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First Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability)

You can appeal to this Tribunal (often referred to as the SEND Tribunal) if you disagree with the Local Authority’s decision about your child’s special educational needs.

For example if they refuse to:

  • assess or reassess your child or young person’s educational, health and care needs (note that these appeals will now be considered by the tribunal based only on the paperwork without you needing to attend a hearing unless you specifically request an oral hearing)
  • issue an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
  • you disagree with the contents of the plan with regard to special educational needs (Part B), provision (Part F), or the setting named in Part I (or if there is no setting named)
  • or if the Local Authority wishes to cease an EHCP and you disagree with this decision

For someone under 18 and in custody, you can appeal if:

  • the council doesn’t make an EHC needs assessment
  • the council doesn’t think an EHCP is needed after an assessment
  • the school or other institution that they’ll attend once they’re released isn’t suitable

You can also appeal to the tribunal if a school or local authority has discriminated against your child or young person or against someone else because of your child or young person’s disability.

Before registering an appeal you must show that you have considered mediation by contacting our mediation provider and either obtaining a certificate, or by attending a mediation session.  You do not need to do this if your appeal only concerns the setting named in Part I.

You must register your appeal within 2 months of the date of the council’s decision letter or 1 month from the date of the mediation certificate - whichever is later.

Your appeal should be heard within 12 weeks of your registration date.  You can also ask for it to be heard earlier than 12 weeks if it is an urgent matter.

The tribunal is independent of Government and will listen to both sides of the argument before making a decision.

Who can appeal?

  • a parent, if the child is under the age of 16
  • a young person, if you are over school leaving age and under 25

What help you can get?

Before you appeal to SEND Tribunal, try to discuss the problem with your Senior Case Officer in the SEN Team, Social Care or Health Provider (if they are involved), or School Head Teacher (if your dispute is regarding disability discrimination). You can request a meeting with senior members of staff to try to resolve disagreements at any stage of the process.

You do not need to have legal advice or formal representation in order to appeal to SEND Tribunal or attend a mediation meeting. The appeal process has been designed to be as accessible and informal as possible.

Check on the GOV.UK website to find out if you can get Legal Aid to help with any legal costs. If you are eligible, you can get advice from Civil Legal Advice.

You can also get free help and advice from Merton’s SEND Independent Advice and Support Service (MIAS) or from charities such as IPSEA.

Contact details

General enquiries
First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability),
1st Floor, Darlington Magistrates Court ,Parkgate, Darlington, DL1 1RU


Telephone: 01325 289 350


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