The outcome of national trial

The national trial started in April 2018 and ended in August 2021 testing the extended powers for the special educational needs and disability (SEND) tribunal. The department commissioned an independent evaluation of the national trial which found positive evidence to support the tribunals extended powers.

The government has confirmed that they are continuing to extend the powers for the First-tier Tribunal (SEND) sometimes referred to as the SEND Tribunal. The tribunal can make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care aspects of education, health and care (EHC) plans.

Previously, you have only been able to appeal educational aspects of EHC plans. The continuation of extended powers given by the SEND Tribunal gives you new rights to request recommendations to health and social care needs. You can also request provisions specified in EHC plans as well as educational aspects when making a SEND appeal. You can raise all concerns about an EHC plan in one place. 

The tribunal will only consider the health or social care aspects of an EHC plan when you are already making an appeal about education. The education aspect must remain live throughout the appeal. 

Appealing a decision

If you are unhappy with the decision not to issue an EHC plan, placement in a plan or with special educational content you can make an appeal to the SEND Tribunal. You can also request recommendations about the health and social care content of the plan at the same time. The tribunal will take a more person-centred view of the needs of the child or young person. 

You're still able to complain about other aspects of your disagreement through the complaint's procedure. You can find advice about the different routes available at your local Information Advice and Support Service (IASS).

If the tribunal makes a recommendation about health or social care elements of an EHC plan, this is not binding. The local council and health commissioner are generally expected to follow recommendation, but they are not legally binding. Reasons for not following them will be explained and set out 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) or Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) or have the decision judicially reviewed. 

Requesting recommendations about health and social care elements

You can request the tribunal makes recommendations about the health and social care aspects of EHC plans as part of an appeal relating to: 

  • the description of the child or young person's special education needs in an EHC plan
  • the special education provision specified in an EHC plan
  • the school or other institution named in an EHC plan
  • a decision by the local council not to issue an EHC plan
  • a decision by the local council not to carry out a re-assessment of an EHC plan 
  • a decision by the local council to not amend an EHC plan after a review or re-assessment
  • a decision by the local council to stop maintaining an EHC plan.