Complaints, Schools Admissions and Assisted Travel
Complaints processes explained
School Admissions and Assisted Travel-School Transport - Appeals process explained
What if the Local Authority decides that an EHC Plan is not necessary and you disagree with this decision?
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).
SENDIST process explained – appeal an education, health and care (EHC) plan decision
Their contact details are:
HM Courts & Tribunals
SENDIST, 1st Floor Darlington Magistrates Court
Darlington, DL1 1RU.
Telephone Number 01325 289350
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
Website KIDS Mediation Service
4. SEND Tribunal Appeals (First-tier)
Below you will find 7 different video guides you can watch, that explain the SEND Tribunal process and how is responsible for handling appeals against local authority decisions regarding SEND, including a refusal to:
- assess a child or young person’s educational, health and care (EHC) needs
- reassess their EHC needs
- issue an EHC plan
- change what’s in a child or young person’s EHC plan
- maintain the EHC plan
What does this mean for parents and young people?
If you are unhappy with a decision not to issue an EHC plan, or with the special educational content or placement in the plan, you can make an appeal to the SEND Tribunal. You are also able to request recommendations about the health and social care content of the plan at the same time, provided there is also an education element. 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 your local Information Advice and Support Service (IASS).
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.
How can a parent or young person request a health or social care recommendation?
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 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 and the appeal form is available on the GOV.UK website
As a parent or young person, do I have to consider mediation?
Before you can register an appeal with the Tribunal, you must contact a mediation adviser within two months of the LA decision you wish to appeal and consider whether mediation might be a way to resolve your disagreement with the LA. If you want to appeal only about the school or other institution named in the EHC plan you do not have to contact a mediation adviser.
You can go to mediation about the health and social care elements of an EHC plan, but this is not compulsory. You can request recommendations about health and social care issues without having to receive mediation advice or attend mediation about those issues, provided there is also an education issue about which you are appealing.
Once a mediation adviser has been contacted, or once you have taken part in mediation, you will be issued with a certificate. This will be necessary if you are still unhappy and wish to progress to an appeal with the Tribunal. An appeal to the Tribunal must usually be made within two months of the decision about which the appeal is being made or one month following the issuing of the mediation certificate, whichever is the later.
If mediation resolves the educational issues, you will not be able to appeal to the Tribunal on any health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan. However, mediation provides an opportunity for us to resolve disagreements and it can be completed more quickly than an appeal. It does not affect your right to make an educational appeal, and some aspects of the disagreement can go to appeal even when other aspects are resolved.
Help and further information
SEND Tribunal video guides
Welcome Chapter 1
Hearings Chapter 4
Who’s who Chapter 2
What is a tribunal like Chapter 5
Appeals Chapter 3
FAQs Chapter 6