What Happens at a SEND Tribunal?

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Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunals are designed to be as parent-friendly as possible, but they can still be really daunting and the process isn’t always straightforward depending on your child’s needs.

Before the pandemic, the Tribunal would be held at a venue within 2 hours of your home, to make it easier for you to attend. But since the outbreak of Covid-19, most SEND Tribunal hearings have moved online, which might be easier for you or present another challenge. Moving forward, the Tribunal have said that they hope to continue to offer online hearings in addition to face-to-face hearings.

We have represented many parents and people with SEND at virtual and in person hearings. Our Education Law specialists can give you advice where you need it or represent you through the entire process.

If you need help with any part of attending a SEND Tribunal hearing, get in touch today and we can tailor our services around your specific needs.

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What to Expect at a SEND Tribunal Hearing

Hearings at the SEND Tribunal will look different for everyone, depending on:

  • Which section of your child’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) you’re appealing
  • If you’re attending the hearing with representation or witnesses
  • If you’re attending an in person or virtual hearing

Other factors might also affect how the hearing goes, but our Education Lawyers can tailor their expert advice to you and your family. We can also represent you at the hearing if you'd like us to.

Representation at the Hearing

If you’re attending the hearing with representation or witnesses, you’ll need to fill in an attendance form to confirm who will be accompanying you. You can generally take up to 3 witnesses with you.

The Local Authority will also fill out an attendance form with their representative and witnesses so you should know, in advance, who will be attending.

What Will Happen at the Hearing

The Tribunal will have 2 or 3 people on a Panel which will include 1 legally qualified Judge and an expert on SEND related issues. The expert is not legally qualified. They are an expert in SEND and/or education. Their backgrounds are varied but they could be an Educational Psychologist, a Headteacher, or another professional.

Throughout the hearing, you can expect to be asked questions by:

  • The SEND Tribunal
  • The Local Authority’s representative
  • Your Education Lawyer, if you have chosen to be represented by one

You will also be given the opportunity to ask your own questions and you can give you evidence throughout the hearing.

How Long Does a SEND Tribunal Decision Take?

A written decision on your case should be sent to you within 10 working days of the hearing taking place. You will not receive a decision on the day of the hearing.

We know this can be a nerve-racking time, which is why we work hard to make sure parents feel they’ve done everything they can during the appeals process so you can feel more secure in the outcome of the hearing.

Showing Our Expertise

Our expert Education Law Team has been ranked as a Top Tier Firm in Legal 500 2022 guide and a Band 1 Firm in Chambers and Partners 2022 guide for in Education Law.

Here are some comments from researchers in Legal 500.

"The best education law team out there. They have real strength and depth."

"Knowledge of the law, pragmatic and realistic advice with the client’s interests at the heart of it; good client care; great outcomes."

"Reputation as one of the best firms for parent education work."

Chambers and Partners UK researchers said:

"We found the team to be at top of their field," one client remarks, adding: "They were able to offer specialist advice which got the work done quickly."

How Simpson Millar Can Help You

If you choose to be represented by one of our expert Education Lawyers:

  • We can advise you on what questions you might be asked and how to best answer them – you want to make sure you’re providing as much relevant evidence as you can
  • We have helped parents and children with SEND to win countless EHCP appeals, so we know what you need to say and do to make your chances of winning your appeal as likely as possible
  • Our expert knowledge of Education and SEN law and years of experience means we can put the best argument forward to get your child the support they need
  • Many of our Education Law Solicitors have experience in very complex SEND issues, so we can advise you in areas you may feel less confident
  • We can level the playing field so your Local Authority aren’t the only ones being represented by a Solicitor or Barrister
  • Your Education Lawyer will understand what is at stake and how emotionally taxing the appeals process can be for you, so we will always offer an objective view when fighting your corner

As the UK’s largest team of Education Law experts, we have specialists with all levels of experience. We are proud of our success rate and we will always offer a professional yet personal service to fight for your child’s needs.

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