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APPEALS TO SENDT

What types of Appeal are heard by the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal?

  • Refusal to assess (or reassess) a child or young person’s special educational needs – have you made a request for a statutory Assessment and been refused by your LA?  This decision can be reversed on Appeal and we can assist you with challenging the LA’s decision and holding them to account for not considering the evidence and/or not applying the relevant legislation.

 

  • Refusal to issue an EHC Plan after an EHC Needs Assessment* – has your Local Authority completed a statutory Assessment but refused to issue an EHC Plan?  This decision can be reversed on Appeal.  The legal test for issuing an EHC Plan revolves around the word ‘necessary’.  Case law has determined that the word ‘necessary’ means somewhere between ‘indispensable and useful’, it is a wide definition and determination will vary according to the facts of each case.  Are you paying for provision but the LA has disregarded this?  Independent provision cannot lawfully be disregarded and ignored by your Local Authority, it must be taken into account.

 

  • EHC Plan content (Sections B, F and I)* - are you unhappy with Sections B, F and I of your or your child’s EHC Plan?  Does Section B contain an inadequate description of need and/or is there insufficient provision in Section F to meet need?  Section F could be full of ambiguous terminology such as “access to” or “opportunities to” which makes it impossible to determine what level of provision is actually required.  Do you disagree with the placement named in Section I?  The SEND Tribunal can re-write all the Educational Sections B, F and I of an EHC Plan on Appeal.  The Local Authority’s legal duty is to specify ie. Section B should specify all of your or your child’s needs, provision should be specified in Section F for each and every need specified in Section B.  EHC Plans should be clear, concise, understandable and accessible to parents, children, young people, providers and practitioners (para 9.61 of the Code of Practice).

 

  • A decision not to amend following an Annual Review* - has your Local Authority conducted a statutory Annual Review but decided not to amend the EHC Plan when changes are actually required?  The LA’s decision can be reversed on Appeal. 

 

  • Ceasing to maintain an EHC Plan* - has your Local Authority decided to cease to maintain your, or your child’s, EHC Plan?  EHC Plans can last until a young person is 25 and Local Authorities must not cease to maintain the EHC Plan simply because a young person is 19 or over.  The Code of Practice makes it clear that Local Authorities must take account of whether the educational training outcomes specified in the EHC Plan have been achieved.  The LA’s decision can be reversed on Appeal. We can also secure the young person’s placement until the outcome of the SEND Tribunal Appeal rather than them having to leave their placement with nowhere to go.

 

  • Disability Discrimination Claims – it is unlawful for an education provider to treat a student with a disability less favourably than other non-disabled students.  The SEND Tribunal can also hear Disability Discrimination Claims, this is covered separately on our website under the heading Disability Discrimination.

 

*From 3rd April 2018, the SEND Tribunal’s jurisdiction has been extended to include a power to make recommendations in relation to the Health and Social Care Sections (ie. Sections C, D, G, H1 and H2) of an EHC Plan in the above Appeals (except in Refusal to Assess Appeals).  This National Trial will run for 2 years. 

 

Your Local Authority must advise you of your right of appeal in its decision letter.  The right of appeal lasts 2 months from the date of the Local Authority’s decision letter and it is important to seek advice as quickly as possible to prevent the right of appeal expiring.  We can help reverse a Local Authority’s decision on Appeal.  Parents often come to us, quite frustrated with their Local Authority, having spent weeks, months and in some cases years, trying to negotiate with their Local Authority, but not getting anywhere.  The SEND Tribunal generally sets a 12 week timetable from registration to Hearing, however, not every Appeal, results in a Hearing.  We take a considered approach to each and every Appeal and this often results in a successful outcome.  Our success rate of 96% (figure taken from 2017) is testament to the forensic approach we take to every case.