Appealing to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST)
The Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal is an independent body that resolves disagreements between parents and local authorities.
A parent (or a young person over the age of 16) has a right of appeal to the SEND Tribunal where the responsible Local Authority:
- refuses to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assessment
- carries out an EHC needs assessment and refuses to issue an EHC Plan
- issues a Final EHC Plan or a Final amended EHC Plan
- decides not to make any changes to an EHC Plan, following an Annual Review
- decides to cease to maintain an EHC Plan
If your Local Authority has made any of the above decisions you will have a right of appeal to the SEND Tribunal. If you decide to go ahead with an appeal, then there are strict time limits for doing so.
We provide specialist legal advice and support about SEND Tribunal appeals. If you have any questions or concerns, or would like our help with a SEND appeal, our specialist education solicitors are here to help.
Our expert Education Law solicitors can review your case and determine whether you have grounds for pursuing an appeal to SENDIST. We can assist you in preparing and drafting the strongest possible case, and support and represent you during the tribunal process to give you the best chance of achieving your desired outcome.
The SENDIST appeals process
Any appeal must be lodged with the Tribunal either within 2 months of the date of the LA’s decision letter being sent to a parent or young person, or within, 1 month of the date of a Mediation Certificate being issued, whichever is the later.
Parents or young people are required to provide sufficient grounds of appeal when setting out their case for a SEND Tribunal appeal. You will need robust, comprehensive and up-to-date evidence to support your position.
The Tribunal will consider written and oral evidence submitted by both parties to the appeal before making its decision.
The Tribunal can draw on its own expertise when reaching a decision and should issue a written decision within two weeks of the appeal hearing.
It is important to note that in most cases you will need to obtain a Mediation Certificate before the Tribunal will register your appeal.
When a parent or young person wishes to appeal to a SEND Tribunal, they will usually need to obtain a Mediation certificate from a mediation adviser.
There is no requirement to engage in mediation but you will need to obtain a Mediation Certificate in most appeals.
A parent or young person does not need to consider obtaining a Mediation Certificate when the appeal only concerns:
- The school/institution named in the EHC Plan
- The type of school/institution named in the EHC Plan
- The fact that the EHC Plan does not name a school/institution.
In all other cases, the parent or young person will first need to contact a mediation adviser (the LA should give details) within the 2-month appeal deadline.
The mediation adviser must provide information about pursuing mediation.
Where the parent or young person decides not to pursue mediation the mediation adviser must issue a Mediation Certificate within 3 working days of the parent or young person informing them of their decision not to pursue mediation.
Where a parent or young person decides to engage in mediation (not solely relating to health care provision) the LA should arrange for mediation within 30 days of being informed. Once mediation has taken place a Mediation Certificate should be issued by the mediation adviser within 3 working days.
This Mediation Certificate will enable the parent or young person to lodge their appeal with the SEND Tribunal.
Our expertise in SENDIST appeals
Our specialist Education Law solicitors have supported many individuals and families with SEND Tribunal appeals over the years, with a strong track record of success.
We understand the legal framework and case law applicable in determining SEND appeals and use this knowledge to build a strong case based on good detailed expert evidence. This allows us to give you the best chance of a positive outcome when you decide to pursue an appeal. Having considered your evidence we will also advise if we consider that you do not have a strong case to argue for an EHC needs assessment, an EHC Plan, an enhanced package of support in mainstream or placement in a specialist school.
Our focus is on treating each client as an individual, understanding your unique needs and what we can do to help you achieve those objectives. Communication is a key strength and we will make sure we listen carefully to you, and explain all your options clearly, so you are always confident that the decisions you make reflect the best interests of your child.