Personal Law

Appealing to the SEND Tribunal

January 20, 2020

If you are unhappy with a local authority decision about a SEND assessment, you may decide that you want to make an appeal. Jarmans’ have an expert team of solicitors who have represented a variety of SEND clients at First-Tier Tribunals, (SEND Tribunals).

Before you begin an appeal, it’s important to understand the processes involved.

What is the SEND Tribunal?

The SEND Tribunal (First-Tier Tribunal) is a national tribunal which listens to and considers parents’ and young people’s appeals against local authority SEND assessment decisions. It also considers claims of disability discrimination against schools.

Appeals to the SEND Tribunal happen if parents’ or young people are unhappy with an EHC needs assessment or EHC plan. The Tribunal has the power to order EHC Assessments, EHC plans and to amend existing EHC plans.

Taking an appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal provides the opportunity to have a SEND judgment considered at the same level as higher courts. This is because the SEND Tribunal is governed by the law. As a result, it will look at the evidence put before it and will decide whether the LA was correct in their decision. These judgments are based on the SEN and Disability Code of Practice, judgments about previous SEND disputes and whether the decision is right at the date of the hearing.

Can I appeal to the SEND Tribunal?

In order to appeal you must be a parent or a young person aged over 16. In this instance ‘parent’ can be a birth parent, a person with acquired parental responsibility or a person who has care of a child.

You can appeal a LA decision for a number of reasons, including:

  • LA refusal to carry out an EHC needs assessment or a re-assessment
  • Refusal to issue an EHC Plan
  • Decision not to amend an EHC Plan following a review
  • If you disagree with any or all of Section B (Special Educational Needs), Section F (special educational provision) or Section I (placement).
  • Decision to discontinue the maintenance of an EHC Plan.

As part of the current national trial the SEND Tribunal can make non-binding recommendations with regard to health and social care aspects of the EHC Plan.

You need to consider the possibilities of reaching an agreement with the LA through mediation before you can take an appeal to the SEND Tribunal

Why do we need to try mediation first?

Before you can appeal you will usually need a mediation certificate. Mediation allows you to meet with the LA alongside an independent mediator. You can also invite other relevant parties such as your child or young person’s school or college. Mediation is free of charge and can be a cost-effective way of resolving your dispute.

We don’t want to mediate; how do I get a certificate?

Sometimes you may find that you’ve already had lots of discussions with your LA and mediation isn’t a sensible option. If you have decided that you want to go straight to appeal without mediation, you will need to contact an independent mediation provider.  They can then issue you with a mediation certificate.

Can I appeal about a transport decision?

Arguments about transport don’t normally count as special educational provision, so the SEND Tribunal cannot deal with disagreements over transport alone.

Before you consider an appeal it’s always a good idea to get proper legal advice. Our team of SEND Solicitors run a weekly clinic which you can book a place on. Alternatively, if you are unable to attend the clinic you can make an appointment to speak to one of the team which includes a Solicitor whose own children have Autism and ADHD.