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Guidance for monitoring progress towards EHC Plan outcomes and a person centred approach to Annual Review reporting

Annual Review Report for an Education Health and Care Plan downloadable form

From September 1st 2015 all children and young people who received a newly assessed EHC Plan or had their Statement of SEN (or Learning Disability Assessment LDA) converted to an EHC Plan during the academic year 2014-15 will require their Plans to be reviewed under new annual review procedures.  This document aims to provide guidance on these new procedures for families, young people and educational settings.  The first review must be held within 12 months of the date when the EHC plan was issued. The first review of a child under 5 years must be within 6 months and to continue every 6 months until the child turns 5 years of age.

'Local authorities should consider reviewing an EHC plan for a child under five at least every three to six months to ensure that the provision continues to be appropriate. Such reviews would complement the duty to carry out a review at least annually but may be streamlined and not necessarily require the attendance of the full range of professionals, depending on the needs of the child. The child's parent must be fully consulted on any proposed changes to the EHC plan and made aware of their right to appeal to the Tribunal' (SEND CoP 2014 9.178).

The SEND Code of Practice 2014 requires the local authority to: 

provide a list of children and young people who will require a review of their EHC plan that term to all head teachers and principals of schools, colleges and other institutions attended by children or young people with EHC plans, at least two weeks before the start of each term

provide a list of all children and young people with EHC plan reviews in the forthcoming term to the CCG (or, where relevant, NHS England) and local authority officers responsible for social care for children and young people with SEN or disabilities

indicate which reviews must be focused on transition and preparation for adulthood

The SEND Code of Practice 2014 requires that the annual review meeting must focus on the child or young person's progress towards achieving the outcomes specified in the EHC plan, and on what changes might need to be made to the support that is provided to help them achieve those outcomes, or whether changes are needed to the outcomes themselves. Children, parents and young people should be supported to engage fully in the review meeting by using a Person Centred Approach.

What do we mean by a Person Centred Approach?

When a child or young person has a special educational need and/or disability, it is very easy for people in a position of authority, such as a local authority, a school or even a parent, to make lots of decisions for them.  We do this because we want to see progress for the child/young person and a lot of the time we think we know best.  However, by not involving the family or the child/young person in their own planning and decision making for their future, we often fail to see the progress we hope for and the child/young person as they grow into adulthood finds him/herself unprepared for taking up their own authority.

A person centred approach is different and it is the way we want to approach out annual reviews of EHC Plans.  By person centred we mean that the child/young person and their family are central to all planning and decision making.  This means regularly checking with the child/young person to find out how they feel about their progress, their targets, the kind of strategies being used, what's bothering them most and what they'd like to happen differently.  Family views on this are equally important.  We believe that if a child and his/her family are fully involved in thinking about planning their future, then there will be a much better outcome for that child/young person.

What does a person centred annual review look like?

The way in which children and young people communicate should always be respected. For those who do not communicate verbally, it is vital to prepare support for their preferred method ahead of the annual review meeting. This could be through DVD clips, photographs with the child's comments or an adult's comments, use of Talking Mats and other SEND specific strategies.

Annual Review meetings have traditionally been quite formal and paper-driven.  We hope that the new formats for reporting on annual progress will be less about reading and writing information during the annual review meeting and more about talking and sharing.  Across the year we will ask for feedback from our educational settings our children and our parents/carers on how well we are achieving this in Lambeth.

When preparing for, organising or being invited to an annual review meeting ask yourself these questions:

Who are the important people in the child/young person's life who would be useful and comforting for the child/young person to have at the meeting?

Too many people at an annual review can be daunting for a child and make the meeting really long, but not having the people there who can give ideas or make things happen would mean a missed opportunity to make things better. Remember it is also a celebration of what the child/young person has achieved over the year, so it could be they want to invite someone who is important to them to share this.

What are the child/young person's strengths (or gifts)?

The child/young person's strengths are the key to making progress. These will already be written into the EHC Plan, but need to be given a strong focus in the meeting to see if new talents/skills have emerged and how the strengths have been used to help with progress in areas of difficulty.

Finding out what the child/young person is good at and what other people consider their strengths to be can help people think about future planning, e.g. the kinds of employment, educational course, career paths, day or social activities they may wish to pursue should be based on the person's strengths.

What is important to the person now and in the future (their dreams)?

This helps the person think about what is important to them in their life. Some things will already be present and will need to continue, whilst other things will need to be planned for.

Learning about what is important to children and young people can also help others to understand their preferences.  Similarly, blue sky thinking (asking what a person's dreams are) can provide ideas about what to pursue in the future.

What kinds of support will the person need to achieve the future they want?

Young People will need to identify key areas in which support is needed, and to talk about how they can get that support.

Looking after health needs will be particularly important for some children and young people and person centred plans should incorporate the person's health and social care support needs.

What do we need to do?

This is also called action planning. This is a way to ensure what has been identified as needing to happen either in the meeting or before the meeting when gathering views actually happens and it is clear who will carry out the action/s.

What paperwork is involved?

All educational settings will have been sent the new documents for Annual Review:

AR0     A checklist of all documents needed to be sent to Lambeth SEND Service at the end of the annual review process

AR1     The Annual Review report – much shorter and uses summary information as the expectation is those settings, children/young people and their families will have been reviewing progress across the year

AR2     The child/young person's views – this is a form, but views can be gathered in all kinds of creative ways, whichever way is best for the child/young person e.g. films, photos etc

AR3     The parent/carer views – again this is a form with some guidance on what to think about and focus on, but if parents/carers do not find it easy to use then other methods can be used such as voice files, film files which can be collected electronically

AR4     Professional reports – this is a format that any education, health or social care professional can use to contribute to the annual review process, or they could submit a report in their own format.  What is important though is that the professionals who are written in to the EHC Plan as providing direct or indirect work with the child/young person should make a contribution as to how successful their involvement has been in making progress towards outcomes

AR5     An Individual Education Plan (IEP) for monitoring progress towards outcomes – this document is an example which educational settings can use or they can use IEPs that are already established in the setting.  The expectation in the SEND Code of Practice is that there is an ongoing GRADUATED APPROACH to monitoring progress towards outcomes.  This means that even though a child/young person has an EHC Plan in place, they still need regular assessment, planning, doing what has been planned and reviewing impact.  Children with an EHC Plan will have complex needs and so require regular review across the year to monitor progress towards Annual or Short Term Outcomes.  The Annual Review reports on progress made towards the Medium and Long Term Outcomes written on the EHC Plan

Settings are also asked to provide:

Attendance figures

Academic progress reports e.g. Early Years Foundation Stage achievements, age expected progress assessments, accredited course grades (e.g. GCSE, ASDAN etc), end of year school reports (most recent)

SEND Profiles being used indicating progress made

Provision Map for the Year

All paperwork to be sent to the child/young person's SEND Management and Monitoring Officer (SMMO) at Lambeth SEND Service 2 weeks after the Annual Review Meeting.

Transition Points – changing phases of education

Chapter 9.179 of the SEND Code of Practice 2014 sets out specific deadlines for reviews and amendments to plans.  This is to ensure that a child/young person's EHC Plan is prepared in good time to consider any commissioning of support that might need to happen in the new setting.

All children and young people transitioning to a new setting must have their EHC Plans reviewed and amended by 15th February of the year they will transition.

For young people moving from secondary school to a post-16 institution or apprenticeship, the review and any amendments to the EHC plan – including specifying the post-16 provision and naming the institution – must be completed by the 31 March in the calendar year of the transfer.

Young people may not meet the entry requirements for their chosen course or change their minds about what they want to do after the 31 March or five-month deadline. Where this is the case, local authorities should review the EHC plan with the young person as soon as possible, to ensure that alternative options are agreed and new arrangements are in place as far in advance of the start date as practicable. We therefore encourage alternative plans to be discussed with the young person throughout the period leading up to the end of Year 11.

Preparing for adulthood in reviews

When a young person is in Year 8 or at least in Year 9 their reviews must include a focus on preparing for adulthood, including thoughts and discussions around:

Employment

independent living

participation in society

maintaining good health in adulthood

This is the beginning of transition planning and must be built into the EHC Plan and where relevant should include effective planning for young people moving from children's to adult care and health services.  We are developing a 16 – 25 focus group in the SEND Service and using this to link with our partners in Health and Social Care.  The EHC Plan is not expected to be amended every year; we will therefore collect this information within the annual review process and as part of the annual review report.

It is particularly important in these reviews to seek and to record the views, wishes and feelings of the child or young person.  It is therefore essential to have the subjects of future employment, independent living, social participation and health and well-being as part of the discussion when capturing the young person's views.

Review meetings taking place in Year 9 should have a particular focus on considering options and choices for the next phase of education.

Exit Planning

When the young person is nearing the end of their time in formal education and the plan is likely to be ceased within the next 12 months, the annual review should consider good exit planning. By this we mean support, provision and outcomes should be agreed that will ensure the young person is supported to make a smooth transition to whatever they will be doing next – for example, moving on to higher education, employment, independent living or adult care.

Short-Term, Medium Term and Long Term Outcomes

During the first year of the legislation we have been learning from our experience of writing EHC Plans by attending Department for Education (dfe) working groups and taking feedback from the people involved in creating and making the plan (families, schools, professionals, SEND team) to establish what is really meant by 'good outcomes'. Our EHC Plans for the year 2014-15 are likely to reflect that learning path; we have some outcomes written in the aspirational way desired and we have some outcomes written very academically.  We also have plans with a varied range of long, medium and short outcome.

We have now set a standard format for Section E of our EHC Plans:

Long Term Outcomes – looking ahead 3 years

Medium Term Outcomes – looking ahead 18 months

We will not have Short Term (or annual) Outcomes on the EHC Plans.  These will be kept in the educational settings own form of paperwork to show there is a graduated approach to monitoring progress across the year toward the short term/annual outcomes and therefore stepped progress towards the Medium and Long Term Outcomes over time. New short term outcomes will be set each year at the Annual Review meeting.

During the annual reviews this year (2015-16), if long term or medium term outcomes need to be extended this can be done at the meeting.  Please speak to your SMMO if you have any questions about this.  If changes in phrasing of the outcomes is requested to reflect the learning direction of the child/young person, e.g. turning an academic outcome into a more aspirational one, this too can be discussed.  Over time we expect our EHC Plans to be refreshed every 3 year cycle, but in these early years we are aware that edits may well be needed.

Are we getting Annual Reviews right?

Feedback will be gathered across the year from the following groups:

Parents/Carers

Children and Young People

Educational Settings

Social Care

Health

Findings will be reported on the Local Offer by early September 2016

Information for Parents/Carers and Young People

Information about EHC assessments, reviews and conversions from Statements of SEN to EHC Plans can all be found on the Lambeth Local Offer http://www.younglambeth.org/local-offer/useful-links/what-are-education-health-and-care-ehc-plans.html