What options do I have following the annual review?
My child's EHC plan was recently reviewed. We requested amendments, which is going to take a long time to get back. The problem we have, we do not have much in the way of evidence to support the requested amendments. I do have three reports, but they aren't full reports. My child has a lot of needs, including health care needs. If I get the plan finalised and request no changes, I can then appeal. My daughter does require a lot of assessments to support her needs. Can I request these at appeal or is it worth finalising the plan and then requesting a full reassessment? Or can I request reassessment while waiting for the amended plan and cancel out the amendment?
You are considering three different options:
- Seeking amendments through the annual review process
- Asking for the plan to be finalised as it is, then seeking amendments via an appeal to the SEND Tribunal
- Asking for a re-assessment with the hope this will result in a new, more appropriate EHC plan.
With the first option, as set out in our annual review checklist, amendments should be made and a draft EHC plan issued ‘without delay’ (unfortunately there is no set deadline for issuing the draft plan). Once the draft EHC plan is issued, it must then be finalised within 8 weeks.
If you think it likely that the LA will refuse to make the amendments you are seeking, then you may wish to simply finalise and appeal. Alternatively, you may wish to take a more co-operative approach of trying to reach agreement on the amendments through the annual review process (whilst reminding the LA of their duty not to delay).
Your second option is requesting that the EHC plan is finalised without any amendments and then appealing to the SEND Tribunal. You will need to provide the Tribunal with evidence to support the amendments you are seeking. It is possible to request that new assessments are carried out as part of the appeal process, but you would need to persuade the Tribunal that the case cannot be resolved without the LA obtaining information. We would caution against using an appeal purely to attempt to get new assessments, as the judge may not be willing to order them. Additionally, appealing the EHC plan will not necessarily be any faster than seeking amendments through the normal annual review process. However, if you think it likely that your LA will not want to work co-operatively to make changes to the plan, it makes sense to go straight to an appeal.
Finally, a full re-assessment may be necessary where there have been significant changes to the child’s needs since the EHC plan was drafted. IPSEA has a model letter you can use to request a reassessment, along with further information about how re-assessments work. If the LA agrees to re-assess, it should complete the assessment and issue a final EHC plan within 14 weeks. As new information will be sought, this will result in a new EHC plan being issued – so there would be no point in continuing to seek amendments to the old plan if you decide to go ahead with a re-assessment.
If the LA refuses to re-assess, you can appeal this decision – but please note this type of appeal will only determine whether or not a re-assessment is necessary. The Tribunal would not be able to order specific changes to the EHC plan.