For any parents or young people deciding to appeal a Local Authority SEND decision (to not issue an EHCP, or to make inadequate provision in a Plan they issue), it’s important to understand the SEND Tribunal appeals process. There is a reasonably short deadline of two months from the date of the LA decision or issuance of a plan, or one month after receiving a mediation certificate, whichever is the later. This means that it is vital that you obtain legal advice from a specialist SEND Solicitor at the earliest opportunity.
All the information that you need regarding time lines and mediation are contained in the letter you receive from the LA with their decision or final EHC Plan. As soon as you receive the letter and make the decision to appeal, mark the appeal dates on your calendar.
Registering an appeal requires you to complete various forms (online is preferred) and you will also need to send supporting evidence. We always recommend keeping copies of any forms and the evidence that you send so you or your legal representatives can refer to it later. If you submit your appeal by post, request recorded delivery and if you opt for email, ask for a read receipt.
The appeal form needs to be filled out carefully and you must make sure that you have picked the right one as there are different forms for children and young people. If in doubt get some advice or ask someone to check. The last thing you want is to miss a deadline because you sent the wrong form.
At this point you need to explain your reasons for appeal. This is where you explain why you believe the Local Authority’s decision is wrong or why the EHC plan needs to be changed. It’s advisable that you supply evidence to support your arguments, so, for example for a child with ADHD, solicitors would recommend including behaviour reports or, if they are relevant, exclusion letters, which evidence that the current provision is lacking.
It’s worth remembering that the SEND Tribunal is governed by the law, so try to keep your points relevant and organised. Separate them in to paragraphs and always refer to the evidence that backs up your points. If it helps, try numbering each point and then expanding on them.
If you have concerns about filling in the forms or would like advice on the evidence that you need to include you can book a place at one of our SEND law clinics or, alternatively, can book an appointment to speak to one of our SEND solicitors.