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Long awaited judgement provided clarity regarding annual review timescales for Local Authorities.

This landmark decision provides welcome confirmation of the timescale that each local authority must adhere to when amending an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) as part of a child or young person’s annual review.

An EHCP must be reviewed every 12 months by the responsible Local Authority. As part of this process an annual review meeting takes place. This meeting is attended by parent/carer, school/college, child/young person (if appropriate) and any professionals who have contributed to the special educational provision the child has been receiving. The Local Authority are also always invited to this meeting.

The difficulty often faced by parents and carers following the annual review meeting, is that there has been uncertainty as to when a local authority must issue an amended draft EHCP, if amendments were requested as part of the meeting.

Thewelcome judgment of R (L, M AND P) v Devon City Council found however that there is a fixed timeframe for local authorities in England to complete annual review of EHCPs; specifically in relation to when they must issue an amended draft EHCP.

The judgment confirms that, if the local authority intends to amend the EHCP, the draft amended plan must be issued within 4 weeks of the annual review meeting. The final amended plan must then be issued within 12 weeks of the annual review meeting.

This decision provides much needed clarity that, in addition to writing to parent/carer within 4 weeks of the annual review meeting to confirm whether the EHCP is going to be maintained, amended or ceased, if the EHCP is to be amended then this letter will also enclose the draft amended EHCP for consideration and comment by the parent/carer.

If you need advice in respect of your child’s EHCP, an upcoming annual review or an incomplete annual review, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our specialist education solicitors.

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