CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: Complaining when the nursery/school/college is not using its best endeavours to secure special educational provision for a child with SEN (model letter 21)

What should the nursery/school/college be doing?

The ‘appropriate authority’ for the setting (the school governors or equivalent) has a legal duty to use their ‘best endeavours’ to secure special educational provision for all children and young people with SEN for whom they are responsible. This applies whether or not the child/young person has an EHC plan. It does not apply to independent schools.

Children and young people without an EHC plan should receive SEN Support. See the section on how your nursery, school or college should help for more information.

When should I complain?

You should speak to the class teacher and SENCO about your concerns and ask them to discuss the implementation of SEN Support with you. 

If your child still doesn’t receive the support they need, you may wish to make a complaint.

If your child has an EHC plan and the setting is not delivering the special educational provision specified in the plan, you should raise this with the school, but direct your formal complaint to the local authority using our Model Letter 6.   

Who should I write to?

You should follow the school/college’s internal complaints procedure – details should be on their website.

Your complaint is about the ‘appropriate authority’ because this is who the law says must comply with the best endeavours duty.' Who the ‘appropriate authority’ is depends on the type of setting:

  • for a maintained school or nursery school it is the governing body
  • for an academy school it is the proprietor (e.g., the trust)
  • for a pupil referral unit it is the management committee
  • for a further education or sixth form college it is the governing body or board

Check the school/college’s complaints procedure to see who you should direct a complaint about the appropriate authority to.

Please note that this model letter relates to the best endeavours duty. If your complaint is about something else, e.g. the conduct of a particular member of staff or an incident at the setting, the school/college’s complaints policy should say who you should direct your complaint to.

When will I hear back?

There is no fixed time in law, but the school/college’s complaints procedure should set out how the complaint will be dealt with. It would be reasonable to allow two weeks for a response during term time (or longer over the Christmas and summer holidays).

Remember to keep a copy of any letter or email you send. If you don’t get a reply within two weeks, or if you need further advice, you can book an appointment to speak with us or use our call-in helpline.