If you are requesting changes and amendments to an EHC plan, you will need to provide evidence to support the changes you want made.

Professional reports

Key evidence about your child or young person’s special educational needs (SEN) and the provision required to meet that SEN will usually be found in reports from professionals.

If the EHC plan under appeal has just been issued following an EHC needs assessment then there will be recent reports obtained as part of the assessment. There may also be reports you supplied to your LA as part of the statutory assessment which your LA did not take into account.

There may be no recent reports; for example, if the appeal takes place some time after the EHC needs assessment, or if the assessment was not carried out properly and no new reports were obtained by the LA. Alternatively, there may be recent reports but they do not support the amendments you are looking for. If you don’t have recent reports or supporting reports, you will need to look for professional evidence to support your arguments.

Useful sources of expert opinion include:

  • The health service: if your child or young person has been seen recently by a specialist or is receiving help from a health professional such as a speech and language therapist, they may be able to comment on your child’s SEN and what support they require.
  • School or college: as well as evidence from the current school or other institution, it may be helpful to request reports from teachers at a previous school or other setting if your child or young person has recently moved.
  • Privately obtained reports from independent professionals, such as an educational psychologist, occupational therapist or speech and language therapist. The relevant professional organisation (such as the British Psychological Society for educational psychologists) publishes names of members who can provide a private assessment. If the professional specialises in the difficulties experienced by your child or young person their views will have more weight. Private reports can be very expensive, so you may wish to consider:
    • checking your eligibility for Legal Aid, as this could cover the cost of an independent report. Please see the section on where to get help with an appeal for more information
    • contacting voluntary organisations that specialise in a particular disability who may be able to provide an assessment at a modest or subsidised cost, and
    • contacting voluntary organisations who support parents going to the SEND Tribunal to obtain privately instructed reports (such as Parents in Need).

If you do decide to obtain privately instructed expert reports, make sure they are compliant with the SEND Tribunal guidance for expert witnesses. It’s best if this type of report complies with this guidance because this is a reason for the SEND Tribunal to give it more weight. However, if you got an independent expert report before you knew you were going to appeal and it remains relevant but doesn’t comply with everything in the guidance, you can still use it as evidence in an appeal.

If there was a recent EHC needs assessment, your LA should have sought information and advice from a range of professionals, including an educational psychologist – please see the section on what happens in an EHC needs assessment for more information. If your LA should have obtained an up-to-date report from a particular professional and failed to do so, you should ask it to do this. If it refuses you can ask the SEND Tribunal to order that your LA obtains the report needed.  You can do this using the Request for Changes form (see the section on preparing the case before the hearing for more information).

Other evidence about needs and provision

As well as professional reports, the following can be useful sources of written evidence:

  • Written statements from those involved with your child or young person such as a teacher or someone who knows them from outside school, such as a worker at a youth club or a carer. This can be particularly useful if they cannot attend as a witness.
  • As a parent or young person, your views and experiences – what you have to say is evidence. Although you will be there on the day of the hearing it may be sensible to put in a witness statement explaining your perspective to ensure you  get all your points across.
  • If you are bringing an appeal for your child, then your child’s views, written by themselves if they are able to do so or via a third party.
  • Home–school diaries.
  • Video/audio evidence (this should be short and to the point; video evidence more than 10 minutes long is highly unlikely to be watched in full). It would be best to contact the SEND Tribunal to find out how to submit your evidence, and you should send with it an explanation of who made the recording and how long it is, the nature of the evidence, the identity of any witness recorded, and a statement of the facts the evidence seeks to establish.
  • Published information from voluntary groups relating to your child’s learning difficulty, or references to relevant research and findings – although beware of relying too much on secondary evidence. The best evidence is going to be primary evidence about your child or young person.
  • Reports from annual reviews.
  • Examples of your child or young person’s work over time. 

The key point is to think about the changes you want made to the EHC plan, and work out what evidence you need to show that those changes are necessary.

Evidence about the school or other institution

If you are asking for the name of the school or institution in section I to be changed, you should include relevant information about the school or institution you want to be attended.

This should include its most recent Ofsted report, its prospectus, details of the costs of the placement, and any reports or assessments about your child or young person which the school or other institution has produced. You can refer to this evidence to support your arguments that this setting can support the child or young person’s needs.

In the case of a school which is wholly independent, you will need to include the consent of the school to be named or an offer of a place in order to ask the SEND Tribunal to name it in the EHC plan. This is because the SEND Tribunal cannot name such a setting without its agreement to be named. Please see the section on choosing a school or college for more information about which schools are classed as ‘wholly independent’.

We recommend that you also read the section containing general advice on preparing your case before the hearing. If you can’t find the answer to your question, you can book an appointment to speak with us.