When Local Authorities make certain decisions about the education and/or training of a child or young person with SEN, there is a right of appeal to an independent Tribunal – The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal, known as “SEND”. If the decision concerns a child, it is the parent who has the right of appeal. If the decision concerns a young person, then it is the young person who has the right of appeal.
All SEN appeals registered after 1st August 2016 will now have a 12 week timetable (instead of the previous 20 week one). Appeals about disability discrimination will continue to have longer timetables.
The timetable for your appeal will be set out in the Tribunal's registration letter and directions. You should read these very carefully and note the important dates as it is still possible that some appeals might be listed on a slightly different timetable depending on the availability of Judges and Panel members.
If the matter is urgent, or you would like your case to be listed in less than 12 weeks, you can ask for that to happen. The Tribunal has introduced an 'Earlier Hearing Date' form which you could use to ask for this. If you do want to ask for a shorter timetable it will be helpful to let the Local Authority know that you are doing so, and try to see if they will also agree to the appeal being dealt with more quickly.
Before bringing an appeal to SEND, consideration of mediation must come first. This does not mean that mediation is compulsory, but it must be considered. The exception is an appeal about the school/college placement or where no school/college is named.
A decision that is challengeable by bringing a case to SEND could potentially be eligible for legal aid. The type of help available is known as “legal help”. A parent or young person with a right of appeal eligible for this will receive support from a solicitor to prepare the case and may also be able to obtain funding for any additional evidence needed such as reports from independent experts. It will not include advocacy support at a hearing. To check if you may be entitled to legal aid, check the civil legal advice website https://www.gov.uk/civil-legal-advice
There are a set of You tube clips which outline the whole process and will probably answer most of your questions however if you need local support feel free to contact the Information Advice and Support Service 0300 303 2000 or the Independent Support Service 0330 6600 925 both are free and confidential.