SEND Tribunal and the Appeal process
If you are not in agreement with a decision that the Local Authority has made in relation to your (or your child’s) SEND, you might be able to appeal against it to the SEND tribunal. The First -tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) is part of a system of courts which will make a decision on appeals or claims regarding a child’s or young person’s Special educational needs or disability.
When can you appeal?
If you are a Young person over 16 years with SEND or a parent or carer of a child with SEND under 16 years, you can appeal to the SEND tribunal if your Local Authority:
- Refuses to carry out an assessment;
- Refuses to issue and EHC plan after an assessment;
- Refuses to amend an EHC plan following a review or reassessment
- Decides to cease to maintain an EHC plan.
You can also appeal about some of the contents of an EHC plan, but not all parts. The sections you can appeal are:
- Section B: detailing the Special educational needs
- Section F: setting out the Special educational provision
- Section I: naming the school or other setting.
What do you need in order to appeal?
If you wish to lodge an appeal with the Tribunal then you must submit the following:
- An appeal form (which can be downloaded from the SEND Tribunal’s website);
- An LA decision letter - this will state that you have two months in which to appeal from the date of this letter and is usually the cover letter accompanying the final EHC plan;
- A mediation certificate (this is mandatory if you wish to appeal against an EHC-related decision, unless the dispute is simply about the naming of a school) - a mediation certificate can be obtained by contacting the number provided in the LA’s decision letter. You can then appeal within one month of obtaining this certificate. Therefore, the mediation certificate can potentially extend your appeal deadline;
- (If appealing against contents of an EHC plan) The most recent final EHC plan complete with appendices;
- Your Grounds of Appeal (which detail your reasons for appealing the LA’s decision)
Appeals to the SEND tribunal usually take around 20 weeks. If the appeal is concerning a “phase transfer” e.g between primary and secondary school, the tribunal service will try to complete the process in the shorter timeframe of around 12 weeks.
Appeals against a refusal to complete an EHC needs assessment are normally paper based and can be completed quicker than 20 weeks.
All other types of appeal will usually result in an oral hearing heard by a tribunal panel which the young person or parent/carer would normally attend.
Click on the below link for more information direct from the SEND tribunal service.
The below video clips also provide more information on tribunals and what to expect:
Before you can lodge an appeal you need to obtain a mediation certificate. The exception is when you are appealing on section I: the named placement only. Having a mediation meeting with the Local Authority can be useful. It can give you a greater understanding of why a decision was made, it may result in the decision being over turned or you may be able to reach an alternative agreement that you are happy with.
Central Bedfordshire Council currently commission Kids mediation service to deliver an independent mediation and disagreement resolution service. Mediation certificates are obtained by contacting them directly. You do not need to have a mediation meeting with the Local Authority to get a certificate, but you must have had your rights to mediation explained to you by the Kids mediation service.
You may be entitled to legal aid to help you through the appeal process.
Who else can support me?
SENDIASS Officers are happy to support you through the appeal process.