Annual reviews - update

Annual reviews update from Kevin O'Brien, Interim Head of SEND.

I know you have all been working incredibly hard to make sure that the children in your schools are safe and that they have activities / work to be getting on with. A number of you have been asking for clarity about whether or not ARs should be going ahead.

The situation at the moment is that the Department for Education has not used any of the powers in the Coronavirus Act to suspend our statutory duties under the Children and Families Act and the associated regulations. That means we are still required to undertake ARs and if in particular circumstance they do not take place we will have to clearly document why for each individual.

We appreciate that this may be difficult but some have already taken place at the end of the last term using online methods that we are all becoming very familiar with. One SENCo has feedback that “it was really productive as XXXX joined us for a while and then watched television but kept re-joining the meeting as he wanted to. It really felt we got his views more than if we had held the meeting in school.” In a different AR a member of SENDSS feedback that the meeting was more focussed but also acknowledged that the SENCo was particularly organised. She kept going at a pace appropriate for the family. This meeting took place at 7.30am before the family got the children up!

These are just a few examples of the creativity you are already using. In addition, we can support children and families to represent their views and contribute to the meeting in creative ways. Such as:

  • drawing pictures
  • creating videos
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Sending questions to them and asking them to make a verbal or written record before the meeting

All of SENDSS and EPs are happy to contribute to these meetings so please liaise with individual team members directly. They are also happy to make the amendments on the plan so that you can focus on the SENCo return aspect of the meeting. You should also remember that there will be some ARs where no amendments are needed to the plan so these can often be more straight forward.

In the next few weeks we will also be issuing some new guidance on conducting Annual Reviews as well as some changes to the way they are reported and administered by SES.

I appreciate that it will be challenging at times but we think that with support ARs can take place. If there are individual circumstances that you would like to discuss please contact your SEND link staff.

Kevin O’Brien
Interim Head of SEND