Calling an early review of an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

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The purpose of the annual review process is to consider the special educational needs (SEN) support that has been in place for the last 12 months and to determine whether any adjustments to an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) are necessary.

Paragraphs 9.166 – 9.185 of the SEND Code of Practice 2015 cover the function of the annual review including what should be discussed, how it is to be arranged and what actions should be taken following the review.

The old code of practice set out that a Statement of Special Educational Needs (which EHCPs are now replacing) should be reviewed at least every 12 months. It also provided that an interim (or early) review should be called when the child was at risk of “disaffection or exclusion”. The new SEND Code of Practice 2015, the Children and Families Act 2014 and Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2015 do not however make any reference to an interim (or early) review of an EHCP. It is unclear whether this is oversight or a deliberate omission.

Paragraph 9.193 does suggest that if there is a substantial change in education, health or care needs then the local authority should consider whether to conduct a review or a re-assessment.

The review of the EHCP should happen at least every 12 months (three to six months for 0-5 year olds). There is nothing to suggest that it cannot happen more frequently than that, but there is no clear test for when an early review must take place.

It is possible that the Department for Education (DfE) may need to clarify this point, or the Courts will have to answer the question. The DfE is currently ‘closed’ until the outcome of the General Election is known and after that time may be rebranded.

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