Special Education Needs Tribunal – England and Wales

An independent body called the Special Education Needs Tribunal has been created. This totally independent tribunal body enables parents the right of appeal against any LEA decision in cases where the parents consider that their child is not receiving the level of education they rightfully deserve.

A parent can appeal to the Special Educational Needs SEN Tribunal in England or Wales for one of the following reasons:

  • The local authority refuse to complete a statutory assessment of their child’s SEN
  • The local authority completes a statutory assessment but refused to issue a statement of SEN (or issues a ‘note in lieu’ instead)
  • They disagree with the contents of the statement that has been drafted (such an appeal can be about Part 2 or Part 3 but is against both Parts)
  • They disagree with the school named in Part 4 of their child’s statement.
  • Any decision taken by the Local Authority to cease to maintain the Statement.
  • The local authority has refused to amend an existing statement of SEN further to an annual review (This appeal is ONLY available in England from 1st September 2010 due to the Children, Schools and Families Act 2010 which added s.328A into the Education Act 1996)

However, it is very important to bear in mind that any appeal must be brought within two months of the date of the decision and a time extension will not be permitted.

You cannot appeal to the tribunal if the LEA refuses to name an independent or non-maintained school if such a request is made within a year of a statement being issued. You also cannot appeal about the way the LEA carried out an assessment or the length of time taken or even about how the LEA is arranging to provide the help set out in the child’s statement. The Tribunal will also refuse to hear appeals about the way the school is meeting the child’s needs or about the contents of Part 5 and 6 of the LEA plans to meet those needs or even if the LEA will not amend the Statement after an Annual Review.

The tribunal in both England and Wales is a parent friendly process however it is based on law and evidence. The Triubunal will not allow a parent’s appeal to be successful based upon their opinion of their child’s SEN and the provision needed. Expert reports are needed to support specific requests.

Are you planning on appealing against an SEN decision?

Click here to download the appeal form.

Special Educational Needs Tribunal – why seek a specialist SEN legal expert?

The answer to this question is relatively simple. It is a legal process and more often than not the local authority will seek to defend the claim utilising the services of its own special educational needs expert solicitors. The local authority will have access to a team of SEN specialist experts , and the task to cross examine those experts or to seek to address key issues in your own evidence requires a level of expertise which only years of legal SEN experience can deliver. Sinclairslaw operates from London and Wales offices and has a team of highly specialist lawyers who will be able to provide excellent help to those in need. Call Sinclairslaw today or e mail us by using the contact form.

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