What can I appeal at the SEND Tribunal?

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 LA decisions about the special educational needs of children and young people. It also hears claims of disability discrimination against schools and more recently, it can now make recommendations with regards to the health and social care aspects of an EHC Plan, providing the appeal has an educational element to it.


You can appeal to the SEND Tribunal if you’re unhappy with a decision made in relation to an EHC needs assessment or an EHC plan. There are no fees for parents or young people to pay. The SEND Tribunal has the power to order LAs to carry out EHC needs assessments, issue EHC plans, and amend existing EHC plans. LAs must comply with orders made by the SEND Tribunal.

Appeals can be made about:

  • A refusal to assess (carry out an EHC Needs Assessment)
  • A refusal to issue an EHC Plan
  • A decision not to amend an EHC Plan following a review or re-assessment
  • A decision to cease to maintain an EHC Plan
  • Section B of an EHC Plan (the child's Special Educational Needs)
  • Section F of an EHC Plan (the Special Educational Provision to meet those needs)
  • Section I of an EHC Plan (school or other setting)
  • No school or setting is named in Section I of an EHC Plan
  • Recommendations can now be made by the tribunal in all appeals, except for refusal to assess decisions
  • Disability discrimination cases

All appeals will require you to consider mediation first, unless your appeal is against section I only of an EHC Plan for a Disability Discrimination claim.

The SEND Tribunal is governed by the law, and has to follow the interpretation of that law by higher courts in judgments about previous SEN disputes. The SEND Tribunal must have regard to the SEN and Disability Code of Practice which advises schools and LAs on identifying and making provision for children with SEN. The SEND Tribunal is not bound to follow the Code to the letter but it generally accepts the Code’s guidance in coming to its decisions. 

The SEND Tribunal looks at the evidence put before it and decides whether the LA decision followed the law and the Code. It will make a decision based on what is right for the child or young person at the date of the hearing. 

The SEND Tribunal produces a free booklet, How to Appeal, and other guidance forms which can all be accessed on their website. The SEND Tribunal have also produced a set of videos which explain more about what appealing to the SEND Tribunal is like – these are available on YouTube


Resources: IPSEA