SEND Tribunal: The National Trial

The National Trial began on 3rd April 2018 and extended the powers of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal under The Special Educational Needs and Disability (First-tier Tribunal Recommendations Power) Regulations 2017.

Previously the Tribunal could only order amendments to Sections B, F and I of a child or young person’s EHCP.  From April 2018, where a parent or young person opted to have their appeal registered under The National Trial this enabled the Tribunal to also make non-binding recommendations about health and social care issues related to the child or young person’s SEN in relation to Sections C, D, G and H of an EHCP.

The National Trial came to an end on 31 August 2021.

On 20th July 2021, following a consultation process with stakeholders and having evaluated the impact of the National Trial, the Department for Education confirmed that the extended powers given to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal to make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care aspects of EHC Plans, will continue.  It is important to note that an appeal to the SEND Tribunal cannot be brought solely in relation to either the social care or health issues in a case.  All appeals before the SEND Tribunal must include a challenge to the educational aspects of the EHCP.

A SEND Tribunal decision could include a recommendation that a child should be referred for assessment by CAMHS or could include a recommendation to increase term time/holiday support, respite or short breaks.

Recommendations are non – binding but should not be dismissed without due consideration.  Where a social care team or health commissioning body decides not to follow the SEND Tribunal’s recommendations, they should provide reasons within 5 weeks of the Tribunal’s decision being issued.

If parents or the young person are unhappy with the refusal to comply with SEND Tribunal’s recommendations they may have grounds for Judicial Review or they can consider pursuing a complaint concerning social care to the LA initially and then to the Local Government Ombudsman. However, if the matter concerns health issues the complaint would be made initially to the service provider and then to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Contact us

At Tayntons we can advise you on the best course of action if you are having difficulties with the local authority over your child’s needs.  Our team represents parents of children with a range of SEN.

If you would like to speak to our expert SEN law solicitor, Imelda Brennan, call us on 0800 158 4147, email us at  or request a call back and a member of our team will be in touch promptly.

To contact us please call 0800 158 4147 or 03330 145451 or email

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