Monday, 25 April 2011

School Governors’ duties towards children with SEN (Annual Review)

Annual Review

Once a local authority (LA) has drawn up a statement the LA must review it within 12 months of the date the final statement was issued and thereafter within 12 months of the previous review (EA 1996 s.328 (5) (b)). The process which the LA and school are required to follow is set out in great detail in the Education (Special Educational Needs) (England)Regulations 2001 (the SEN Regs) in Regulations 20, 21 and 22. Regulation 20 covers most annual reviews, Regulation 21 covers the review for a pupil in Year 9, and Regulation 22 covers reviews where the child does not attend school.

A simpler guide to the Annual Review process is detailed in chapter 9 of the SEN Code of Practice.

Process and timetable

Within two weeks of the beginning of each term, the local authority must write to head teachers with the names of all pupils whose statements will require reviewing that term (SEN Reg 2001 18). The LA, or the head teacher on its behalf, must also notify Social Services and the Health Service who must respond (unless certain exceptions apply) with advice if requested by the head. (EA 1996 s.322(1) & (2) and COP para 9:15). The head teacher (or their delegate) must request written advice from:

• the child‘s parents

• anyone specified by the LA

• anyone the head teacher considers appropriate. (SEN Reg 2001 20(4))

The advice must cover

• the child‘s progress

• the application of the National Curriculum and/or substitutions for the National Curriculum

• whether the Statement is still appropriate, or needs to be amended or dropped

• any Transition Plan (see below) (SEN Reg 2001 20(5))

Arranging a review meeting

The head teacher must invite:

• the child‘s parents

• appropriate members of staff

• someone from the LA who looks after the statement

• anyone else the head or LA thinks appropriate. (SEN Reg. 2001 20(6)

Before the meeting

At least two weeks before the meeting, the head teacher must circulate copies of any written advice, inviting comments, to anyone who has not said that they will not be attending (SEN Reg 2001 20(7)). Very often only teachers and parents will attend and the head will delegate his or her responsibility to the SENCO.

At the meeting

As well as considering the written advice and any new targets for the coming year, the annual review must consider any significant changes to the child‘s circumstances. The meeting may recommend changes to the statement if:

• there is significant new evidence not already covered by the statement

• significant needs recorded on the statement are no longer present

• different help is required to meet the child‘s changing needs and new targets

• the child should change school.

After the meeting

No later than ten school days after the meeting, or at the end of that school term (whichever is earlier), the head teacher must send a report to the local authority and copies to parents and others involved in the review or to anyone else whom the LA or head teacher consider it appropriate that a copy be sent (SEN Reg. 2001 18(4) & 20(12). The report summaries the meeting‘s conclusions and includes recommendations.

Local authority reviews the Statement

The local authority must send a copy of any decision to amend or cease to maintain a Statement to the head teacher and child‘s parents within a week of making the decision. There is no time limit on the LA‘s consideration of the head teacher‘s report but the decision needs to be made within one year of the issuing of the Statement or the previous decision being made.
If an LA decides not to amend a Statement following an Annual Review parents have a right to appeal the decision to the Special Educational Needs and Disability tribunal (SEND).

Other types of review

Transition review for young person in year 9

The process for reviewing the Statements of year 9 pupils is very similar to that of younger pupils (with for instance the same timetable and same issues to be considered) but in addition there must be:

• a focus on post 16 options

• advice sought from the Connexions adviser (or Career Wales adviser),and an invitation to the transition review meeting, which a representative from Connexions must attend.

• a transition plan drawn up by the head teacher in consultation with Connexions covering post-16 options as well as Key Stage 4 support.

Annual reviews after year 9

In addition to the considerations made at annual reviews of younger pupils, these focus on the transition plan and decide whether any additions or amendments should be made.

Interim reviews

Local authorities may use their discretion to bring forward an annual review and a school or parent may ask for (but not require) an early review. The SEN COP and other government guidance suggests this might be appropriate in the following circumstances:

• a sudden deterioration of a child‘s health or development (although reassessment may be more appropriate)

• where a child is under five – the Code suggests more frequent informal reviews (COP Para 4:46)

• a change to their circumstances such as a new diagnosis or a crisis (although again reassessment may be more appropriate) (SEN Toolkit,Section 9, Para. 3)

• exclusion from school or where a child is at risk of permanent exclusion (COP Para 9:44)

• where there is a disagreement at a review meeting over a particular course of action, a review over a shorter period might resolve the dispute. (SEN Toolkit, Section 9, Para. 3)

• where there is doubt about the child‘s transfer to secondary education which cannot be resolved in Year 5, an interim review in the autumn term of year 6 is often required to ensure the statement is amended by the legal date (the Code suggests this is rare but experience suggests otherwise) (COP Para 5:71)

The full report for School governors understand their legal duties to children with SEN from IPSEA can be downloaded from here

IPSEA is a registered charity offering free and independent advice to parents of children with special educational needs in England and Wales on:

• local authorities’ legal duties to assess and provide for children with special educational needs;
• exclusions of children with special needs/disabilities;
• actions or inaction
by local authorities and/or schools which discriminate against children with disabilities

Website Twitter @IPSEAcharity

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