At least 10 working days before the hearing you will be informed of the venue and exact time of the hearing.  Be aware that hearings will not necessarily be held in a venue which is local to you so do check the location and travelling times.

The hearing bundle

You will be provided with a hard copy of the bundle in advance of the hearing (the deadline for preparing this will be included in the initial registration letter). The hearing bundle is a copy of all of the documents relevant to the appeal – all of the forms and evidence sent in by you and by the LA, along with any Tribunal orders or other relevant documents. You should carefully check it through to ensure that all of the evidence is in the bundle and no relevant documents have been missed out.

It is best to check the SEND Tribunal guidance on their website for the rules about what should be in the hearing bundle and how it should be prepared.

You should bring the hearing bundle with you to the hearing. Work out where key documents are within the bundle, so that when you’re talking to the judge you can tell them where to look for particular evidence.

The hearing

The hearing will be led by a ‘panel’. For most hearings, this will be two people – a judge and a specialist member with substantial experience of SEN and disabilities. In some cases there may be a third member of the panel, but this is not typical.

In the case of an appeal about a child being brought by a parent, the child is entitled to attend the hearing and the SEND Tribunal may permit the child to give evidence and to address the SEND Tribunal. The parent must inform the SEND Tribunal in advance that they intend to bring their child. Usually the child will come in and see the panel with one person from each side for a chat prior to the hearing. The panel probably won’t want to discuss the case with the child in attendance. The SEND Tribunal does not have facilities to look after children so parents must make arrangements for the child to be looked after or taken home once they have met the panel.

There are some videos explaining what a SEND Tribunal hearing is like on YouTube.

For more information on specific types of appeal see the sections about refusal to assess appeals and appeals about the contents of an EHC plan.

After the hearing

Very occasionally the SEND Tribunal may give a decision orally at a hearing, but generally they provide it in writing later. Either way, the SEND Tribunal must provide the parties with:

  •  a decision notice stating the SEND Tribunal’s decision;
  •  written reasons for the decision; and
  •  notification of any rights of review or appeal against the decision; and
  •  the time within which an application must be lodged,

as soon as reasonably practicable after the hearing.

Generally you will receive the decision and reasons in writing within ten working days of the SEND Tribunal considering your case.