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 videos explaining what a SEND Tribunal hearing is like and films explaining video hearings at the SEND Tribunal on YouTube.

For more information on specific types of appeal see the sections on appeals abouta refusal to assess, refusal to issue an EHC plan, the contents of an EHC plan or the school other setting named in 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.

When the SEND Tribunal decides that the LA needs to amend an EHC plan, it will often order the LA to issue an amended plan in the form of a working document enclosed with its decision. If there appears to be a mistake in the working document write to the SEND Tribunal and ask them to correct this as an accidental slip or omission. 

If the SEND Tribunal orders the LA to carry out an action (such as start an EHC needs assessment or issue an amended EHC plan), the LA must do so within the deadlines set out in Regulation 44 of the SEN and Disability Regulations 2014.

If the LA does not comply with these deadlines, you can use our model letter to complain.

If you are unhappy with the outcome, in certain limited circumstances you can appeal the decision of the SEND Tribunal.

If the decision comments on the LA’s wider practice or policies, you may wish to alert the Director of Children’s Services of any issues the SEND Tribunal noted that indicate the LA should review and/or improve its ways of working.