide.