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The First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) (the “SEND Tribunal”) is an independent national tribunal which hears parents’ and young people’s appeals against LA decisions about the special educational needs of children and young people. It also hears claims of disability discrimination against schools.

You can appeal to the SEND Tribunal if you’re unhappy with a decision made in relation to an EHC needs assessment or an EHC plan.

You can bring an appeal to the SEND Tribunal if an LA:

  • Refuses to carry out an EHC needs assessment or a re-assessment.
  • Refuses to issue an EHC Plan.
  • Issues or amends an EHC Plan but you disagree with any or all of Section B (special educational needs), Section F (special educational provision) or Section I (placement).
  • Decides not to amend an EHC Plan after an annual review.
  • Decides to cease to maintain the EHC Plan at any point.

Note that, from April 2018, parents and young people will also have the right to appeal against the health and social care sections of the plan (Sections C, D, G and H).

Before bringing an appeal to the SEND Tribunal, you must consider mediation. This does not mean that mediation is compulsory, but it must be considered. The exception is if you are appealing only about the school or college placement, or where no school or college is named, and you are appealing about that fact.

The SEND Tribunal is governed by the law and has to follow the interpretation of that law by higher courts in judgments about previous SEN disputes. The SEND Tribunal must have regard to the SEN and Disability Code of Practice (the “Code”) which advises schools and LAs on identifying and making provision for children with SEN. The SEND Tribunal is not bound to follow the Code to the letter, but it generally accepts the Code’s guidance in coming to its decisions.

The SEND Tribunal looks at the evidence put before it and decides whether the LA decision followed the law and the Code. It will make a decision based on what is right for the child or young person at the date of the hearing.

The SEND Tribunal produces a free booklet, on how to appeal, and other guidance forms which can all be accessed on their website.

The SEND Tribunal have also produced a set of videos which explain more about what appealing to the SEND Tribunal is like.

These are available on YouTube or you can request a DVD from the SEND Tribunal.

You can request copies of the booklet, any of the other forms, and the DVD via:

SEND Tribunal helpline on 01325 289350

By emailing send@justice.gov.uk

Or writing to:

HMCTS – Special Educational Needs & Disability Tribunal
1st Floor
Darlington Magistrates Court