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All about the Tribunal Process

What is the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST)?

The SENDIST Tribunal is part of the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) under the Health, Education and Social Care Chamber. If a parent is appealing a decision made by the SENDIST Tribunal, they will appeal to the Upper Tier Tribunal (UTT).

How is an appeal panel constituted?

Panels at the FTT are usually made up of three members. However, there are an increasing number of cases heard by a panel of only two members. The panel will always have a legally qualified chair and other members will have experience in SEN and disability issues.

Panels at the UTT are made up of only one legally qualified member.


When can an appeal be made to the First Tier Tribunal?

All parents/guardians and young people have a right to appeal to the FTT in the following circumstances:

  • Against any amendments made to an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
  • Against a decision to cease to maintain an EHCP
  • Against a decision to conduct an EHC Needs Assessment
  • Against a decision refusing to issue an EHC Plan following an EHC Needs Assessment
  • Against disability discrimination from a school or local authority

If someone does not agree with a decision their Local Authority has made with regard to an EHC Needs Assessment, not issuing an EHC Plan or the contents of their child’s EHC Plan, they will appeal their decision to the SENDIST Tribunal.


Time Frame for Hearing an Appeal

The formal case management at Tribunal is stated to be as follows

Week 0

Appeal registered

Week 6

LA response and attendance form

Week 9

All further evidence

Week 12


As a Paralegal with several years’ experience in dealing with tribunal matters, I have never found that these deadlines have been met. Usually an oral hearing is listed for at least 6 months in the future. However, over recent months this time period has been longer. Hearings are currently listed a year in the future. Due to this, I encourage parents to seek legal advice and file their appeals as soon as possible in the hope the hearing will be listed as soon as possible.

If parents are appealing a refusal to complete an EHC Needs Assessment, then this is normally heard as a paper hearing. This is where the Judge and Panel review all paperwork and emails that have been sent in during the appeal period and issue a decision on the papers. However, you can request an oral hearing if you feel this is necessary.

If you would like more information with regard to an appeal you are thinking of lodging then please contact me on for a free chat.