Is this an Annual Review or a Transfer Review?

My son is in Year 5. We have been asked to attend his annual review meeting and his school has given us a document to fill in before the meeting. It's different from anything I've been asked to do before. I have been informed by our local Independent Support Service that the document is usually used as the parents' views appendix to the EHCP.

It also says on the booklet that: 'This booklet records useful information that will help us convert your child's SEN Statement into an Education Health and Care Plan...'

I thought, hold on this meeting should be classified as a transfer review meeting, not an Annual Review, so I emailed my case worker at the LEA. Here's what I received by reply:

'I note your disappointment with regard to the amended final not incorporating all the amendments you had requested.

A colleague in our Transfer Team will be responsible for transferring your son's Statement to an EHCP, but as they are yet to be allocated I cannot give you their contact details. The Senior Planning Co-Ordinator in the Transfer Team will be overseeing the process.

The meeting is a normal Annual Review meeting and should be convened in the usual way. The documents provided for this meeting will be used to inform the transfer process, but it is not the start of the process.  You will be informed in writing by the Transfer Team regarding the start of the process.

The school have arranged the AR meeting and they should ensure that all reports are circulated prior to the meeting as well as letting you have a list of attendees. Hope this helps to answer your queries at this stage.'

I haven't seen any assessments or reports... but I am expected to complete my contribution to the EHCP now and discuss it with the LA in an Annual Review Meeting. This does not seem fair or right! Is it correct for the LA to do this?

Helen Gifford replies

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Helen answers

I have sympathy with you in dealing with this documentation. It's a frequent difficulty that I have come across with annual reviews where local authorities have issued the new paperwork for EHCPs and are asking that it issued for statement of SEN reviews that are not transfer reviews where it really does not fit, and causes expectation of a transfer to an EHCP before the local authority is intending to do it.

My best guess of what has happened is that this is intended to be a 'normal' statement review of the type you have had before, with the transfer to EHCP intended to happen in Year 6 by the local authority - when they must do it. I think that the school have given you the new forms that they have been sent by the local authority, not realising that this may not be entirely suitable at this point in time. The school may also have been expecting this to be a transfer review as the end of year 5 is not an unreasonable time to do this.

You will know when it is a transfer review as the local authority must tell you at least two weeks before they start the transfer to EHCP process that they are about to start this. As your son will be moving into the secondary phase of his education in September 2017, the formal transfer process must start early in the next academic year so that it will be completed by 15 February 2017.

You are not obliged to fill in any particular form for the annual review of your son's statement. If you do not want to fill in the form you have, you can submit your views on how the past year has gone and the suitability of the provision, and what you would like to happen in the future in any format you like e.g. a letter or a copy of the forms you have used before.  It would not be unreasonable to then ask to discuss the form you have been sent at the annual review meeting, so that you can decide if you would like to fill it in now or wait until the transfer process actually starts.

The school is required to send you all the reports that will be submitted for the statement annual review from them and any external practitioners (e.g. speech and language therapist, occupational therapist, specialist teachers etc.) two weeks before the annual review meeting, so if you don't have them, you are well within your rights to insist that they are supplied. One word of warning - the school may not have the reports from external practitioners two weeks in advance and will have little power apart from pointing out that this is what the relevant legislation requires to get them. So, the best case scenario may be that the school sends them to you as soon as they can.

Hope this helps.

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