How Soon After The Annual Review Meeting Should We Receive A Response From The LA?

Parent asks:

When the local authority is amending the EHC plan after the annual review meeting, the SEND Code of Practice states they have to send the original notice within eight weeks. They should also send me a copy of the non-amended plan and an accompanying notice providing details of the proposed amendments, including copies of the evidence used to support the proposed changes.

We received the original notice five weeks ago, we have written to the local authority requesting the necessary information and to date have not had a reply or acknowledgement.

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IPSEA answers:

Once the local authority has held the annual review meeting it is then legally required to send a notice within four weeks stating whether it proposes amending, ceasing or continuing the Plan in its existing form. If the local authority proposes to keep the Plan as it is or cease to maintain the Plan, this will generate a right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. However, if the local authority decides to amend the Plan, there is no time limit by which it must send the amendment notice. The code of practice simply states that where the decision is to amend, the local authority should start the process of amendment without delay (paragraph 9.176). It is only when the notice with proposed amendments to the Plan is sent, that the local authority needs to comply with an 8 week deadline to finalise the amended Plan. This means parents can find themselves in a situation where the outcome of the review is to amend the Plan, but they are then left waiting for a considerable period of time for the actual amendment notice to arrive.

Our advice in this situation is to follow up your letter to the local authority requesting it substitute its original decision to amend the Plan with a decision to leave the Plan as it is. This will bring forward your right to appeal, as the local authority’s failure to send the amendment notice is frustrating your appeal rights. You can then ask for any amendments to your child’s Plan to be determined by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.