What happens if I am unhappy with a decision made by the local authority?

If you want to challenge a decision, please click any of the following links to find out more about the options available to you:

Challenging decisions about support for children with SEND

Most disagreements about special educational provision can be sorted out by talking with the education setting, professionals who work with the child or the local authority.

If you need any help with this you can contact the Birmingham SENDIASS service which offers impartial information and advice to parents/carers and young people

It can sometimes be difficult to reach agreement so local authorities must make arrangements for both disagreement resolution and mediation services. These services are available to children with SEND and their parents or carers. The services are free and confidential and are independent of the local authority and Clinical Commissioning Group.

Disagreement resolution and mediation

If you’re not happy about the support your child or young person with SEND receives, you can challenge it.

You can sort out most issues by talking to:

  • your child’s school
  • your child’s setting
  • your local council

If you still can’t sort the issues, using disagreement resolution or mediation can help.

Mediators work with everyone involved to try and sort the issue.

These services are:

  • voluntary and independent
  • free and confidential
  • quick and informal

Both parents and young people (over 16 years old) with SEND can use these services.

These sessions can help with issues about:

  • how a school, setting or the local council are carrying out their duties
  • what help a school or setting offers
  • health or social care provision

Health or social care provision includes what is given:

  • during an education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment
  • during a re-assessment
  • once the EHC plan is in place

You can use this service even if the child or young person doesn’t have an EHC plan.

The mediation service is for when you have concerns about an EHC plan.

You can use it when there has been a decision:

  • not to carry out an EHC needs assessment
  • not to carry out an EHC needs re-assessment
  • not to draw up an EHC plan after an assessment
  • not to amend an EHC plan after an annual review or re-assessment
  • to cease an EHC plan

Mediation also helps with issues around:

  • the parts of the EHC plan that describe the child or young person’s SEN
  • the provision set out in the EHC plan

Mediation takes place within 30 days and at a time and place that works for you.

Useful sources for mediation

SEN Mediator

Prime Resolution


Appeal to the SEND Tribunal

Parents and young people can also register an appeal about anything relating to EHC plans. These appeals go to the special educational needs and disability (SEND) tribunal. This is an independent, first-tier tribunal.

You have 2 months from a decision to register an appeal.

You must contact a mediator before registering an appeal (see above). They will provide information about mediation. You can choose whether you wish to use mediation or not. The mediator will give you a certificate. This shows that you have contacted them so you can register your appeal.

Sometimes you don’t need a certificate to register an appeal.

This is where the appeal is about you not being happy:

  • with the name of the school or setting on the EHC plan
  • with the type of school or setting
  • that no school or other institution is named
  • with the health and social care elements of the EHC plan

A booklet, ‘Special Educational Needs: How to Appeal’, can be obtained from the Tribunal and their contact details are as follows:

HM Courts & Tribunals Service
Special Educational Needs & Disability Tribunal
1st Floor, Darlington Magistrates’ Court
Parkgate, Darlington
Telephone: 01325 289 350
Email: sendistqueries@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk
Website: http://www.justice.gov.uk/tribunals/send