You will need to think carefully about who you would like as witness(es).

Generally, a witness will only be helpful if they have knowledge of your child in a relevant professional context. If you are asking for speech and language therapy provision to be included in section F for example, a speech and language therapist recommending the provision you are seeking who is currently working with your child may be a very helpful witness.

If your appeal involves section I (placement) it is very helpful (if not essential) to have a witness from your choice of school, especially if it is an independent school.

Although there is no legal bar on the number of witnesses, SEND Tribunal practice is to limit the number of witnesses in an SEN appeal to three. If you want more witnesses than that, then an application will need to be made for the additional witnesses with reasons.

If you have someone who would be helpful to attend as a witness and they are willing to attend but feel constrained unless they are ordered to attend (for example, a teacher who wants to support the family but has been told by their employer they cannot attend) then you can apply to the SEND Tribunal for a witness summons.  This application for a witness summons should be made using the Request for Changes form, or form SEND30: Request for a Witness Summons. It should be requested well in advance of the hearing (unless the SEND Tribunal directs otherwise, a summons must give the witness at least 14 days’ notice of the hearing).

The name and address of the witness will need to be given, but this can be their workplace address. It will be necessary to say why this person’s evidence is important and why they might not attend voluntarily.

If granted, the summons will be sent to you and it is your responsibility to serve it on the witness.

All witnesses can claim travel expenses and a fixed amount for loss of earnings from the SEND Tribunal.

Witnesses will normally stay for the whole hearing. If a witness can only attend part of a hearing, the SEND Tribunal may accommodate this. The sooner a party requests the SEND Tribunal do so the better.

The SEND Tribunal has indicated that witnesses will not be allowed to attend the hearing unless they have previously provided a written report or witness statement as written evidence. Make sure any witnesses you decide to ask to attend refer to the SEND Tribunal’s guidance ‘if you're asked to be a witness’ when writing their statement/report and that their report or statement includes everything requested.