New SENDCOs need to learn how to be statutorily compliant when it comes to annual reviews. Experienced SENDCOs can always do with checking that their habits are statutorily compliant (too often they’re not, when it comes to annual reviews!). Follow the steps below to check your annual review processes.
Answers to more questions, as well as useful tips for SENDCOs, can be found in The Lone SENDCO, released this month.
What is an annual review?
An annual review is a formal, scheduled review of a child’s EHCP. The duty is on the local authority to ensure these take place, though in practice it is up to schools to make sure they happen. Part of the annual review process is the annual review meeting.
Is an annual review always annual?
An annual review must take place ‘as a minimum every 12 months’ (SEND Code of Practice, 9.166). You would hold it sooner – often called an emergency or early annual review – if the school and/or parents are requesting changes to an EHCP. Where a child is under five, local authorities ‘should consider’ (9.178) having reviews every three to six months, rather than annually.
In what order should I conduct my annual reviews?
Annual reviews must be held ‘within 12 months’ of the previous review (9.192). Therefore, you will need to know the dates of last year’s reviews and will most likely conduct these in the same order. However, you must also hold these before the 15th of February where a child is in a year group transitioning from:
• early years provider to school
• infant school to junior school
• primary school to middle school
• primary school to secondary school, and
• middle school to secondary school’ (9.179).
Where a young person is moving from secondary school to college or between post-16 institutions, the deadline for the annual review is 31st March.
Who should attend an annual review meeting?
The SEND Code of Practice requires the person organising the annual review meeting to invite:
• The parents or young person
• A representative of the school (normally but not statutorily the SENDCO)
• A local authority officer
• A health service representative
• A local authority social care representative (9.176)
If you are chairing the annual review meeting as a SENDCO, you will also want to consider inviting any relevant colleagues (class teacher, form tutor, teaching assistant, in-school speech and language therapist, etc.) to attend all or part of it. Other external professionals may be invited, as appropriate.
If a child is at a transition point, invite the future placement to the meeting, if this is known.
What do I need to do before an annual review meeting?
1. Invite the relevant stakeholders.
Stakeholders must be given ‘at least two weeks’ notice’ of the date of the meeting (9.176). Where you are inviting professionals external to the school (SALT, EP, advisory teachers), in reality more than two weeks will be needed.
2. Seek advice or information about the child, three to four weeks before the review meeting. If you receive any updated advice or information, send it to all stakeholders two weeks before the annual review meeting. Prepare a brief report as a school, typically focusing on the progress made by the child or young person towards the outcomes listed on their EHCP. You should also give parents the opportunity to prepare something in writing ahead of the meeting, should they wish to. Likewise for the views of the young person.
3. Consider how to chair each annual review meeting. Be aware of what you want to get out of it as a school, as well as considering how to ensure the voices of the parent and the child/young person can be heard.
What do I need to cover in an annual review meeting?
A SENDCO chairing an annual review meeting should ensure that it focuses on the needs of the child, on the progress being made towards the outcomes listed in the EHCP and on the provision currently in place to support their progress. Though it will vary based on the context of the individual child, an agenda might be:
1. Introductions and a reminder of the purpose of the meeting.
2. Administrative details – do the parents’ contact details need updating, etc.
3. Needs – everyone present discusses the accuracy of the listed needs and updates them if recent reports suggest that an update is required.
4. Progress – the SENDCO shares their own and any school-based feedback, including using data where appropriate. This progress will focus closely on the current outcomes listed within the EHCP. Others will be invited to share their views of the child’s progress towards these outcomes, including parents, relevant professionals and the child/young person where appropriate.
5. Provision – using sections F, G and H of the EHCP as a guide, the SENDCO leads a discussion about the current provision in place and invites opinions over whether there should be changes made to the provision, based on the child’s current progress and/or anticipated future needs.
6. Outcomes – looking forwards, the SENDCO leads a discussion over any changes to the outcomes listed. If the child is in Year 9 or above, these outcomes will need to include ‘Preparing for Adulthood’ outcomes.
7. Next steps – any actions resulting from the annual review meeting are agreed.
You might add an agenda item about transition or about ceasing the EHCP, as relevant. Parents have a statutory right to be informed about the possibility of receiving a personal budget. Throughout the meeting, the views of the child/young person and their family must be heard.
What do I need to do after the annual review meeting?
Complete the annual review form on the relevant local authority’s website, plus any relevant appendices. If you can manage to do so within the mandatory two-week timeframe, send the completed annual review form to the parent before you send it to the local authority. This supports parent voice and ensures any misconceptions from the meeting are clarified before the paperwork is sent off.