Asking your local authority

You can ask your local authority (LA) to provide details of the help that it expects schools to provide using our template letter 17. This is explained in more detail in the refusal to assess appeals pack and the refusal to issue EHC plan appeals pack, as this information is particularly helpful in these types of appeals.

Asking the SEND Tribunal for a direction or order

The SEND Tribunal has certain powers to require someone to provide you with information. It can:

·       Permit or require a party or another person to provide documents, information or submissions to the SEND Tribunal or a party to the proceedings. This could include information from a school, from a therapist, or from social care or health care for example.

·       Order any person to answer any question or produce any document in that person’s possession or control which relates to any issue in the appeal. Again, this is not simply limited to the LA. It could include a wide range of people.

You can ask the SEND Tribunal to direct that the LA arranges a specific assessment to provide further evidence (using the Request for Changes form) although some SEND Tribunal registrars and judges (but not all) take the view that the SEND Tribunal does not have the power to order an LA to carry out a new assessment. For this reason, we suggest you phrase the request as a request for information on a specific issue rather than an assessment.

A request for an assessment is more likely to be successful where the appeal follows an EHC needs assessment which was not conducted properly; for example, where the LA failed to obtain evidence from an educational psychologist. This could be helpful where there is no up-to-date evidence about the child or young person, despite a clear need for such evidence, and the parents or young person are unable to obtain private reports.

Be aware too that LAs should submit both evidence which is unhelpful to their case as well as evidence which supports its case. This has been confirmed by case law. The role of an education authority as a public body at such a hearing is to assist the SEND Tribunal by making all relevant information available. Its role is not to provide only so much information as to assist its own case. At the hearing, the LA should place all of its cards on the table, including those which might assist your case. So, if the LA has information which is helpful to you, it must still submit it.

Asking school/ college for information

Parents of pupils at maintained schools (mainstream or special) and non-maintained special schools have a right to a copy of their child’s educational record.

If you believe your child’s school record includes some key evidence, you can ask the school for a copy of this. You can use our template letter 18 to help you.

If your appeal is about your LA’s refusal to assess or refusal to issue an EHC plan, you can ask for detailed information about the school’s or college’s SEN budget and provision and the number of children/young people it covers can be requested. You can use our template letter 19 to help you. The SEN Information Report (which maintained schools, maintained nursery schools and Academies must produce and publish on their website) must set out the type and extent of special educational provision that they can provide.

You could also obtain information through the Data Protection Act 2018 or the Freedom of Information Act 2000.