About Special Educational Needs Tribunals
Disagreeing with a decision
You may not always agree with a decision your child’s early years setting, school or college has made about your child’s support. You should first raise this with them and try to reach an agreement. If you can’t reach an agreement, they can advise you on their procedures for making complaints.
If you disagree with a decision related the Education Health and Care plan process or the support provided as a result of a plan, you should initially raise this with the local authority. In particular, this includes:
- their decision to not carry out an Education Health and Care assessment
- their decision to not create an Education Health and Care plan
- the Special Educational support in the Education Health and Care plan
- the school named in the Education Health and Care plan
- you believe that a school or Local Authority has discriminated against your disabled child.
If the complaint can't be resolved directly, we may offer mediation - a voluntary and free process where a trained, independent mediator will work with you to attempt to resolve your disagreement with the local authority. In North Somerset, this service is provided by Global Mediation.
The SEND Tribunal
If you cannot resolve the issue via mediation, you may consider an application to the SEND Tribunal. This is a legal body which hears appeals against decisions made by local authorities about Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessments and EHC plans. You can appeal to the Tribunal if the local authority decides:
- not to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assessment for your child
- not to draw up an EHC plan for your child, once they have done an assessment
- not to amend your child’s EHC plan after the annual review or re-assessment
- to cease to maintain your child’s EHC plan
You can also appeal if you disagree with what your local authority includes in your child’s EHC plan such as:
- how they describe your child’s SEN
- what SEN provision is included for your child
The SEND Tribunal also hears disability discrimination claims against schools (and against local authorities if the local authority is responsible for the school).
You could be entitled to legal aid to pay for a meeting with a solicitor.
There are also local and national organisations which can help you consider if an appeal to the tribunal is appropriate, and how to prepare for an appeal.
Single Route of Redress – National Trial
What is the National Trial?
The Government are extending the powers of the First-tier Tribunal (SEND), sometimes referred to as the ‘SEND Tribunal’, to make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans as part of a two-year trial. The trial will apply to decisions made or EHC plans issued/amended from 3 April 2018.
The Government have also produced some useful video's about the SEND tribunal process.