Single route of redress trail
The national trial
The Government are extending the powers of the First-tier Tribunal (SEND), sometimes referred to as the 'SEND Tribunal'.
The SEND Tribunal can now make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care plans (EHC). The two year trial will apply to decisions made or EHC plans issued / amended from 3 April 2018.
The trial allows you to request recommendations about the health and social care needs and provision specified in EHC plans. This is in addition to the educational aspects, when making a SEND appeal. This gives you the opportunity to raise all your concerns about an EHC plan in one place.
It is only possible for the tribunal to consider the health and / or social care aspects of the EHC plan where you're already making an appeal in relation to the education aspects of the EHC plan. The education aspect must remain live throughout the appeal.
What this means for parents and young people
If you are unhappy with a decision not to issue an EHC plan, or with the special educational content or placement in the plan, you can make an appeal to the SEND Tribunal. This trial now gives you the opportunity to also request recommendations about the health and social care content of the plan at the same time. This will mean the tribunal will take a more holistic, person-centred view of the needs of the child or young person.
This does not prevent you also complaining about other aspects of your disagreement through other complaint procedures. You should seek advice about the different routes available. This includes your local Information Advice and Support Service (IASS).
If the SEND Tribunal makes a recommendation about health or social care elements of an EHC plan, this is non-binding. We, and/or the health commissioner, are generally expected to follow these recommendations. They are not legally binding.
If we don't follow them we must explain why in writing to you and the Department for Education through the evaluators.
If they are not followed, you can complain to:
- the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO)
- Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman(PHSO)
- seek to have the decision judicially reviewed.
Find further information on the roles of these bodies on their websites.
Recommendations about the health and social care elements of an EHC plan
You can request the tribunal makes recommendations about the health and/or social care aspects of EHC plans as part of an appeal relating to:
- the description of the child/young person's special educational needs in an EHC plan
- the special educational provision specified in an EHC plan
- the school or other educational institution named in an EHC plan
- a decision by us not to issue an EHC plan
- a decision by us not to carry out a re-assessment for a child/young person who has an EHC plan
- a decision by us not to amend an EHC plan following a review or re-assessment
- a decision by us to cease to maintain an EHC plan
What this mean for local areas
The trial places responsibility on local authority SEND teams to:
- inform parents and young people of their new rights through decision letters and the local offer
- provide evidence to the tribunal from the health and social care bodies in response to any issues raised within the time frame set by the tribunal. Seek permission to bring additional witnesses to the hearing as necessary
- send the health and social care response letters to the evaluators at SENDletters@IFFResearch.com if a recommendation has been made.
It also places responsibility on health and social care commissioners to:
- respond to any request for information and evidence within the timeframe set by the tribunal
- send a witness to attend the hearing as required
- respond to the parent/young person and our SEND team within five weeks of a recommendation being made, setting out the steps they have decided to take or giving reasons why they are not going to follow the recommendation.
How a parent or young person can request a health or social care recommendation
If you want to appeal against our decision on any of the grounds above and request that the tribunal considers your concerns about the health and /or social care aspects of the EHC plan, follow the normal process for bringing an appeal to the tribunal and tick the box on the form relating to a health and/or social care appeal.
Taking part in the evaluation
There will be an independent evaluation of the trial to inform a decision on whether the new tribunal recommendation powers should be continued after the trial. The evaluation will run alongside the trial, from January 2018 to March 2021.
It is important that the evaluation is based on robust evidence. Parents and young people are encouraged to participate. This could include taking part in a telephone or online interview just after the appeal hearing (or when the appeal process has been completed, if earlier). There will then be a follow-up interview six months later. These interviews will help the evaluators to gather the views of parents and young people on the appeal process. They will also identify how recommendations have been implemented and what the early impact has been.
Parents and young people taking part in the trial will receive more information about the evaluation and how their personal data will be stored and protected.
Mediation as part of the trial
Before you can register an appeal with the tribunal, you must contact a mediation adviser within two months of the decision you wish to appeal. We'll consider if mediation is the right way to resolve your disagreement with us. If you want to appeal only about the school or other institution named in the EHC plan you do not have to contact a mediation adviser.
You can go to mediation about the health and social care elements of an EHC plan, but this is not compulsory. You can request recommendations about health and social care issues without having to receive mediation advice or attend mediation. This is provided there is also an education issue about which you are appealing.
Once a mediation adviser has been contacted, or once you have taken part in mediation, you will be issued with a certificate. This will be necessary if you are still unhappy and wish to progress to an appeal with the tribunal. An appeal to the tribunal must usually be made within:
- two months of the decision about which the appeal is being made
- one month following the issuing of the mediation certificate, whichever is the later.
If mediation resolves the educational issues, you will not be able to appeal to the tribunal on any health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan. However, mediation provides an opportunity for us to resolve disagreements and it can be completed more quickly than an appeal. It does not affect your right to make an educational appeal, and some aspects of the disagreement can go to appeal even when other aspects are resolved.