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Appealing an EHC plan decision

You can formally appeal a local authority’s decision on your child’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) if:

  • your child is refused an assessment
  • the local authority does not to produce a EHC plan after assessment or reassessment
  • you are not happy with all or some of the EHC plan

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. Every local authority has a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice Service (SENDIAS) which can help with this.

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.

If your local authority is not following the process for your appeal, you could make a formal complaint. For example, if the local authority causes long delays.

How to appeal

Download and fill in the SEND35 form (GOV.UK).

How to submit an appeal (IPSEA)

Deadline for your appeal

You must send this within:

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

The later date will be the deadline.

Where to get help appealing

Find help online or speak to an expert for guidance.

Book an IPSEA tribunal helpline appointment.

Where to get help with making an appeal (IPSEA)

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

EHCP information sheets (SOSSEN)

IPSEA template letters

Your local authority will also have its own independent mediation service, sometimes called a SENDIAS.

SEND mediation

To start the formal 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.

Contact your local authority (GOV.UK)

Taking part in mediation

Mediation is a free service run by an impartial service separate from the local authority. It could help you resolve problems without going to court.

You do not have to take part in mediation if you feel it will not work. But you will still need to ask a mediation adviser about getting a certificate.

Mediation does not affect your right to appeal.

Mediation 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 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 more 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. Read the documents that come with your decision letter to find out how to do this. These documents are called the ‘legal bundle’.

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

Appealing to the SEND tribunal (IPSEA)

Some parents like to talk to other parents who have been through the process. You might do this through Facebook groups, online communities or forums.

Scope’s online community

Appeals and coronavirus

SEND Tribunals and appeals are continuing by post and by phone.

Updates on coronavirus, school closures and SEN provision (IPSEA)

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 free or affordable legal help (Citizens Advice)

Representing yourself in court or tribunal

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 and your child.

Managing your stress as a parent of a disabled child

Last reviewed by Scope on: 05/11/2021

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