Appeal or make a complaint
Before you appeal or make a complaint
Before you make a formal appeal or complaint it is important that you have talked through your problems with us as it may be that there is a simple solution that will make everyone happy.
To find out how to contact our SEND services go to the Contact us page
If you have a complaint about Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in the Local Authority you can contact us by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 01472 323236.
Department for Education guidance
A guide for young people on how to resolve special education needs and disability (SEND) disagreements is available to read on GOV.UK.
Where agreements cannot be reached by those involved in decisions about a child or young person it is important to come to an early resolution.
Disagreement resolution services
Use of the disagreement resolution services is voluntary and has to be with the agreement of all parties.
The service in North East Lincolnshire is provided by Community Accord, who are independent of the local authority.
These services are available to parents and young people to resolve disagreements about any aspect of SEN provision, and health and social care disagreements during the processes related to Education Health and Care (EHC) needs assessments and EHC plans.
The resolution service helps to resolve four types of disagreements:
- Between parents or young people and local authorities, the governing bodies of maintained schools and maintained nursery schools, early years providers, further education institutions or the proprietors of academies (including free schools). It focuses on how they are carrying out their education, health and care duties for children and young people with SEN, whether they have EHC plans or not.
- Disagreements between parents or young people and early years providers, schools or post-16 institutions about the special educational provision made for a child or young person, whether they have EHC plans or not.
- Disagreements between parents or young people and Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) or local authorities about health or social care provision during EHC needs assessments, while EHC plans are being drawn up, reviewed or when children or young people are being reassessed. Disagreement resolution services can also be used to resolve disagreements over special educational provision throughout assessments, the drawing up of EHC plans, while waiting for Tribunal appeals and at review or during re-assessments.
- Disagreements between local authorities and health commissioning bodies. These disagreements do not involve parents and young people.
A decision by parents and young people not to use disagreement resolution services has no effect on their right to appeal to the Tribunal.
Disagreement resolution meetings are confidential and without prejudice to the Tribunal process and the Tribunal will disregard any offers or comments made during them.
Go to the Community Accord website for more information about Disagreement resolution and Mediation sessions.
If parents or young people want it to, mediation can take place following decisions by a local authority:
- to not to carry out an EHC needs assessment
- to not to draw up an EHC plan
- after they receive a final EHC plan or amended plan
- following a decision not to amend an EHC plan
- following a decision to cease to maintain an EHC plan
The mediation arrangements are specifically linked to decisions about EHC needs assessments and plans.
Mediation on matters which can be appealed to the Tribunal
Parent carers and young people who wish to make an appeal to the Tribunal may do so only after they have contacted an independent mediation adviser as discussed whether mediation might be a suitable way of resolving the disagreement.
If you want to appeal only about the school or other institution named in the EHC plan you do not have to contact a mediation adviser.
Single Route of Redress – SEND Tribunal Extended Powers
What is the outcome of the National Trial?
The National Trial commenced from April 2018 to August 2021 testing the extended powers for the SEND Tribunal. The department commissioned an independent evaluation of the National Trial which found broadly positive evidence in support of the Tribunal’s extended powers.
Read the SEND tribunal: national trial independent evaluation July 2021 (publishing.service.gov.uk).
Therefore, the Government has confirmed that they are continuing the extended powers of the First-tier Tribunal (SEND), sometimes referred to as the ‘SEND Tribunal’, to make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.
Previously, you have only been able to appeal the educational aspects of EHC plans. The continuation of the extended powers given to the SEND Tribunal, maintains your right to request recommendations about the health and social care needs and provision specified in EHC plans, in addition to the educational aspects, when making a SEND appeal. This gives you the opportunity to raise all your concerns about an EHC plan in one place.
It is only possible for the Tribunal to consider the health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan where you are already making an appeal in relation to the education aspects of the EHC plan and the education aspect must remain live throughout the appeal.
What does this mean for parents and young people?
If you are unhappy with a decision not to issue an EHC plan, or with the special educational content or placement in the plan, you can make an appeal to the SEND Tribunal. You are also able to request recommendations about the health and social care content of the plan at the same time, provided there is also an education element. This will mean the Tribunal will take a more holistic, person-centred view of the needs of the child or young person.
This does not prevent you also complaining about other aspects of your disagreement through other complaint procedures. You should seek advice about the different routes available, including from your local Information Advice and Support Service (IASS).
If the SEND Tribunal makes a recommendation about health or social care elements of an EHC plan, this is non-binding. The local authority and/or health commissioner is generally expected to follow such recommendations, but they are not legally binding. Where they are not followed, the reasons for not following them must be explained and set-out in writing to you and to the Department for Education through the evaluators. If they are not followed, you can complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) or Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) or seek to have the decision judicially reviewed. Further information on the roles of these bodies can be found on their websites.
When can a parent or young person request recommendations about the health and social care elements of an EHC plan?
You can request the Tribunal makes recommendations about the health and/or social care aspects of EHC plans as part of an appeal relating to:
- the description of the child/young person’s special educational needs in an EHC plan
- the special educational provision specified in an EHC plan
- the school or other educational institution named in an EHC plan
- a decision by the local authority not to issue an EHC plan
- a decision by the local authority not to carry out a re-assessment for a child/young person who has an EHC plan
- a decision by the local authority not to amend an EHC plan following a review or re-assessment
- a decision by the local authority to cease to maintain an EHC plan
What does this mean for local areas?
The SEND Tribunal extended powers places responsibility on local authority SEND teams to:
- Inform parents and young people of their new rights through decision letters and the local offer
- Provide evidence to the Tribunal from the health and social care bodies in response to any issues raised within the timeframe set by the Tribunal, seeking permission to bring additional witnesses to the hearing as necessary
It also places responsibility on health and social care commissioners to:
- Respond to any request for information and evidence within the timeframe set by the Tribunal
- Send a witness to attend the hearing as required
- Respond to the parent/young person and the LA SEND team within 5 weeks of a recommendation being made, setting out the steps they have decided to take or giving reasons why they are not going to follow the recommendation.
How can a parent or young person request a health or social care recommendation?
If you wish to appeal against a local authority decision on any of the grounds above and want to request that the Tribunal considers your concerns about the health and /or social care aspects of the EHC plan, you should follow the process for bringing an appeal to the Tribunal and tick the box on the form relating to a health and/or social care appeal. Advice on making SEND appeals to the Tribunal and the appeal form is available on the GOV.UK website and further guidance can be found in the toolkit of support.
As a parent or young person, do I have to consider mediation?
Before you can register an appeal with the Tribunal, you must contact a mediation adviser within two months of the LA decision you wish to appeal and consider whether mediation might be a way to resolve your disagreement with the LA. If you want to appeal only about the school or other institution named in the EHC plan you do not have to contact a mediation adviser.
You can go to mediation about the health and social care elements of an EHC plan, but this is not compulsory. You can request recommendations about health and social care issues without having to receive mediation advice or attend mediation about those issues, provided there is also an education issue about which you are appealing.
Once a mediation adviser has been contacted, or once you have taken part in mediation, you will be issued with a certificate. This will be necessary if you are still unhappy and wish to progress to an appeal with the Tribunal. An appeal to the Tribunal must usually be made within two months of the decision about which the appeal is being made or one month following the issuing of the mediation certificate, whichever is the later.
If mediation resolves the educational issues, you will not be able to appeal to the Tribunal on any health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan. However, mediation provides an opportunity for us to resolve disagreements and it can be completed more quickly than an appeal. It does not affect your right to make an educational appeal, and some aspects of the disagreement can go to appeal even when other aspects are resolved.
Help and further information
- A guidance document on the Single Route of Redress is published as part of a toolkit of support
- SEND Tribunal National Trial Page
North East Lincolnshire Council’s website has more information to help you make an appeal.
If your child didn’t get a place at the school you wanted there is a standard appeals process.
If your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), you cannot appeal through this process and procedures and deadlines are different. Parents/carers should contact the SEN Assessment and Review Team on (01472) 323166 or for more advice please contact SENDIASS.
If you decide to appeal there are some basic steps to follow:
- Accept the place you have been given and go on the waiting lists for the other school you would like.
- Download the appeals form from the Local Authority School admission appeal page.
- State your reasons for appeal clearly and concisely.
- SENDIASS can support you with template letters to help you compose your appeal.
- See the Ace Education website for ideas on what to include.
- ‘Submit the appeals form, by the due deadlines, to the admissions authority- details are on the appeals form’.
- If you don’t receive confirmation that your appeal has been received follow up with the school or Local Authority.
This information on school admission appeals can also be found on the SEND Local Offer ‘Appeal or make a complaint‘ page.