The SEND Tribunal has been using video hearings, in place of face to face hearings, since 2019. The SEND Tribunal anticipates that video hearings will continue for the foreseeable future, with the option of hybrid or face to face hearings where necessary.

There will be a panel made up of a judge and one or two specialist members.

The judge will say how the hearing will proceed. The panel will often want to hear an opening statement from you to get an understanding of what the issues are. They may then give the LA representative an opportunity to give their views.

The panel will ask what progress has been made on the EHC plan using the working document and look at what is agreed and what is not. Amendments which have already been agreed between the parties will usually be accepted but not always. If amendments are in the wrong place, for example, if there is provision in section B, or placement specific information in section F, then at the hearing the panel may well bring these to the attention of the parties and ask for them to be changed.

Then the panel will turn its attention to what is outstanding. Sometimes the parties will be sent out to a separate meeting room (this will usually be a virtual meeting room as most hearings are held remotely over a virtual hearing platform) to see if they can reach agreement. If everything ends up being agreed then the SEND Tribunal can be asked to issue a consent order, ordering the LA to issue the EHC plan in the agreed form which will be attached to the consent order.

If matters are agreed during the course of the hearing, either inside the hearing room or in separate meetings, it will be important to keep a careful record of what is agreed.

The panel may decide that the outstanding matters should be decided by them. They will then simply ask each of the parties for their views and evidence on the disputed points.

A key part of the hearing will be the presentation of evidence about the areas in dispute. Make sure that your witnesses understand the particular amendments they are attending to speak about. Witnesses must be sent a copy of the working document before the hearing.

When assessing conflicting evidence the SEND Tribunal will be considering what weight to give to such conflicting evidence. Relevant issues will be:

  • how often the person has seen your child
  • the qualifications of the person
  • their experience with the type of special educational needs in question, and
  • to what extent their evidence is supported by other evidence.

After the hearing, if the SEND Tribunal has to make a decision, then this will usually be provided to the parties in writing no later than 10 days after the hearing.

In limited circumstances, you can appeal against this decision, or ask for it to be reviewed or set aside. Please see the section on challenging SEND Tribunal decisions for more information. 

If the SEND Tribunal orders the LA to change the contents of an EHC plan, when you receive the amended EHC plan from the LA we recommend that you double check it accurately reflects the wording the SEND Tribunal ordered.

We recommend you also read the section containing general advice on attending a hearing at the SEND Tribunal. If you can’t find the answer to your question, you can book an appointment to speak with us.