What is 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 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. In mainstream schools, it is usually the SENCO who parents work with. In our settings the contacts are:
The Collett School - Ms Lisa Williams/ Ms Karen Thorp
St Luke's School - Mrs Rosemary Barker
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.
From 25 September 2020 schools and local authorities must legally provide all provision in your child’s EHC plan.
If we say the EHCP support is different because of coronavirus, you are advised to contact local parent support service for help; Hertfordshire SENDIASS
Informal EHCP Reviews - our EHCP Review Days/ EHCP Review Parents' Eve
We hold informal reviews of your child's progress towards EHCP Reviews termly. Usually, these are held in person, though depending on the lockdown conditions at the time, these may be telephone or video meetings.
EHCP Review Days (St Luke's)
EHCP Review Parents' Evenings (Collett)
At these meetings, we talk about:
- how the school is carrying out the EHC plan
- any concerns about your child's progress
- how your child is accessing learning towards achieving the planned EHCP Outcomes
- behaviours for learning
- any interventions that have taken place
- plans for further support where identified
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 EHCP Annual Review
You or the school can ask for an early EHCP 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.
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.
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 Head of School about your concerns.
The Collett School - Ms Pam Stocks
St Luke's School - Mr Jamie Caple
FHEC - Dr Huw Bucknell
Or, if your concern includes the Head of School, then the Executive Head - Mr Stephen Hoult-Allen
If you feel we are not following the EHCP
The EHCP or EHC Plan, is a legal document. This means that legally your local authority must provide the provision agreed in your child’s plan.
Your child’s legal right to support
The local authority is legally responsible for making sure your child gets the support set out in the EHC plan. The school should follow what’s set out in section F of the plan.
The local authority will have consulted the school on your child’s EHC plan, including:
- what resources the school can provide
- any external expertise that’s needed
- what additional funding the school might need
If you think your child is not getting some of the support in the EHC plan, talk to the Head of School about it first.
Talking to the Head of School
It can be helpful to understand how the school is supporting your child. Some parents think the school is not following the EHC plan because of the way they’re using the provision.
How a school decides to use provision will depend on what’s described in the EHC plan and how specific it is.
For example, the school might use the hours described in the EHCP for both direct and indirect work.
If your child’s EHCP says
“6 hours of speech and language therapy support per term.”
This might mean 2 hours are your child’s time with the speech and language therapist. The other 4 hours might involve the speech and language therapist:
- doing termly planning
- working with your child’s teachers
- training staff or teaching assistants on how they can support your child’s needs
If you’re not sure how the school is using your child’s provision, you can:
- ask how the school is allocating the provision
- talk about how they’re using the EHC plan funding
- work together to find the best way to use the provision
Informal Reviews - our EHCP Reviews/Evenings
These termly review days/ evenings are helpful to discuss issues, such as:
- your child is not progressing as expected
- you’re worried the school is not following your child’s EHC plan
- you’re not sure how the school is delivering the support
- there are problems with health or social care providers, such as physios or speech and language therapists, at the school
- you want to talk about any team changes and who will be supporting your child
Be clear about what you think is not working. If you can, work with the school to understand:
- what provision and funding is in place
- how they are following the EHC plan
- what needs to change
If there’s a bigger problem, you feel the Head of School or, Executive Headteacher cannot deal with or a problem with the school, you might want to involve your SEN officer from the local authority. Their contact details should be on your child’s EHCP paperwork.
If the school says there’s a budget problem
The EHC plan outlines funding for all provision. The plan should have enough support to meet your child’s needs. If your child’s needs have changed or the school says they need more budget to support your child, you can ask for an early annual review. Annual reviews only look at changes to the plan.
If you are concerned the school is not using the money in the right way, contact your local authority SEN officer or your point of contact on the EHC plan.
Health and social care support
The local authority is legally responsible for making sure health and social care support is provided. For example, physiotherapy or occupational therapy. The local authority will also need to make sure there’s cover for things like sick leave.
Your school may be able to provide some support internally. For example if they have a speech and language therapist. Talk to the Head of School about who will provide the support and where it will happen.
If you or the school is having trouble getting the services from a health agency such as the NHS, it’s good to talk to the Head of School first.
Then contact your local authority SEN officer. The local authority are legally responsible for making sure your child has support.
If your child is still not getting the support, follow your local authority’s complaints procedure.
Complaining to the school or local authority
If you feel that the school is still not following the EHC plan after a meeting with the Head of School or they do not resolve any problems you raised, talk to someone from the senior management team. For example, the assistant headteacher or headteacher.
If the school still fails to follow the EHCP, contact your local authority to make a complaint. IPSEA (Independent Provider of Special Education Advice) has a template letter you can use.
SEN code of practice and EHC plan parents guide
You can check the school and local authority responsibilities in the:
Disagreement resolution service
If you cannot come to a solution with the school or local authority, ask to see your local disagreement resolution service. This can help you deal with any disagreements between you and the education or health and social care organisations.
The service can also help with disagreements between local authorities and health organisations, like the NHS.
Maintaining your relationship with the school
Dealing with problems with your child’s support can be hard. But it’s helpful to maintain a good relationship with your child’s school and keep communication open. You’ll probably work with them for a few years.
To help maintain this relationship, you can:
- know who your schools' teacher, EHCP Co-ordinator and Head of School are
- use Class Dojo to contact your child's class teacher
- get support from the SEN parent information service provided by the local authority
Meetings can also be more open and productive if you:
- are clear about the purpose of a meeting and who you want there
- write down any problems you have and what you want to achieve from the meeting before you go
- agree how long meetings will be to make sure everyone is available for the same amount of time
- ask how meetings are going to be recorded or who is going to take the minutes if needed
- take someone with you for support or to take notes, such as your partner, family, friend or even someone from the parent information service
- set a date and time for follow-up meetings, such as in 6 weeks, to check that people are doing what they said they would
- keep copies of all your records, documents and communications with everyone involved
Parent Information Service
Your local authority must publish all services available to support disabled children and their families in your area. This is called a Local Offer. It covers education, health and social care services.
By law, every Local Offer should have a parent information service. They can give you independent advice and support about your child’s EHC plan. While it’s funded by the local authority, the service is there to help parents understand the local system and give impartial advice. They will know the different services and processes involved as well as how the local authority and school manage extra support. They should be able to help you with any problems:
- Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS)
Where to find more EHCP support
Some charities may be able to offer education advice and support specifically for your child’s condition or impairment.
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.
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 EHCP Coordinator of the school will usually chair the meeting and invite everyone supporting your child.
To prepare, we 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
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. If you ask, they must have a meeting with you within the 15 days.
You can talk to the Head of School 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.
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.
Legally binding timeframes
The legally binding timeframes are:
- 2 weeks before the annual review meeting, the Head of School or case officer gathers information and advice.
- Review meeting
- A maximum of 2 weeks after the review meeting, the local authority shares a copy of the report.
- A maximum of 4 weeks after the review meeting, the local authority tells parents their decision about any intended changes to the plan.
- Parents then have 15 days to make a written objection to any changes to the plan.
- Within 8 weeks of sharing the planned changes, the local authority sends the final EHC plan.
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 it.