What if you do not agree with your Local Authority or school? At a glance
- If you’re not satisfied with the decisions your school or Local Authority makes about your child’s education, you can appeal at a Tribunal.
- Before appealing you must try mediation first to settle the dispute. If that is unsuccessful, you’ll need to appeal within the deadline.
- You need carefully prepared evidence to support your case at a Tribunal, and you may have to attend the hearing.
- To secure the outcome you want, we recommend you have our legal support and representation during the appeal process.
Every parent wants the best for their child. If your child has Special Educational Needs (SEN), you’ll want to feel confident about the school they attend and the educational support they receive. If you disagree with decisions made by their school or Local Authority, you can appeal.
When you can appeal
If your Local Authority:
- decides not to carry out an Educational Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment,
- decides not to issue an EHC plan,
- does issue a plan but you disagree with its contents,
- makes no changes to the EHC plan or makes changes that you are unhappy with following an Annual Review,
you can appeal their decisions at a Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal. This is sometimes referred to as the First-Tier Tribunal.
You have two months from the date you receive their decision letter to appeal to the Tribunal. Before you appeal, you must show you have tried mediation first. To prove this, you’ll need to obtain a mediation certificate and your appeal must be made within a month of receiving it.
The Tribunal process for SEN appeals takes 12 weeks. You can see all the deadlines involved with the SEN process on our factsheet ‘Statutory deadlines concerning children with SEN’.
If you’re appealing against a refusal to issue an EHC plan or you disagree with the contents of a final EHC plan, you will be expected to attend a hearing. Although the hearing is informal, it is still a legal proceeding and you’ll need to provide evidence.
Successful appeals to the SEND Tribunal need meticulous preparation and strict attention to detail. The Local Authority will probably be represented by a barrister, so to improve your chances of securing the decisions you want, you should have the help of a solicitor.
Your solicitor must understand how to gather and present relevant evidence (for example, from witnesses who can support you with their particular areas of expertise). Our specialist solicitors have in-depth knowledge of education law matters, particularly SEN. We are very experienced in litigation and have dealt with some of the most complex education law cases the Tribunal deals with.
We can help you with:
- Carrying out an initial evaluation to determine the strength of your case.
- A face to face meeting to discuss the case and what’s required for your appeal.
- Drafting the grounds of appeal.
- Preparing appeal documentation and compiling supporting evidence.
- Being a point of contact for the Local Authority and/or school and any other professionals.
- Negotiating with the Local Authority on your behalf.
- Corresponding with the Tribunal on your behalf.
- Preparing the working document – a copy of the final Education Health and Care Plan detailing the disputed areas.
- Representing you at the final hearing.
- We will provide as much or as little support as you want.
Although we only act for parents and families, some of our team have previously represented public sector organisations. This means we have valuable insight into how they reach decisions, and how best we can challenge them on your behalf.
How can we help you?
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Special Educational Needs and Disability First-Tier Tribunal: what to expect
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