How annual reviews work

Find out about the EHCP annual review process

What an annual review is

When a child or young person has an education, health and care plan (EHCP) this must be reviewed every 12 months.

The annual review is a formal process that must follow certain legal requirements. It includes a meeting, but this is not the only part of the process.

Annual reviews must:

  • happen at least every 12 months
  • focus on progress towards achieving the outcomes specified in the EHCP
  • consider whether these outcomes and supporting targets are still appropriate

Watch a short video on what an annual review is on the Council for Disabled Children website.

The role of parents, carers and young people

Parents, carers and the child or young person should be fully involved in the annual review process. The process should be person centred.

Some children and young people might want to attend the whole meeting. For others this might be overwhelming. They could attend part of the meeting, or they might want to write, draw or explain their needs to someone they trust before the meeting.

Find out what happens at the different steps in the annual review process.

You can find advice on how to prepare for an annual review meeting on the Contact website.

You can download and print a leaflet about how to prepare for an annual review from the Council for Disabled Children website.

Improving the process

We’re aware that not all families in Essex have had a positive experience with annual reviews in the past. This is a priority area for improvement. There’s work happening to improve:

  • how soon families are communicated with after an annual review
  • the support given to children and young people to be part of the process
  • the quality of amended Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)

You can help to improve this process by leaving your feedback on the Essex Family Forum website.

New ways of working: taking part in the pilot project

To improve annual reviews, Essex County Council are trialling a new approach. This will include new paperwork.

Every school is invited to choose one annual review that is due to take place between February 2024 and May 2024 to try out the new process. Schools can choose whether they wish to take part in the pilot.

Your school will tell you if they are taking part in the pilot and have selected your child's annual review. They will share information about the pilot and discuss with you whether you wish your child’s annual review to be part of the pilot. It is your choice.

If you take part in the pilot, you will be invited to provide feedback on your experience. This will help us evaluate the pilot and make the right changes to the annual review process.

Annual reviews for older children

When a child is in Year 9 or above, annual reviews must include preparing for adulthood. It's important to find out and record the views, wishes and feelings of the young person as part of this.

This should include:

  • employment
  • independent living and housing
  • friends, relationships and community
  • good health

Review meetings may include representatives from post 16 institutions such as colleges. This is so that they can get to know the young person and what works for them.

Early annual reviews 

You can ask your child’s setting for an early annual review if you think that: 

  • your child’s education, health or social care needs have changed a lot
  • the education, health or social care provision in the EHCP is no longer meeting their needs 
  • your child has been excluded or is at risk of exclusion 

Speak to your school's Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) to ask for an early annual review.