Preparing a SEND Tribunal Case: A Comprehensive Guide
Source: GOV.UK (Published on 15/09/2023)
In the UK, the process of preparing a SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) Tribunal case involves a series of meticulous steps that local authorities must undertake to ensure a fair and just hearing. This blog post offers a detailed summary of the guidance provided by the UK government on this matter.
Local Authority’s Response
Local authorities are required to furnish a comprehensive response within 6 weeks of an appeal being lodged. This response should encapsulate detailed and up-to-date information about the child including:
- Current educational attainments and end of Key Stage results
- Behavioural patterns at school and home
- Recent assessments by school or external agencies
- Details of the current educational or non-educational provision
- Travel arrangements to and from school
- A historical account of the child’s progress over time
- Details of successful and less effective arrangements for the child
- Relevant local policies and how they align with national policies
- Proposed school placement details including prospectus and Ofsted report
Local authorities should inform the tribunal about the witnesses they intend to bring, which should ideally include individuals who are well-acquainted with the child and the proposed school.
The preparation of the document bundle is a crucial step in the process. The bundle should be neutral in design, devoid of logos, and should encompass the following sections:
- Appeal Documents: Including the notice of appeal form, local authority response, and decision letter, among other documents.
- EHC Plan: Incorporating all appendices listed in section K of the plan, if applicable.
- Parents’ Evidence: Comprising letters, emails, witness statements, and reports, among others.
- Local Authority’s Evidence: Enveloping policies, written records, and school reports, to name a few.
Each section should be organized in date order, and every page, including blank ones, should be numbered. The bundle can be emailed to the tribunal, adhering to the specified attachment size limit.
A final agreed working document should be emailed to the tribunal at least 10 working days before the hearing. Any subsequent changes require the new version to be emailed to the tribunal and other parties involved.
In case of a rehearing following an Upper Tribunal appeal, all post-hearing documents must be included in this section.
Striking Out an Appeal
Local authorities have the provision to request the tribunal to ‘strike out’ an appeal under specific circumstances, using Form SEND7. This initiates a hearing where both parties can present their arguments.
This blog post is a summary of the detailed guidance available on the GOV.UK website. For a comprehensive understanding and to access various linked resources for further information, refer to the full guidance on the official website.