Appealing an EHC plan decision

You can formally appeal a local authority’s decision if:

The local authority’s paperwork will tell you what you need to do if you do not agree with their decision. If you cannot find the information, contact your local authority.

This usually starts with mediation. If mediation does not work, you can appeal to a Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) tribunal. The appeal is a legal process. You or a solicitor would need to build your case for a hearing. The local authority would do the same.

Appealing a decision (Ambitious about Autism)

Appeal an EHC plan decision (GOV.UK)

Appealing an EHC plan (IPSEA)

Check if you can get legal aid (GOV.UK)

SEND mediation

To start the formal appeals process, you will need to speak to a mediation adviser. If you do not have details about a mediation service with the EHC plan or decision letter, contact your local authority (GOV.UK).

Taking part in mediation

Mediation is a way to help you and the local authority SEN team resolve problems with the EHC plan outside of court. It gives you the opportunity to:

  • find out why the local authority made their decisions 
  • explain why you disagree 
  • agree on a compromise to avoid going through the tribunal process

Mediation is a free service and will not affect your right to appeal. The service is impartial and separate from the local authority. You do not have to take part in mediation if you feel it will not work. But you will still need to talk to a mediation adviser to get a certificate.

Mediation certificates

To continue with your appeal, you’ll need to get a certificate that will either say:

  • you’ve taken part in mediation with your local authority but cannot find a compromise 
  • you know your right to mediation but do not wish to take part in this

After you start a formal appeal, you can still reach an agreement with the local authority through additional mediation before your hearing.

Mediation (IPSEA)

Before you appeal (GOV.UK)

SEND tribunal

If you disagree with the local authority’s decision about:

  • your child’s needs
  • the provision 
  • the chosen placement

You will need to appeal to the SEND tribunal. 

How to do this should be in the paperwork with the decision letter.

Tribunal appeals (Contact, the charity for families of disabled children)

Appealing to the SEND tribunal (IPSEA)

Some parents like to talk to other parents with lived experience about the process. You might do this through Facebook groups, online communities or forums.

Talk to other parents in Scope’s online community

Who needs to be involved

The SENCO may be involved to support you or the local authority. 

You will need to get evidence to support your appeal. This could be:

  • information from people working with your child, like the SENCO, teachers, occupational therapist or GP 
  • reports from the final EHC plan or any EHCP annual reviews 
  • a second opinion, or if you can afford it, private assessments and reports

If you’re challenging a placement, like the chosen school, you might involve the SENCO from:

  • the school you want your child to attend 
  • the named school if they agree that they cannot meet your child’s needs 

The tribunal is a legal process. You can involve solicitors or represent yourself. Some solicitors specialise in the EHCP process.

Check if you can get legal aid (GOV.UK) 

Finding legal help

Representing yourself in court or tribunal

How to appeal

Download and fill in the SEND35 form (GOV.UK). You must send this within either:

  • 2 months of the date on your local authority’s decision letter 
  • 1 month from the mediation certificate’s date

Whichever date is later will be the deadline.

How to submit an appeal (IPSEA)

Which parts I can appeal (IPSEA)

What happens at the hearing (GOV.UK)

Managing stress

The tribunal process can be stressful and difficult. Everything will be about your child and their condition or needs.

It’s important to have support. This might be friends, family or even a neighbour.

If you can, try to take some time for yourself to do something you enjoy or relaxes you to give you a chance to recharge.  

Managing stress

Where to get help appealing

Find help online or speak to an expert for guidance. 

Call the IPSEA tribunal helpline.

Where to get help with making an appeal (IPSEA)

EHCP information sheets (SOSSEN)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 25/06/2019

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