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The Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan

What if you don't agree with the Council on the EHC Plan

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

Should the Local Authority (LA) decide not to issue an EHC Plan for your child or young person, the LA will notify you in writing within 10 weeks of the start of the EHC Needs Assessment process. Under these circumstances, you can consider mediation and register an appeal with the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal.

You will also be provided with information for a mediation service called Global Mediation and this is the pathway to formal mediation and a requirement to obtain a mediation certificate which would form part of your appeal.

Mediation contact details and information can be found here

SEND Tribunal contact details and information can be found here.

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

Local Resolution

Should you have any concerns about the LA’s decision, we would recommend that you talk to a member of the SEND team, or Sutton’s Information, Advice and Support Service (SIASS) which is independent of the council and provides impartial advice. Both teams can work with you to address any concerns that you may have, and to reach a satisfactory resolution for all parties. 

  • SEND Team
    • Email: sen.team@cognus.org.uk
    • Phone: 020 8323 0453 / 020 8323 0454
  • SIASS
    • Email: siass@cognus.org.uk
    • Phone: 020 8323 0462

SEND Tribunal can now look at health and social care concerns too

If you have concerns about the education sections of an EHC Plan or about a LA decision to not issue an EHC Plan, you can go to the Tribunal and ask for these concerns to be addressed. For these cases, you will now also be able to ask the Tribunal to look at the health and social care sections of the EHC Plan as long as the LA decision happened on or after 3 April or the plan was issued or amended from 3 April.

You still need an education complaint to go to Tribunal

One important thing to understand is that you cannot go to a SEND Tribunal if you do not have an education complaint – a health or social care complaint without a special educational concern does not enable you to use the SEND Tribunal which must be “triggered” by a special educational concern.  More information on what is included in a special educational concern, and how to appeal, is set out on GOV.UK.

This gives families a “one stop shop” (or single route of redress) where they can seek redress for concerns in an EHC Plan.

Previously, the Tribunal had no powers over the health and social care aspects of a plan. Now, all elements of a plan can be reviewed in one place as long as there is an education concern.

The Tribunal can make “non-binding” recommendations about health and social care provision 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, you can still take your case to the relevant ombudsman (for social care or for health) and / or judicial review as you can now.

This is a two-year national trial

The government are trialling this new process for two years. At the end of the period, they will assess how well it has worked and make a decision on what happens next. 

IFF Research will be contacting parents/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.

More information can be found at:

  • Your local Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS) – IASS can provide free, impartial advice about the law on SEND, local SEND arrangements and support, the trial and your rights.  It can provide support with managing appeals, including support with preparing cases and attendance at hearings.

  • GOV.UK – This includes advice on making SEND appeals to the Tribunal and links to the appeal form.
  • National trial toolkit – Key information and resources will be shared as the trial progresses, including a frequently asked questions and answers sheet.