SEN Appeals / Transitions

From 1st September, children with statements of special educational needs (SEN), Learning Difficulties Assessments and those with Education Health and Care (EHC) plans issued before 1st September 2014 will start the transition to the new SEN framework introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014.    All pupils with statements should have completed this process by 1st April 2018; all pupils with Learning Difficulties Assessments should have done so by 1st September 2016.   In the interim period, statements will remain in in force until the transition has been completed.


The logical approach to drafting a statement of special educational needs or the educational parts of the EHC plan is to ensure that the document appropriately sets out the child’s special educational needs, makes provision to meet those needs and then records a school which can meet those needs by delivering the provision identified.


Parents have the right to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) if they disagree with their local authority’s decisions about their child’s special educational needs when they make a statement of their special educational needs/EHC plan, amend the statement following a review or refuse to amend the statement/plan following an annual review.


The First Tier Tribunal will continue to deal with appeals under the Education Act 1996 and the 2001 SEN Code of Practice and will also deal with appeals under the new regulations and Children and Families Act 2014.


Whether an appeal is against the contents of a statement of special educational needs or the contents of an EHC plan, Local Authorities must amend the statements/EHC plans no later than 15 February in the year of phased transfer. This allows parents time to appeal to the First Tier Tribunal against the LEA’s decision, if they disagree and allows time for schools and the Local authority to plan the transition.


Appeals re phase transfers, namely appeals solely to do with the transfer of the child from one level of school to another (i.e. nursery to Primary and Primary to Secondary) are given a shorter, approximate12 week timescale from the date of the appeal to the appeal hearing.  Parents have 2 months to appeal and then the appeal may take approximately 12 weeks from when it is registered until  a decision is issued. It is therefore often advantageous to lodge an appeal shortly after the amendment of the statement rather than waiting until near the end of the 2 month period in which parents can appeal.


Appeals lodged in early April 2015 are unlikely to be dealt with much before the schools break up for the summer. This could limit the chance to make any plans for visiting the school and for transition before the school holidays and may delay the determination of the appropriate placement before the start of the new academic year.


Phil Storey

Bailey Wright & Co