*PLEASE NOTE - IMPORTANT CHANGES HAVE BEEN MADE FOR CASES REGISTERED IN THE TRIBUNAL AFTER 1ST AUGUST - SEE BELOW*
When Local Authorities make certain decisions about the education and/or training of a child or young person with SEN, there is a right of appeal to an independent Tribunal – The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal, known as “SEND”. If the decision concerns a child, it is the parent who has the right of appeal. If the decision concerns a young person, then it is the young person who has the right of appeal.
The appealable decisions are: refusal to carry out an EHC needs assessment (and refusal to reassess); refusal to issue an EHC plan; refusal to amend an EHC plan following a review or reassessment and a decision to cease to maintain an EHC plan. There are also rights of appeal about the contents of an EHC plan which can be about:
(i) The child or young person’s special educational needs;
(ii) The special educational provision specified in the EHC plan;
(iii) The school or other setting named in the EHC plan or the type of school or setting;
(iv) If no school or other setting is named, that fact.
* CHANGES TO THE TRIBUNAL PROCESS FOR CASES REGISTERED AFTER 1ST AUGUST*
From 1st August 2016, all Refusal to Assess appeals against the Local Authority's decision not to carry out an EHC needs assessment, will now be considered on the papers without the need for the parties to attend a hearing. If you would like an oral hearing you can still make a request for this in writing, explaining your reasons for wanting the hearing, and this will be considered by a Registrar or Judge.
Shorter timetable for appeals
The Tribunal has also announced that it is changing the timetable over which appeals will be carried out. Discussions took place at meetings with those who use the Tribunal over these changes, and they are meant to make the Tribunal process quicker for those involved in it.
All SEN appeals registered after 1st August 2016 will now have a 12 week timetable (instead of the previous 20 week one). Appeals about disability discrimination will continue to have longer timetables.
The timetable for your appeal will be set out in the Tribunal's registration letter and directions. You should read these very carefully and note the important dates as it is still possible that some appeals might be listed on a slightly different timetable depending on the availability of Judges and Panel members.
If the matter is urgent, or you would like your case to be listed in less than 12 weeks, you can ask for that to happen. The Tribunal has introduced an 'Earlier Hearing Date' form which you could use to ask for this. If you do want to ask for a shorter timetable it will be helpful to let the Local Authority know that you are doing so, and try to see if they will also agree to the appeal being dealt with more quickly.
Before bringing an appeal to SEND, consideration of mediation must come first. This does not mean that mediation is compulsory, but it must be considered. The exception is an appeal about the school/college placement or where no school/college is named.
A decision that is challengeable by bringing a case to SEND could potentially be eligible for legal aid. The type of help available is known as “legal help”. A parent or young person with a right of appeal eligible for this will receive support from a solicitor to prepare the case and may also be able to obtain funding for any additional evidence needed such as reports from independent experts. It will not include advocacy support at a hearing. To check if you may be entitled to legal aid, check the civil legal advice website https://www.gov.uk/civil-legal-advice
The Tribunal also hears claims about disability discrimination against the responsible bodies of schools.
Please remember to keep copies of all your paperwork (letters, reports etc.) as these may be needed to support your claim.
This page is about appeals under the Children and Families Act 2014. However during the transition period there will still be many appeals under the “old law” and you will find a resource about appeals under the Education Act 1996 in the resources on the right.
Go to the top of the page and click the SEND TRIBUNAL RESOURCES tab for the following:
A briefing about appeals under the “old law”
The Tribunal booklet “How to appeal” for new law appeals about EHC Plans and EHC needs assessments
The Tribunal booklet “How to appeal” for old law appeals about statements
Advice for parents and young people appealing to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal
Our Tribunal Helpline Gives next step advice on SEN appeals and disability discrimination claims to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. When you call we will also assess whether you need casework support. Please click here to book an appointment to get one of our advisers to call you back.