SEND Tribunal Update

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SEND Tribunal Update

View profile for Emma Thompson, nee Grimbly
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The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal

This Tribunal hears appeals about EHC needs assessments and EHC Plans as well as claims of disability discrimination. The number of appeals is on the rise; between 2018 and 2019 the Tribunal has seen 6400 appeals registered in England. There are currently 1708 live tribunal cases, with that number set to increase to above 2000 with appeals dealing with transfer to secondary school. The Tribunal has seen a 53% increase in cases being lodged! Currently, many appeals are being rescheduled. When lodging an appeal, you need to specify at this point if there are any priority issues within your child’s needs or immediate family needs. Priority is for cases whereby it is imperative a tribunal decision is made promptly, it is not for cases, whereby, you simply want a faster decision. 

If you are lodging your own appeal, there are some key points to be mindful of as noted by the Tribunals Service:

  1. When emailing the tribunal use 
  2. The maximum an email can contain is 14 Mb
  3. When sending multiple emails, ensure the subject heading is the same as previous
  4. Do not simply attach documents but explain in the email exactly what you are attaching and a brief overview for instance - a request for changes
  5. Ensure you say in the body of the email if it relates to a previously logged/sent email stating time/date of the original email

Once an appeal is registered, the Local Authority can change its position and agree with your appeal; this is when the Local Authority concedes. If the Local Authority concedes or an agreement reached within 5 working days of the scheduled tribunal hearing date, the hearing will still go ahead and the assumption is you will all have to turn up i.e. representatives, local authority and yourselves as parents. If there is going to be any agreement, then this needs to be achieved at least five working days before the scheduled hearing date.

There are often times when a paper hearing could be appropriate; this is when all of the evidence is submitted but nobody attends a hearing. The decision is based on the papers – the evidence filed by both parents and the Local Authority. Appeals against a decision to refuse to carry out an EHC needs assessment are carried out on the papers only and there may be scope for other appeals to be dealt with only on the papers.