Special Education Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST)
Who can appeal to the SEN Tribunal?
Parents and legally agreed carers can appeal on behalf of a child or young person under school leaving age.
Young people over school leaving age can make an appeal to the Tribunal directly about their EHC plan. They can also ask a family member or friend to help them with their appeal. A family member or friend is called an advocate in a Tribunal process.
If a young person over school leaving age does not have the mental capacity to make an appeal themselves, then someone acting on the young person’s behalf can make an appeal.
What can I make an appeal about?
You can appeal to the SEND Tribunal against the following decisions by a local authority or health service:
- not to carry out an EHC Needs Assessment or Re-assessment
- that it is not necessary to issue an EHC plan following an assessment
- the description of a child or young person’s SEN specified in an EHC plan and the special educational provision specified
- the school or other institution or type of school or other institution (such as a mainstream school/college) specified in the plan. Also, if a school or other institution is not named
- the health and social care needs and provision, including amendments to the needs and provision, specified in EHC plans, when also making an appeal about SEND issues
- not to amend an EHC plan following a review or re-assessment
- to cease to maintain (stop) an EHC plan.
If your appeal is only about a decision not to make an EHC Needs Assessment, you cannot appeal about health or social care issues.
What powers does the SEND Tribunal have?
The SEND Tribunal can make decisions about:
- whether a local authority must carry out an EHC Needs Assessment or Re-assessment
- whether a local authority must issue a plan after carrying out an EHC Needs Assessment
- the description of a child or young person's SEN that a Local Authority must include in their EHC plan
- the SEN provision (support) that a Local Authority must include in a child or young person's EHC plan
- where a child or young person must receive their education - what school or other institution they should go to
- whether a Local Authority can cease (stop) an EHC plan
Where a Tribunal makes a decision about one of these issues, the Local Authority must follow that decision.
The Tribunal can make recommendations on health and social care matters. In these cases, the local authority or health service is generally expected to follow the recommendation. It does not have to follow the recommendation though. If a service decides not to follow a Tribunal recommendation, it must write to you and the Department for Education to explain its decision.
Being able to look at all of a child or young person's needs together allows the Tribunal to take a person-centred approach to their needs.
More information and advice
More information on Tribunals is available from the independent Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS). They can provide free, impartial advice about the law on SEN, local SEN arrangements and support including information about starting and managing SEN Tribunal appeals. In some cases they may be able to help in Tribunal hearings.
GOV.UK Tribunal website – This includes advice on making SEND appeals to the Tribunal and links to the appeal form.
The Tribunal has issued a series of videos which explain the Tribunal process.