The First-Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability), or the SEND Tribunal, is an independent national tribunal which hears parents' and young people's appeals against Local Authority (LA) decisions about the special educational needs of children and young people. It also hears claims of disability discrimination against schools. You can appeal to the SEND Tribunal if you are unhappy with a decision made in relation to an EHC needs assessment or EHC plan.
Sounds daunting, sounds expensive, however, there are no fees for parents or young people to pay, whatever the result. You do of course have the option of paying for representation or for someone to prepare your case (Legal Aid aid can help with the preparation if you are eligible), but many families go at it alone and many are successful.
The tribunal staff cannot give you legal advice, but they can support you with what you need to do and how you should do it. You may also like to read our post on What Can I Expect at Tribunal.
As mentioned earlier in this post, you can apply for legal help through the legal aid system should you be eligible and you can check if you qualify on the Government web site. This type of support covers preparing a case, but not having a representative with you in the tribunal. Be reassured that most parents and carers do not have a legal representative at their appeals (and are still very successful).
You and your main witnesses (up to 3 in Special Educational Needs cases and up to 5 in disability discrimination cases) are able to claim expenses from the court including:
- Travel expenses for yourself, your child and anyone you being to look after your child
- Standard class rail fares
- Bus or tram fares
- Mileage (23.8 pence a mile at the time of writing this post - September 2021) if you travel by car
You are not however able to claim for:
- Any expenses on behalf of your representative
- Any expenses for observers or people who are not involved in the hearing
- Parking your car
- Toll costs
- Food and drinks
- Loss of earnings