1. The decision letter
The Local Authority should send you a covering letter with the Final EHCP that sets out your right of appeal to the SEND (Special Educational Needs & Disability) Tribunal. This letter should inform you of the following:
- Your right of appeal to SEND & the timescale for appeal
- How to contact the mediation service
2. Timescales & mediation
The decision letter should explain that you must contact the mediation service and it should provide their contact details.
Mediation must be considered but you do not have to mediate; at this stage in the process, parents often feel they have exhausted most communication with the Local Authority and that mediation would not further assist any agreement. But the letter you receive should provide details about mediation and that the option is available.
Whether you agree to mediate or not, a mediation certificate must be obtained. This should be sent to you within 3 working days of contacting the mediation service.
If you have chosen not to mediate, the certificate will simply state this, and it does not ‘look bad’ if you choose not to mediate!
The decision letter should also set out the timescales for your appeal. You must appeal within 2 months of the date of the decision letter or within 30 days of the date of the mediation certificate. Whichever date is the latest and do not miss this date!
3. SEND appeal form
In order to lodge your appeal, you must complete the SEND 35 form, which is available on the government website. You will need your mediation certificate before you can complete this form.
You will need to provide your details, the details of the final EHCP and the sections of the EHCP that you wish to appeal.
You will be asked to provide reasons for your appeal, and we advise you provide as much detail and supporting evidence as you can at this stage.
Whilst there will be further opportunity to provide information once the appeal is lodged, the timescales are short, and it is beneficial to have your ‘case’ as prepared as possible before you lodge the appeal. If this isn’t possible then provide as much as you can and don’t miss that deadline.
4. Supporting evidence & submitting the appeal
You will need to give reasons for your appeal and explain why you disagree with the Local Authority’s decisions about the contents of the EHC Plan; what you think needs to change and supporting reasons and evidence. Depending on the sections of the final EHCP that you disagree with, supporting evidence could include:
- Evidence of your child’s attainment or rather, lack of progress. You could provide examples of work, school reports, attainment results
- Any relevant correspondence with professionals working with your child
- Independent experts reports that you can obtain such as Independent Educational Psychologist, Speech and Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist
- Refer to any relevant legal issues regarding the Local Authority’s decision; are they acting unlawfully, not having due regard to the statutory guidance
If you are appealing against the school named in the EHC Plan, then you will need to provide evidence about why the Local Authority’s school cannot meet your child’s needs and evidence about the school you want to be named.
Once your appeal is ready to submit, then do so either by email (you will receive a confirmation email) or by post (make sure you have it signed for upon receipt). Keep a copy of everything you send.
It will then take approx.10 working days for the SEND Tribunal to register your appeal. Once registered they will notify you in writing and set out the next stages and relevant deadlines. You should expect the appeal hearing date to be approx. 12 weeks from the date your appeal was registered.
Our specialist team can provide advice throughout each step of the appeal process. Contact us for further information…..