A Step-by-Step Guide to the EHCP Appeal Process

You may need to go through the EHCP appeal process to ensure that your child gets the educational support that they need. Of course, a child must be supported throughout education to give them every possible opportunity available.

Here, we explore some frequently asked questions regarding EHCPs:

  • What is an education health and care plan?
  • How can you appeal an EHCP?
  • How does EHCP legal advice help?

What is an education health and care plan (EHCP)?

If you or your child has special needs or requires further educational support, it’s important to apply for education health and care plan (EHCP). As part of the Children and Families Act 2014, an EHCP outlines in detail the support that a child will receive whilst at school or college to assist in their special needs learning. For instance, one hour of speech therapy a week.

Once an EHCP has been put in place and you are happy with it, the school or education provider has a legal duty to fulfil those actions; to ensure your child gets the additional support they need whilst in education.

An EHCP is available to those in education up until the age of 25. If your child is under 16, you can apply for an EHCP with your local authority as their parent or guardian. If you or your child are between 16 and 25, they can apply themselves. Or, if their needs mean that they can’t apply themselves, a parent or guardian can apply for them

If you believe that your child would benefit from an EHCP, get in contact with your local authority who will then complete an assessment on the child’s needs. You will then hear from your local authority within 16 weeks if an EHCP is to be created for your child. After the local authority receives the assessment request, they have 20 weeks to give you the final version of the EHCP. Between these dates, you’ll receive a draft ECHP which you can comment on.

The 5 step EHCP appeal process

If your EHCP application has been rejected or you aren’t happy with the details outlined in the EHCP, the below steps outlines how to appeal EHCP. An appeal will take the case to a Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) tribunal where an EHCP lawyer or SEN barrister will need to be present.

Step 1. Receive your decision letter from your local authority

Whether your local authority has decided not to conduct the initial assessment or if you don’t agree with the decisions made within the ECHP, the next steps to take should be outlined in your decision letter. The letter should include contacting a mediation advisor. If these steps aren’t outlined, or if you’re unsure on what to do next, get in contact with your local authority directly.

Step 2. Mediation Service

At no cost to you, your local authority will next suggest mediation. Mediation involves you and the local authority working together to resolve any issues within the EHCP away from a courtroom. A mediation advisor will talk you through each stage involved within mediation. After the mediation, you’ll get a mediation certificate to continue with the appeal.

You don’t have to go through mediation. However, if you still want to appeal EHCP, you will need a mediation certificate which you can get by contacting your local mediation service.

Step 3. Appeal through the Send35 form

After receiving your mediation certificate, you can register for an appeal by completing the required paperwork to go to a  Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) tribunal. To appeal to your local authority’s decision about an EHCP,  you need to complete the Gov.uk Send35 form.

The form contains twelve sections which include:

  1. Whom the appeal is regarding
  2. What your appeal is against
  3. Your reasonings for the appeal
  4. Health and/or social care recommendations
  5. Information on the appeal process
  6. Information on the person submitting the appeal
  7. Information on others involved in the appeal
  8. Special need requirements for the hearing
  9. Information on a paper hearing
  10. A checklist of other documents to send with the Send35 appeal form
  11. Your signature
  12. How to send the appeal

Step 4. Send off your appeal

Once the Send35 form is complete, you can email or post the form off. Keep in mind that the tribunal must receive your appeal within two months of your local authority’s decision letter, or you have one month from the date you receive your mediation certificate.

Step 5. Get EHCP legal advice

Following your appeal, there will be a first-tier SEND tribunal hearing at a location in a two-hour travel radius from your home. Before the tribunal, it’s time to find an EHCP lawyer or seek legal counsel from an experienced SEN barrister. An experienced SEN (special educational needs) barrister will be able to represent your case at the first-tier tribunal. If the initial appeal isn’t successful, an SEN barrister can take this further to the upper tribunal to make sure you get the EHCP your child deserves.

St Pauls Chambers have experienced SEN barristers who are eager to give EHCP legal advice and represent your case. We are the only chambers which can represent and offer advice on educational law cases in the North East. For more information on the SEN law we represent, or if you’re searching for an SEN barrister, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with St Pauls Chambers.

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