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SEND right to appeal


Throughout any decision making progress the SEND team will work closely with you and will be happy to meet with you if you would find this useful, to explain the stages of the decision making process, and why decisions have been made.

There may be times where we are not able to agree with what you are asking for, and through meeting with you to explain the reasons for this, generally we can reach agreement on how to proceed.

If this is not possible there are some options available to you and more information about these are provided below.

Mediation and dispute resolution

What is mediation and dispute resolution?

Mediation and dispute resolution are processes used to settle disagreements that arise between parents and the Local Authority / schools / Academies / Further Education institutions / NHS about the special educational needs (SEN) of children and young people, and how best to meet these needs whether they are education, health or social care needs.

How does mediation work?

Mediation is an informal, voluntary process which involves an independent facilitator (the mediator) who helps those in dispute to reach agreements that are acceptable to all parties. The mediator is impartial, does not take sides, nor gives suggestions or possible solutions to the dispute.

The mediator is there to help to facilitate discussions and to make sure everyone is treated fairly. The mediator is in control of the process but not of the outcome of the mediation. It is the parties themselves that find solutions and decide the outcome through participating in the mediation process.

How do I access it?

Independent and confidential mediation service for London Borough of Hillingdon residents is available from Kids. For information on how you can seek information, advice and guidance please contact Kids mediation service.

If you decide to request formal mediation, the mediation adviser from Kids will inform your local authority who must meet you within 30 days. When the mediation has finished the mediation adviser must issue a certificate within three working days. You will need this certificate to register an appeal to the SEND Tribunal if your mediation has not reached a solution you are happy with.

A guide for young people

A guide has been produced for young people aged 16 to 25 about who to talk to if they are not happy with the help they are getting for their special educational needs or disability at school or college.  


How to appeal

Where agreement cannot be reached through mediation, you can appeal the local authority decision to the First-Tier Tribunal, Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). Parents and young people who wish to register an appeal to the Tribunal may only do so after they have contacted an independent mediation adviser and discussed whether mediation might be a suitable way of resolving the disagreement. Appeals must be lodged within two months of the date of the decision, or within one month of a mediation meeting.

What is the SEND Tribunal Service?

The SEND Tribunal is a legal body. It hears appeals against decisions made by local authorities about EHC needs assessments and EHC plans (such as a mainstream school/college) specified in the plan or that no school or other institution is specified.

  • An amendment to these elements of the EHC plan
  • A decision by 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

Who can appeal?

Parents/carers, in relation to children aged from birth up to the end of compulsory schooling age, and young people over the compulsory school age, until they reach age 25, can appeal to the Tribunal about the EHC assessments and EHC plans, following contact with a mediation adviser.

Young people can register an appeal in their name but can also have their parents help and support if needed. (Young people over the compulsory school age making an appeal to the Tribunal may require a mental capacity assessment.)

What can I appeal against?

Parents/ carers and young people can appeal to the Tribunal regarding:

  • a decision by the local authority not to carry out an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment or re-assessment
  • a decision by the local authority that it is not necessary to issue an EHC Plan following an assessment
  • the description of the child or young person's SEN specified in an EHC plan (Section B), the special educational provision specified (Section F), the school or other institution

How do I register my appeal?

To register your appeal you must supply a copy of the decision that you are appealing against and the date when the LBH made their decision, or the date of the mediation. You are also required to give reasons why you are appealing and complete this tribunal application form

Register your appeal with:

HM Courts & Tribunal Service

Special Educational Needs and Disability

1st floor, Darlington Magistrates Court




Telephone: 01325 289350


Things to be aware of

  • You can appeal to the Tribunal when the EHC Plan is initially finalised, following an amendment of the Plan, or when no changes are made to an EHC Plan following an annual review.
  • Appeals must be registered with the Tribunal within two months of local authority sending a notice to you of the decision about one of the matters that can be appealed to the tribunal or within one month of a certificate being issued following mediation or you have been given mediation information.
  • The right to appeal a refusal of an EHC assessment will be triggered only where the local authority has not carried out an assessment in the previous six months.
  • Where you are appealing about a decision to cease to maintain the EHC plan, the local authority has to maintain the plan until the Tribunal decision is made.

Note: The SEND tribunal does not hear appeals about Personal Budgets but will hear appeals about the special educational provision to which Personal Budget may apply.

Single Route of Redress

The Government are carrying out a trial where the powers of the First-tier Tribunal (SEND) would be extended so that it can make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans as part of a special educational appeal. The trial applies to local authority decisions made and plans issued / amended from 3 April 2018 and will run for two years. Further information about this can be found on the SEND Pathfinder website

Disagreeing about other things

You can also go to mediation with your local authority or your local CCG about the social care and health parts of an EHC plan if you tell your local authority that you are unhappy with these parts of the plan.

Local authorities and others have arrangements in place if you disagree with decisions taken, or want to complain about other things such as:

  • health provision
  • social services provision
  • your local authority

You can also complain using the local authority, health and social care complaints procedures.

Last reviewed: 13/09/2018

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