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

The judge will direct how the hearing will proceed. The panel will often want to hear an opening statement from the parent or young person 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 and look at what is agreed and what is not. Amendments which have already been agreed between the parties will usually be accepted.

Then the panel will turn its attention to what is outstanding. Sometimes the parties will be sent out to a separate meeting room 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. Before leaving the hearing at the end of the day the panel will usually ask the parties to sign a marked up copy of the EHC plan with the agreed amendments clearly shown, usually with each page being signed. If this has not happened by the end of the hearing, ask for it to be done.

The panel may take the view 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 the 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 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 the child; the qualifications of the person; their experience with the type of SEN; to what extent it 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. 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.