Complaints, Disagreement Resolution and Appeals
This section provides information about the different processes that may be appropriate depending on your individual situation, this includes:
- First-tier Tribunal/Singe Route of Redress
- The boxes numbered 1-4 outline the process if the local authority decides that an EHC Plan is not necessary and you disagree with this decision
Complaints processes explained
School Admissions and Assisted Travel-School Transport - Appeals process explained
1. You can submit an appeal to SENDIST
Appeals can be submitted either within two months from the date of this letter or within one month of receiving the mediation certificate whichever is the later. You should submit your appeal to Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST).
Their contact details are:
HM Courts & Tribunals
SENDIST, 1st Floor Darlington Magistrates Court
Darlington, DL1 1RU.
Telephone Number 01325 289350
Email: [email protected]
2. You can contact Halton SENDIASS (SEND Partnership) for further advice
3a. You can request a mediation meeting
Mediation is a service for parents/carers whose children have SEND and who have been declined assessment or an EHC Plan or who have had a Plan ceased following review. It is a requirement for parents/carers to consider mediation before appealing to the Tribunal and they must discuss this with the mediation service. However, this does not apply if the appeal will only relate to the named school/setting in the Plan when parents can proceed straight to appeal.
‘KIDS’ is an organisation the Local Authority has commissioned to offer this service free to parents. The service gives you the support of an expert in resolving disputes and enables you to be fully involved in decisions that will affect your life and those closest to you.
See box 3b. KIDS Mediation Service below for more information and contact details
The mediator will be an independent and impartial person who has no involvement with the case or the outcome. The mediator will also have knowledge of special educational needs and will be trained in working with people to assist them in communicating and resolving disagreements.
If you decide to proceed with mediation, it should take place within 30 days.
If it is found that mediation cannot take place within 30 days, on a matter that can be appealed to Tribunal, then the mediator must issue a certificate within 3 days. You then have the option of appealing immediately or waiting for mediation to take place.
Agreeing or declining to participate in mediation does not affect your right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs Disability Tribunal (SENDIST).
If you do not wish to enter into mediation, it is still necessary to obtain a certificate from the mediation service if you wish to appeal.
3b. KIDS Mediation Services
Parents, carers and young people can use mediation to help resolve disagreements about Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessments and Plans, as well as other issues before making an appeal to the SEND Tribunal. Mediation is very successful and means you may not have to go to Tribunal. But if you are not happy with the outcome of mediation, you can still make an appeal to the Tribunal.
- All our work is free of charge. The service is for children and young people age 0 to 25 and their parents. Mediation is quick and informal and often helps resolve disagreements so that you do not have to go to Tribunal.
- We arrange Mediation and disagreement resolution between parents and the local authority, as well as the school or college. Health and Social Services can also be involved.
- Mediation meetings are usually face-to-face. The impartial mediator helps everybody prepare for the meeting and makes sure that everybody’s voice is heard. Mediation meetings take place somewhere near you and within 30 days of your request.
- At the end of the Mediation meeting, the mediator helps parties put their agreements in writing. The agreement is signed and a copy given to everybody. This forms a Contract between the parties.
Tel: 03330 062 835
Email: [email protected]
Website KIDS Mediation Service
4. First-tier Tribunal (SEND Tribunal) - Single Route of Redress 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 National Trial. The trial will apply to decisions made or EHC Plans issued/amended from 3 April 2018.
To date, you have only been able to appeal the educational aspects of EHC Plans. The trial gives you new rights to request recommendations about the health and social care needs and provision specified in EHC Plans, in addition to the educational aspects, when making a SEND appeal. This gives you the opportunity to raise all your concerns about an EHC Plan in one place.
This will mean the Tribunal will take a more holistic, person-centred view of the needs of the child or young person.
This does not prevent you also complaining about other aspects of your disagreement through other complaint procedures. You should seek advice about the different routes available, including from Halton SENDIASS (Information Advice and Support Service).
If the SEND Tribunal makes a recommendation about health or social care elements of an EHC Plan, this is non-binding. The local authority and/or health commissioner is generally expected to follow such recommendations, but they are not legally binding. Where they are not followed, the reasons for not following them must be explained and set-out in writing to you and to the Department for Education through the evaluators.
If they are not followed, you can complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) or Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) or seek to have the decision judicially reviewed. Further information on the roles of these bodies can be found on their websites.
It is only possible for the First-tier Tribunal to consider the health and/or social care aspects of the EHC Plan where you are already making an appeal in relation to the education aspects of the EHC Plan and the education aspect must remain live throughout the appeal.
You can ask the Tribunal to make non-binding recommendations on health and/or social care aspects of EHC Plans as part of an appeal relating to:
- a decision by the local authority not to issue an EHC Plan
- a decision by the local authority not to carry out a re-assessment for a child/young person who has an EHC Plan
- a decision by the local authority not to amend an EHC Plan following a review or re-assessment
- a decision by the local authority to cease to maintain an EHC Plan
- the description of the child/young person’s special educational needs in an EHC Plan
- the special educational provision specified in an EHC Plan
- the school or other educational institution named in an EHC Plan
If you wish to appeal against a local authority decision on any of the grounds above and want to request that the Tribunal considers your concerns about the health and/or social care aspects of the EHC Plan, you should follow the normal process for bringing an appeal to the Tribunal and tick the box on the form relating to a health and/or social care appeal.
- Advice on making SEND appeals to the Tribunal is available from www.GOV.UK
- Single Route of Redress National Trial Guidance and Toolkit
There will be an independent evaluation of the trial to inform a decision on whether the new tribunal recommendation powers should be continued after the trial. It is important that the evaluation is based on robust evidence, and the evaluators are therefore strongly encouraging participation from parents and young people through telephone or online interviews. Parents and young people that take part in the trial will receive a letter from the Tribunal explaining more about the evaluation and how their personal data will be stored confidentially and how it will be protected.