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In the two reviews discussed in this module (Sophia and Marley), there is general
agreement about what should happen next for the child, but what would happen if there
was disagreement about whether a statement of SEN
should be issued or amended?
In the most serious cases, the parents may appeal to a tribunal. If a local authority
decides not to issue or amend a statement following a review, the Education Act 1996 (as amended by section 2 of the Children, Schools and Families Act 2010) establishes the right
of parents to appeal against this decision to a tribunal.
Such SEND tribunals
are intended to provide a 'convenient and effective' means of resolving the dispute
without the need to resort to a court of law.
A tribunal will make recommendations that are binding on the parties involved. Even
if its decision is no longer relevant for the claimant (for example, a child's needs
have changed since the appeal started), its recommendations can stand as a binding
duty on an education authority for the benefit of the wider pupil population (for
example, a school may be required to install a lift for wheelchair access). SEND tribunals also hear
Refusals to assess or reassess a child;
Refusals to make a statement;
The contents of a statement;
Parents wanting their child to go to a different school;
Decisions to cease to maintain a statement; and
Decisions not to amend a statement following a review.
Disputes over statements of SEN
are first-tier tribunals. Any appeals against their rulings go to an upper tribunal.
Such appeals must be based upon a point of law, rather than just a refusal to accept
the SEND tribunal's
decision. For example, the challenge may relate to a misinterpretation of a child's
circumstances by the tribunal panel.
Tribunals provide the appeal route for parents of children with SEN and disabilities, but can be a time-consuming process,
during which children may not receive the educational provision that is most appropriate
to their needs
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