Appealing the health and social care parts of an EHC plan


scales of justiceSEND tribunal is part of the court system. It hears cases which involve parents, carers and young people appealing against local authority special educational needs decisions.

From April 2018, the SEND tribunal was given powers to look at health and social care as well as education. This page tells you what these powers are and what they mean for you.

You can download a copy of this information – appealing the health and social care parts of an EHC plan (PDF 245 KB)

SEND tribunals can now look at health and social care

Before April 2018, if you disagreed with your local authority about the education parts of an EHC plan, you could go to tribunal and ask for this to be reviewed. But you couldn’t appeal the health or social care part. Now you can ask the tribunal to look at the health and social care parts of an EHC plan as well.

These changes should mean the tribunal will be able to take a more complete, person-centred view of the needs of your child.

You can appeal about the health part of the plan, or the social care part, or both together.

The government are trying this new process. At the end of this, in August 31st 2021, they will look at how well it worked and make recommendations about what happens next.

You still need an education appeal to go to SEND tribunal

To appeal the health or social care part of an EHC plan you must also appeal the education part of the plan. This means you can ask the tribunal to make recommendations about the health and/or social care parts of EHC plans as part of an appeal about:

  • the description of your child’s special educational needs
  • the special educational support (provision)
  • the school or other educational institution named
  • issuing or ending (ceasing to maintain) an EHC plan
  • a decision not to do a re-assessment for a child with an EHC plan
  • changing an EHC plan after a review or re-assessment

You need to think about mediation, but you don’t need to do it

Because you must appeal the education part of the EHC plan to ask for the health and/or social care part to be looked at, you will still need to contact a mediation adviser about the education part.

If you decide to go to a mediation meeting for the education parts of the plan you don’t need to do it for the health and/or social care parts.

If you go to a mediation meeting and it resolves the educational issues, you won’t be able to appeal to the tribunal about the health and/or social care parts of the EHC plan.

After you’ve talked to a mediation adviser or had a mediation meeting, you’ll be given a certificate. You’ll need this if you want to appeal. There are timescales for doing this.

Important to know

 If you want to appeal against the local authority’s decision about your child’s EHC plan and you want to ask them to look at your concerns about the health and/or social care parts too you must:

  1. Follow the normal process for appealing to the tribunal.
  2. Tick the box on the form about a health and/or social care appeal.

If you want more information about appealing, or need the forms to apply, go to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) website.

The tribunal can make “non-binding” recommendations about the health and social care support set out in an EHC plan

Judge's gavelStaff from health and social care organisations may be asked to give evidence and go to the tribunal hearing. The SEND tribunal can recommend that your child’s health and social care needs and the support in your child’s EHC plan are

  • made clearer or more detailed
  • changed
  • included if they are missing

A copy of the tribunal’s recommendations will be sent to health commissioners as well as the local authority social care service. These are the people who organise and deliver health and social care services. They must tell you whether they’re going to carry out any of the recommendations the tribunal makes.

The judgments that the SEND tribunal makes about health and social care are “non-binding”. This means that legally, health and social care organisations don’t have to follow the judge’s recommendations. But, even though they’re non-binding, the local authority and health care commissioners are expected to follow them. Because the recommendations come from a specialist tribunal, they can’t be turned down easily.

If a health or social care organisation decides not to follow a tribunal judgement, they must write to you and the local authority to explain why they aren’t. They must do this within five weeks. If this happens, you can still take your case to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) or Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) and/or judicial review. Contact us to find out more about this.

How to appeal

Before you can register any appeal, you must contact a mediation advisor. The only exception to this is if you’re appealing just the school or education setting named on the plan.

By talking to a mediation advisor, you can decide whether mediation could help you to sort out your disagreement about the EHC needs assessment or plan, without going to appeal. Mediation is independent of the local authority and free for you to use.

The Mediation Service is provided by Global Mediation and you can contact them on 0800 064 4488 or email: sen@globalmediation.co.uk.  After you’ve spoken to them, if you decide to use mediation, a mediation meeting will be set up between you and the local authority. If you decide not to use mediation, you’ll be given a certificate which will enable you to start your appeal.

To register an appeal, you must fill out a ‘Notice of Appeal’ form.

Or you can contact HM Courts and Tribunal Service for a form at: Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal, 1st Floor, Darlington Magistrates Court, Parkgate, Darlington DL1 1RU Tel: 01325 289350

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Page published November 2020 Page due for review August 2021