SENDIST (Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal)
If you are unhappy with the outcome of an Educational, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment or the contents of an EHC Plan issued by your local authority, you may need to appeal to a Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST).
A SEND Tribunal can order the local authority to carry out a fresh EHC Needs Assessment, make a new EHC Plan or amend an existing EHC Plan. However, they can also dismiss your appeal if they feel there are not sufficient grounds for one.
Our expert SEND tribunal solicitors can review your case and help determine whether you are likely to have grounds for a SENDIST appeal. We can assist you in putting together the strongest possible case, and support and represent you during the tribunal process to give you the best chance of a fair outcome.
Speak to one of our SEND tribunal solicitors now by calling 0800 158 4147 or request a call back and a member of our team will be in touch promptly.
Who can apply to a SEND Tribunal?
Parents of pupils under compulsory school age and young people over compulsory school age have a statutory right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SEND Tribunal) about:
- A decision not to undertake an EHC Needs Assessment or Reassessment.
- A decision not to issue an EHC Plan.
- The description of a child or young person’s special education needs specified in an EHC Plan – Section B, the special educational provision specified – Section F, the name or type of school/institution specified or that no such placement is specified – Section I.
- An amendment to the above-mentioned parts of the EHC Plan.
- A decision not to amend an EHC Plan following a review or reassessment.
- A decision to cease to maintain an EHC Plan.
The Tribunal will not hear appeals about:
- Personal Budgets (but will hear appeals about the special educational provision to which a Personal Budget may apply).
- Save through the pilot project, the Tribunal cannot hear appeals about the health or social care provision set out in an EHC Plan; currently, it will only continue to hear appeals concerning the special educational needs, special educational provision and education placements specified in EHC Plans.
- The ‘Best Outcomes’ section of an EHCP.
The SENDIST appeals process
There is a 2-month deadline to lodge an appeal to a SEND Tribunal from the date an appealable decision is sent in writing by an LA to a parent/young person.
Parents or young people are required to provide sufficient grounds of appeal when setting out their case for a SEND Tribunal. You will need robust, comprehensive and up to date evidence to support your position or your appeal could be rejected.
Appeals are usually listed for hearing 12 weeks following registration of the appeal and are, now in the main, heard by a panel of two; a Tribunal judge and a specialist lay member. In exceptional circumstances, either a party or a SEND Judge can request a three-person panel.
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, however, that before you will be able to register an appeal to a SEND Tribunal, you now need to prove that you have at least considered mediation as an option to resolve the issue first.
Mediation for Special Educational Needs issues
When a parent or young person wishes to appeal to a SEND Tribunal about an EHC Needs Assessment or EHC Plan, they will usually first need to consider mediation.
This does not mean you have to use mediation to resolve the issue if you feel it is not appropriate, but you will need to get a mediation certificate issued by a mediation adviser to show that you have considered the option.
The only exceptions, where you do not need to consider mediation are when the appeal concerns:
- The school/placement named in the EHC Plan
- The type of school/placement named in the EHC Plan
- The fact that the EHC Plan does not name a school/placement.
In all other cases, the parents or young person will first need to contact a mediation adviser (the LA should give details) within the 2-month appeal deadline.
When contacted by a parent or young person the mediation adviser must:
- Provide information on mediation
- Answer any questions the parent or young person may have
- Not seek to pressure the parent or young person into mediation – the decision is up to the parent or young person
Where the decision of the parent or young person is not to pursue mediation following contact with a mediation adviser, the adviser should issue a mediation certificate within 3 working days of the parent or young person informing them they do not wish to pursue mediation. This certificate will enable the parent or young person to lodge their appeal with the SEND Tribunal.
Our expertise in SENDIST appeals
Our Special Educational Needs solicitors have supported many individuals and families with SEND Tribunal appeals over the years, with a strong track record of success for our clients.
We understand what a SEND Tribunal looks for when deciding whether there are sufficient grounds for an appeal, as well as how to put together a case that effectively represent the best interests of children with special educational needs. This allows us to give you the best chance of a positive outcome when you decide to launch an appeal.
Our focus is on treating each client as an individual, understanding your unique needs and what we can do to help you meet those needs. Communication is one of our key strengths and we will make sure we listen carefully to you, then explain all of your options in plain English, so you are always confident that the decisions you make reflect the best interests of your child.
Get in touch with our SEND tribunal solicitors
For help with SENDIST appeals anywhere in the UK, please contact us today by calling 0800 158 4147 or request a call back and a member of our team will be in touch promptly.