What if parents or carers and the Local Authority can't agree on an EHC Plan for a child or young person

If, after considering all the evidence and information provided through the EHC Needs Assessment, it is agreed that an EHC Plan is not required to meet the child or young person's needs, the first point of contact is the EHC Coordinator in the SEND team. However, independent and impartial advice and support can be obtained from Sutton's Information by the Advice and Support Service (SIASS). Both teams want to work with parents/carers to address any concerns and resolve issues. 



  • parents and carers can contact Sutton Independent Advice and Support Service if they have any queries or concerns about the decision 
  • SIASS can provide independent advice for parents on the options they have available

Email: Sutton@siass.co.uk
Phone: 020 8323 0462


  • Mediation can be a helpful first route of redress when a parent, carer or young person disagrees with the SEND panel’s decision
  • the contact information for Global Mediation will be at the bottom of the panel decision letter families receive from the local authority
  • Global Mediation works with parents, carers, young people and the Local Authority by facilitating a 'structured conversation' to discuss concerns and reach a mutually agreeable action plan wherever possible
  • Global Mediation is an impartial company that will appoint neutral mediators
  • participation in mediation does not take away the legal right to appeal to tribunal, and it stops the two months period in which families can appeal until the mediation has been concluded, after which families have an additional month to appeal the decision
  • families are not required to engage in mediation but parents who have used the mediation service are almost universally pleased with the outcomes
  • we would always encourage parents, carers and young people to take up the offer to mediate disagreements so that issues can be resolved positively and constructively within a relatively short timescale

Mediation contact details and information can be found here (external site).


  • the letter conveying the panel decision will include the legal right to appeal the decision to the SEND Tribunal, which should be exercised within 2 months of the date stated in the letter 
  • in order to submit an appeal, families are legally required to first “consider mediation” by calling Global Mediation and learning more about the process.
  • if a mutually agreed action plan cannot be reached through mediation, then families still have a legal right to appeal to the SEND Tribunal within 1 month of mediation. 
  • SIASS can support families both in attending mediation or in gathering evidence and submitting their appeals.

More information can be found at:

Local Information, Advice and Support Service (external site)

IASS can provide free, impartial advice about the law on SEND, local SEND arrangements and support, the national trial and parent/carers rights.  It can provide support with managing appeals, including support with preparing cases and attendance at hearings.

SEND Complaints

A guide for young people aged 16-25 in education on how to resolve educational needs and disability (SEND) disagreements (PDF 1.92MB)

SEND Tribunal contact details and information (external site)

This includes advice on making SEND appeals to the Tribunal and links to the appeal form.

Single Route to Redress National Trial

Learn about the extended powers of the First-tier Tribunal (SEND). 

If the issue is about the contents of an EHC Plan, although there must be a concern about the educational need or provision in the first place, it is currently possible to ask the Tribunal to look at the health and social care sections of the EHC Plan too (Sections C, D, G, H1 and H2).  This is as part of a pilot called the ‘Single Route to Redress National Trial’.

Download information about the Single Route to Redress National Trial (PDF 304.KB) 

However, a health or social care appeal without a special educational concern doesn’t enable parent/carers to use the SEND Tribunal. 

The DfE has also provided the following information:

The Tribunal can make “non-binding” recommendations about health and social care provisions in EHC Plans.  The judgements that the SEND Tribunal makes about health and social care elements of an EHC Plan are “non-binding”. This means that the law does not require health and social care commissioners to follow the judgements.

Although the judgements are non-binding, the LA and health care commissioners are expected to follow them and because they are recommendations from a specialist tribunal, they cannot be rejected lightly.

The health or social care commissioner must write to the family and the LA within five weeks to tell them if they are going to follow the recommendations or not.  If they are, then they need to explain the actions they are going to take. However, if they decide not to follow the tribunal judgement, they must explain why they are not following the tribunal’s recommendations. In these instances, parent/carers can still take their case to the relevant ombudsman (for social care or for health) and / or judicial review as you can now.

The government is trialling this new process for three years, until 31 August 2021. At the end of the period, they will assess how well it has worked and make a decision on what happens next.

Visit the Government website for information on the national trial to extend powers of the SEND tribunal (external site).

IFF Research will be contacting parent/carers/carers and young people who have been through the trial to find out about their experiences.  They will be gathering evidence to help the government make this decision.

13/10/2021, 12:50:42