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Visual Impairment :
Special Educational Needs
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ANNUAL REVIEWS

The LA must review the child’s progress towards achieving the outcomes specified in the EHCP annually and must consider whether the outcomes and supporting targets are still relevant. Schools will be provided with details of review meetings needed each term and it is usually the SENCo/Inclusion manager who will make the arrangements for the meeting. Paragraph 9.167 of the SEN Code of Practice states that as part of the process for the annual review the LA must :

  • Collect information about the child's prerformance and assess it to ensure progress and access to teaching and learning.
  • Review the child's special educational provision to ensure it is effective
  • Review the child's health and social care provision
  • Check that the EHCP is stille appropriate and whether any changes should be made, or whether the EHCP should be discontinued.
  • Review interim targets and set new ones for the coming year and agree new outcomes if needed

Paragraph 9.176 lays out the requirements for an annual review :

  • The child’s parents or young person and all professionals involved must be invited to the review and be given at least two weeks’ notice of the date of the meeting.
  • The school must obtain advice and information about the childprior to the meeting from all parties invited, and send the information gathered to all those invited at least two weeks before the meeting.
  • The review meeting must focus on the child's progress towards achieving the outcomes in the EHCP, and on what changes might need to be made to the provision made to help the child achieve those outcomes.
  • The school must produce and send a report of the meeting to everyone invited within two weeks of the meeting.
  • Within four weeks of the review meeting, the local authority must decide whether to keep the EHC plan as it is, amend it, or cease to maintain the plan, and notify the parents and school.
  • If any amendments are needed, the local authority should start the process without delay.
  • If the local authority decides not to amend the plan they must notify the child’s parents of their right to appeal that decision, the time scale for appeal, mediation arrangementd and the availability of information, advice and support and disagreement resolution services.

Note the second paragraph. All reports and documents must be sent out two weeks before the review meeting. Frequently parents/carers we support are sent the paperwork the day before, or, worse, given it at the meeting. SENCos should be reminded of this requirement when the meeting is scheduled. This is particularly important in the case of transition reviews or those where a request for a change to an EHCP is being made, or a complaint is lodged against provision. The date of the review meeting must allow the EHCP to be amended and reissued by a specific date in transition years.

Paragraph 9.179 of the SEN Code of Practice states

The EHCP must be reviewed and amended in sufficient time prior to a child moving between key phases, and must be completed by 15th February in the year of transfer. Keys transfers are :

Early years to school
Infant to junior school
Primary to middle school
Primary to secondary school
Middle to secondary school

This date is important. The appeal process, mediation and appealing to SEND, takes about 4 months, so an appeal lodged to SEND during March will probably be heard in July, i.e. before the end of the academic year. In the case on Section I appeals, for change in placement, it is vital to have the Tribunal decision before the end of term so that transition arrangements can be put in place.

For transfers from secondary to sixth form the date is later, set out in paragraph 9.180

For young people moving from secondary school to a post-16 institution or apprenticeship, the review and any amendments to the EHC plan – including specifying the post-16 provision and naming the institution – must be completed by the 31 March in the calendar year of the transfer.

ANNUAL REVIEW CHECKLIST

When should the annual review be held ? This depends on the child's year group. Look at the date of the previous meeting. It must be held within a year of the previous meeting, and for transition years for key transfers (i.e. primary to secondary), the meeting may have to be brought forward so the EHCP can be discussed, amendments requested and the new EHCP issued by February 15th, so during the Autumn Term.

 

The school will propose a date for the annual review meeting. They should request comments from parents and professionals at least 4 weeks prior to the meeting. If the timescale is less than this then contact the school to find out why. If there are likely to be contentious issues you could insist on rescheduling the meeting to allow the appropriate time for all reports and comments to be collected and sent out to all those attending the meeting.

 

Parents' comments.

You should make sure you have all relevant documents, such as report of the previous meeting, interim reports and assessment, recent reports from professionals, e.g. paediatrician, National curriculum levels.

You should list all of the issues causing concern or which need to be discussed.

Many LA's send a proforma to be completed. You should describe

a) the aspects of the child's educational support and provision that are going well.

b) the issues which are causing concern, for example, things that cause anxiety to the child, things that are not going well or any provision in the EHCP which is not being delivered.

c) Look at the outcomes. These should be SMART, and therefore time related. Have they been achieved; are they still appropriate; do they need upgrading or rewriting; are there new outcomes which should be included.

d) List any requests for amendments to the EHCP you think are needed. This may be additional support as a result of a new assessment, increased LSA time, increased QTVI input.

e ) If you want the child to go to a different school you should make the request in your comments, giving your reasons. If the LA rejects a request for an amendment made at the annual review meeting you will have the right to appeal to SEND.

Note that in many cases the support and provision made at the school is good and no changes or amendments need to be made.

If you want a supporter to go with you to the meeting you should make the request in your comments, asking that he/she is sent the paperwork in advance.

You should send this the school at least 2 weeks before the meeting.

 

You should receive all the paperwork, including the school's reports and those of professionals such as the QTVI at least 2 weeks before the meeting. This gives you sufficient time to analyse the reports. If the paperwork does not arrive then contact the school.

Look at progress. Is attainment in line with your expectations ? Does your child complain about being unable to access or complete work, including homework ? Do you think the school reports indicate low expectations for your child's attainment because he/she is visually impaired ? Does he/she have full access to the curriculum on a par with his/her sighted peers ? Is he/she able to move freely around the school site ? If not, what mobility/independence training is being provided ?

Is you child's self esteem/attitude an issue ? A visually impaired child's experience can be that his/her sighted peers can do many things that he/she can't and can resent the support and additional provision made as he/she does not want to be different.

In a case we have dealt with, severe visual impairment was the child's only identified disability. The child made little progress over a number of years. Appropriate VI support had been put in place and assistive technology provided so he should have made progress. However his lack of progress could not be explained by his visual impairment. After much pressure the LA carried out further assessments and found that the child was also dyslexic. He made significant progress once provision was made for this.

Do you think that your child has undiagnosed additional special needs ?

 

At the meeting.

Usually the meeting is chaired by the school SENCo/Inclusion manager, and attended by other staff and educational professionals involved with the child's education. On occasions the meeting involves many people and parents can feel outnumbered. However a well run meeting should not prevent you from expressing your views and you should not feel threatened. Meetings can be difficult if you are criticising the school and staff become defensive.

The chair will review the child's progress against the outcomes in the EHCP and whether targets have been met. You will have your opportunity to discuss you comments and raise any issues you have. Other staff and professionals at the meeting will give their reports.

Make sure staff are realistic and honest about attainment and progress. Many well-meaning staff want to be encouraging and supportive and will tell you how well he/she is doing, even though attainment levels do not show this. Phrases such as "Barney is doing so well, he's coping with school" indicate a lack of experience and understanding of visual impairment and low expectations of what a VI child's potential is. Staff should support and make provision that allows the child to thrive as other children do; coping is not good enough. Challenge any comments which imply low expectations and provision/support that does not allow the child to thrive.

The chair will ask about any changes needed to the EHCP. Make sure that any you want are noted. He/she will also ask if the EHCP should be maintained or ceased.

At the end of the meeting you should feel that you have had the opportunity to raise and discuss all the issues that you have.

 

You should receive the report of the meeting within 2 weeks. Check it carefully and make sure that it represents what was discussed at the meeting and that points you made or amendments you requested have been included. If anything has been omitted or misrepresented contact the SENCo and ask for corrections to be made.

 

The LA considers the report of the annual review meeting and will decide if the EHCP should be maintained or ceased, and if any amendments requested should be made within 4 weeks of the meeting. They will inform you of any decisions about amendments and about your right to appeal against their decision.

 

If you requested amendments to the EHCP and they have been rejected you should decide whether you wish to lodge an appeal to SEND.