What is an Annual Review?
All Statements of Special Educational Needs (Statement) are reviewed within a period of twelve months to ensure that the child or young person’s needs are still being met and that the school or placement is still right for them.
Requesting an earlier review
You do not have to wait for a year to review the Statement, parents can request an early Annual Review if you feel the Statement is no longer meeting your child’s needs or there has been a change to your child’s situation and/or needs.
Speak to the school about your concerns as well as writing to your regional office of the Education Authority
You may find it helpful to look at this sample letter keep a copy of your letter and the date it was sent
What is the purpose of an Annual Review?
Annual Reviews are carried out to:
- look at your child’s progress and to find out if they are meeting the objectives set out in the Statement
- to assess if the school placement and the support provided for your child, are still suitable
- to decide if any changes in provision are needed
- to consider if your child still needs a Statement or if it should be ended.
Who carries out the Annual Review?
The school undertakes the Annual Review on behalf of the Education Authority (EA).
The EA will write to the Principal to inform them of the date for the Annual Review.
What is the parent’s role in the Annual Review?
It is important for a parent to attend and contribute to an Annual Review. It is different from a parent/ teacher meeting as it is the Statement and its contents that is under review. Important decisions could be made about support provided for your child and changes can be made to the Statement, even if you are not at the Review
How does the review process work?
- EA notifies school of date
The EA writes to the Principal to notify them of the date for which your child’s Annual Review is to be completed. They must give the Principal at least 2 months’ notice
- Principal collects information
The Principal asks for written contributions from parents, the EA, and all professionals involved in supporting your child and anyone else they think appropriate. This should be at least 6 weeks ahead of the date of the Annual Review Meeting.
- Invitation to attend review and opportunity to comment on contributions
Invitations to attend the review meeting should be sent by the Principal to parents and all attendees at least 2 weeks before the meeting. Copies of the written contributions should be shared with all attendees including parents, allowing opportunity for any written comments about the contributions to be submitted ahead of the review meeting. The Principal must, in writing, request that written comments are sent to them before the meeting or brought to the meeting.
There is no requirement for a written contribution to be given, except for those requested of the Health Trusts, who must respond with a contribution or a letter explaining why one is not needed. (Health Trust Services are required under Article 14 of the Education Order to respond to requests for written advice, except if there is a valid exception as listed under paragraph 4 of that article.)
- What should I include in my parent contribution and how can I prepare for the meeting?
The Annual Review Form found in the EA’s Annual Review Notes of Guidance September 2023 contains a template that can be used for your parental contribution. It contains four questions to answer:
- Have there been any major changes which might have affected your child’s progress at school (e.g. medication, family circumstances)?
- What do you think of the progress that your child has made in the past year?
- What progress would you like to see in the coming year?
- Is there anything else you would like to discuss at the meeting?
You do not have to use this template if you do not feel it adequately covers the amount of information you would like to submit. You can write your own report if you wish.
Remember you are also commenting on the extent to which you feel the Statement is meeting your child’s needs.
You can prepare for the meeting by making a list of questions, ideas or requests. Take this with you and you can tick items off the list as they are answered throughout the meeting.
Before the meeting, ask the school who will be attending and ask to see the other written contributions, which should be submitted at least 2 weeks before the meeting. This may not always be possible however, as the principal may not receive the contributions in this deadline and some contributions are only presented on the day of the meeting. If this happens you can ask for time to read these contributions.
- Who will be at the review meeting?
The Annual review meeting usually takes place in your child’s school. You may wish to have a friend, relative or an independent adviser for support or to take notes. If you do wish someone to attend let the school know beforehand.
The meeting will be led by the principal or someone nominated by them. Others invited could include a representative of the EA, your child’s teacher or SENCo or any other professionals that are involved with your child’s education. It is not however a requirement that those invited must attend. Their submitted written contributions will be taken into account if their attendance is not possible.
It is up to the school who will attend but if you feel the Statement is out of date and there are many changes required, you can ask that the EA officer who is monitoring your child’s statement should attend.
All appropriate arrangements should be made to ensure that the Annual Review is fully accessible, for example translation services, forms in braille format, large print etc.
- The review meeting will consider the concerns you submitted in your parental contribution, as well as any significant changes in your child’s circumstances since the statement was first made or last reviewed.
The meeting will consider whether the Statement is still required and meeting your child’s needs and whether the school placement is still suitable.
The Annual review is your opportunity to give your views on your child’s progress and goals for the future. It is also an opportunity to raise any concerns or questions.
- Recommendations at the meeting
The meeting will also recommend any steps to be taken, including whether the EA should amend or stop the Statement. The review meeting may recommend changes to your child’s Statement if:
- there are significant new needs which were not previously recorded on the Statement
- there are no longer the same significant needs as previously recorded on the Statement
- different provision is required to meet your child’s changing needs and targets specified at the review meeting
- your child is moving schools either when starting a new stage of education or if their needs would be better met at a different school
- Form AR
The Annual Review form (Form AR) will be completed and signed in the meeting. The completed form should accurately reflect the issues discussed and the views of all in attendance.
If you do not agree with the recommendations, you should make your views known in the meeting. If anyone in attendance is not in agreement this should be noted on the form and details should be attached.
- EA reviews Statement
After the review meeting the Principal will write a report and send to the EA within two months. The AR form will be forwarded to the EA with copies circulated to all attendees including parents and all advice givers not in attendance. You can also submit your own comments on the review in writing to the EA.
Once the EA receive all documentation including the Form AR, written contributions and comments, they will review the Statement. They will take account of the report and any other information or advice which is relevant. The EA will write to the parent to inform them of their decision.
Can I appeal decisions made at the Annual Review?
The EA may make any of the following decisions:
- Propose an amendment(s) to the Statement. Parents have the right to appeal the EA’ s decision to The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST)
- EA may decide not to make changes to the Statement. Parents cannot appeal this decision; however, this will change when the new legislation is in place
- EA may decide to stop the Statement, this is referred to as ceasing to maintain the Statement. Parents have the right to appeal to the SENDIST
If you receive a letter from the EA proposing changes to your child’s Statement, you will be sent an amendment notice and given 15 days to respond. When the EA issues an amended final statement after the 15-day consultation period, you will be given the right to appeal to the SENDIST within two months. Click here for further information about appeals.
If your child is due to start primary or move to secondary school, the transition arrangements should be considered at the annual review. This will be during their last year of their current school or Nursery.
It may be necessary to speak to the school about having the annual review earlier to allow time for considering what type of school will best suit your child and time to make arrangements. It will then be possible for you to visit all proposed provisions and consider the options carefully.
The EA has to consider your preference for a school. However, they can still name a school they think can meet your child’s needs. However, when the statement is issued you will be given the right to appeal to the SENDIST
The Transition Plan should clearly outline the responsibilities that specific agencies and professionals have for each aspect of the young person’s development. The Plan should build on the information gathered from all involved. It should cover strengths and weaknesses, areas of need and other relevant aspects of their development.
Annual review after 14th birthday
The first annual review after your child’s 14th birthday (and any subsequent annual reviews) should include a Transition Plan. The focus will be on your child’s needs should they decide to stay on at school, move into further education, training or employment.
The transition planning process will begin when your child moves into year 10 and the Transition Planning meeting will take place within the annual review meeting.
Every young person age 14+ with a Statement of Special Educational Needs will have a named Transition Coordinator from the Education Authority. The coordinator will ensure that a Transition Plan is compiled, maintained and reviewed on a yearly basis. Some young people with statements of special educational needs will remain at school after the age of 16 years. The Education Authority only remain responsible for the provision for your child until the end of the term during which they reach 19 years.
You and your child will meet your Transition Coordinator in the first term of Year 10. They will support you through the process and liaise with school and relevant statutory and voluntary agencies to ensure a smooth transition.
The EA will arrange the transition meeting and will invite you as parents, relevant staff (if young person is at school) and anyone else the EA consider appropriate. This meeting should involve agencies and professionals who will play a major role during your child’s post school years. The EA must invite representatives of the health and social services and the careers service.
The EA prepares the review report and the Transition Plan after the meeting. These will be circulated to parents, the Principal, those who attended the meeting and anyone whose advice was sought.
Areas addressed by the Transition Plan
The Transition plan should address the following areas:
- What curriculum needs will your child have during transition? How can the curriculum help them play a role in the community, make use of leisure and recreational facilities, assume new roles in the family and develop new educational and vocational skills?
- What other agencies should be approached to ensure a smooth transition?
- How can close working relationships with other agencies be developed to ensure effective plans for your child’s transition? Which new professionals need to be involved?
- Does your child have any special health or welfare needs?
- What training and technological support can be arranged, during their remaining school years, to foster skills of independence e.g.travel and managing money/budgets?
- When and how will information from children’s services be transferred to adult services?
- What are your expectations for your child’s adult life? What are your thoughts on how you can you contribute to help your child develop personal and social skills?
- Will you have new care needs and require help, aids or adaptations?
- What information will they need to make informed choices about what they do next?
- What local advice and advocacy services are available and how can they be accessed?
- What can be done to encourage the young person to contribute to their Transition Plan and to help them make positive decisions about their future?
- How will their hopes and aspirations for the future be recorded and how can they be met?
Ref: Department of Education NI (1998) Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs (page 64, 6.36)
See our Advice section to download a copy of the Code of Practice and the supplement to the Identification and Assessment of Special Educational Needs