New figures from the Ministry of Justice have shown that there has been a big jump in the number of appeals registered at the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. Between April and June 2017, the number of Local Authority decisions appealed by parents increased by 29% compared to the same period in 2015.
There have been some positive changes; since August 2017 appeals which are registered are now processed under a shorter timescale of 12 weeks when was previously 22 weeks. This means that the initial appeal may need to be better prepared.
In addition, appeals against the refusal to assess are now dealt with without the need for a Tribunal hearing.
Beverley Watkins commented that she believes the number of appeals to the SEND will continue to increase because EHCP’s now cover an increased age range up to age 25 years, and LEA’s are now rushing to convert statements into Plans and many of the conversions are simply not good enough and therefore lead to appeals. In addition, LEA’s have increasingly limited resources and Plans continue to be issued which are obviously unlawful. Local Authorities are still getting it very wrong. EHCP need to be quantified and specified, it is not clear why there are still such significant problems with EHC Plans being vague and unlawful. Where such unlawful plans are issued parents have no option but to appeal.