Annual Reviews Process

What is an annual review?

Dorset Local Authority, call this a progress review.

The local authority (LA) must review your child or young person’s (YP) Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) at least once a year. This is to look at how your child/YP is progressing and to ensure the plan is kept up to date.

The annual review is a formal process that must follow certain legal requirements. It includes a meeting, this is not the only part of the process. The LA is responsible for carrying out annual reviews. In most cases the LA will ask the setting to organise the review meeting.

The review must be person centred to allow the child/YP to work alongside the people who are important to them and the relevant professionals to plan what support they need now and in the future. 

Your child or YP’s first annual review must take place within 12 months of their first plan being issued. After that, each review should take place within 12 months of the previous review.

It is important to note that if your child/YP is in a transition year the annual review should be held in the Autumn Term before they transfer to their new setting. See our information on phase transfer review

Emergency review

If you feel that things have reached a crisis point and the setting is at risk of breaking down, you can ask the LA to arrange an emergency review. This should always be considered where a child/YP is at risk of permanent exclusion.

Any such review is at the discretion of the LA. There is not a legal duty on them to arrange it. It will help if the setting supports your decision, for example if it is no longer a suitable placement. If you are requesting an emergency review, ask the LA to run it as an annual review with the same timescales. That will then trigger your appeal rights if you are not happy with the outcome.

All these steps – not just the meeting – must be followed for an annual review to be completed.

Gathering your views

The LA or setting organising the review meeting, will ask you to send your views in advance. They may send you a form to fill in, but you can send them in another way if you choose.

Think about the past year, what has gone well, or not so well in your child/YP’s education:

  • has your child/YP met any outcomes that were set at their last review
  • how is your child/YP doing both academically and socially
  • have there been any problems, for example, behaviour, bullying, attendance, or anxiety

Person centred questions that you will be asked:

  • what experiences and achievements has been made
  • what is important to them now
  • what is important to them in the future
  • what is working well
  • what isn’t working well
  • what support and help do they need to stay safe, happy and achieve

It is important to prepare as well as you can, the annual review is your chance to ensure your child/YP’s EHCP is fit for purpose. It may be that all is well, the plan does not need amending or only needs small changes.  It could be that the setting can no longer meet your child/YP needs and you are looking for a different placement.

The meeting must consider

  • progress made towards achieving the outcomes in the EHCP
  • the effectiveness of the special educational provision specified in the EHCP
  • the effectiveness of the health and social care provision in achieving progress towards outcomes in the EHCP
  • any changes needed to the EHCP, for example, new diagnosis, more help or a change of setting
  • for YP in year 9 and above, provision required to help them move into adulthood
  • does your child/YP still need an EHCP

What happens after the meeting?

Following the meeting, the headteacher must write a review report with recommendations for any changes that should be made to the EHCP. They must send a copy of the report to the LA and to all those invited to the meeting, including the parent or YP.

As well as the headteacher’s recommendation, the report should record any differences of opinion.

The report must be sent to the LA within 2 weeks of the meeting.

Within 4 weeks of the meeting, the LA must make a decision about the recommendations and notify the parent/YP.

The LA can make 3 decisions

  1. to maintain (leave) the plan as it is
  2. to make amendments (changes) to the plan
  3. to cease (end) the plan

If the LA decides to make changes to the plan, they must send you an amended draft plan. This sets out the changes they would like to make and should include any evidence used to support the decision. You must be given at least 15 days to give your views on the proposed changes. See our information on draft and final plans

What to do if I am not happy with the outcome of the annual review

The LA must send you a decision letter within 4 weeks of the review meeting informing you of your right to mediation and/or appeal. You have 2 months from the date on the decision letter, or one month from the date of the mediation certificate – whichever is later, to lodge an appeal.

For more information see our page on –   complaints, mediation and appeals.

Contact us

If you need more help or advice, please contact us.