When local authorities (“LAs”) make certain decisions about the education and/or training of a child or young person with SEN, there is a right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) (the “SEND Tribunal”). 

To be able to appeal, you must be a parent or a young person over the age of 16. In education law ‘parent’ means you are either a birth parent, have acquired parental responsibility or have care of the child (e.g. a foster parent or grandparent with whom the child lives).

If the decision concerns a child, it is the parent who has the right of appeal. If the decision concerns a young person, then it is the young person who has the right of appeal. (See the section on young people and their rights for more information.)

When can I appeal?

You can bring an appeal to the SEND Tribunal if an LA:

  • refuses to carry out an EHC needs assessment or a re-assessment;
  • refuses to issue an EHC Plan;
  • issues or amends an EHC Plan but you disagree with any or all of Section B (special educational needs), Section F (special educational provision) or Section I (placement);
  • decides not to amend an EHC Plan after an annual review;
  • decides to cease to maintain the EHC Plan at any point.

Note that, from April 2018, parents and young people will also have the right to appeal against the health and social care sections of the plan (Sections C, D, G and H). For more information, see the section about contents appeals.

Before bringing an appeal to the SEND Tribunal, you must consider mediation. This does not mean that mediation is compulsory, but it must be considered. The exception is if you are appealing only about the school or college placement, or where no school or college is named and you are appealing about that fact.

For more information about the process of bringing an appeal about an EHC needs assessment or EHC plan, see our general advice for all appeals. Alternatively, see the separate section about disability discrimination for more information on how to bring a discrimination appeal to the SEND Tribunal.

Transport

Home to school transport is frequently a topic of dispute between parents and LAs. Generally speaking, the SEND Tribunal cannot deal with arguments about transport because it does not normally count as special educational provision. 

Transport may be considered in a SEND Tribunal appeal where transport matters could amount to special educational provision (for example, if a child or young person requires independent travel training, this is capable of being special educational provision). If the argument is around whether or not this should be included in Section F of the EHC plan, the SEND Tribunal can make a decision on that point.

Additionally, LAs are permitted to ask parents to pay for transport where there is a nearer suitable school which the child could have gone to but the parents chose a further away school. LAs can only do this where the nearer school is in fact suitable and the child could have attended there, and the cost of attending the parents’ choice of school is incompatible with the efficient use of resources. This will be specified in Section I of the EHC plan. If a parent disagrees that there is a nearer suitable school, or disagrees that the cost of attending their choice is an inefficient use of resources, the appeal would be about the wording in Section I and not an appeal ‘for transport’.

For more information, see the section on transport and choosing a school or college.