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Special Educational Needs Tribunals (SENDIST)

What is a Special Educational Needs Tribunal?

The First Tier Tribunal for Special Educational Needs & Disability was set up by the Education Act 1993. It considers parents' appeals against the decisions of Local Authorities (LA's) about children's special educational needs if parents cannot reach agreement with the LA. The Tribunal is independent. The Lord Chancellor appoints the Tribunal Judges, and the Secretary of State for Education and Skills appoints the members. But the Government cannot influence the tribunal's decision, and the tribunal has no connection with any LA.

Where can I get information about Tribunals?

A guidance booklet ‘Special educational needs: how to appeal’ provides full information on when parents can appeal to the Tribunal Service and how to go about it. It explains clearly the decisions against which you can appeal, and about the whole appeal process.

Tribunals Click Here

Forms for Courts and Tribunals Click Here

What are the benefits of recruiting professional help to support one's case at a Tribunal?

Parents may find themselves in a situation where they may wish to employ an independent Educational Psychologist to support their case and to appear as an Expert Witness at the Tribunal Hearing.

In this context I offer a service that provides advocacy and professional support in review and tribunal environments for primary and secondary aged children. The representations I make on behalf of parents are based on a comprehensive, in-depth, diagnostic educational psychological assessment of a child’s strengths and weaknesses, and include recommendations for what I consider to be an optimal teaching and learning environment to maximise the pupil’s potential.

The combination of specialist expertise and professional independence places me in an advantageous position that allows me to put forward strong and persuasive arguments in favour of the client I am representing. I have a good track record of success in Tribunal hearings, and this is down to how well I can present a case that will positively influence the Tribunal’s decision in favour of my client.

Case Study 1

David, a 15 year old boy, in Year 10 at a local mixed comprehensive school, had been the subject of a Statement of Special Educational Needs that recognised him as having needs arising from his combination of Dyslexia and Dyspraxia, and that these needs could be adequately met in a mainstream secondary school.

Parents contested this decision, and proceeded to transfer him to an independent specialist school for Dyslexic pupils, following which they took the Local Authority to Tribunal, and sought my specialist input to support their position. After conducting a comprehensive, in-depth assessment of David’s needs, and carefully analysing the merits and demerits of the various schools that claimed to be able to meet his needs, I prepared a detailed report, presented this to the Tribunal, and attended a hearing at which I presented my findings.

The outcome of this particular Tribunal was that the decision made was in favour of my client, resulting in the Local Authority having to pay all of the costs, including retrospective fees and transportation, incurred in David attending the parents’ school of choice.

Case Study 2

Michael, a very able 7 yr old primary school pupil, was under-performing at school as a consequence of his severe dyslexia, diagnosed by an independent educational psychologist commissioned by his parents. The Local Education Authority, reluctant to use the term ‘dyslexia’ believed that his special educational needs were more to do with speech and language difficulties rather than specific literacy problems, and following formal assessment, a Statement of Special Educational Needs was issued that cited his needs as being grounded in his language difficulties.

My input commissioned by parents established, through detailed and comprehensive assessment, observation and consultation work, that this boy did indeed have severe dyslexia that was clearly undermining his capacity to perform academically at the level commensurate with his potential.

My arguments presented at the Tribunal hearing were sufficient to convince the panel that the current placement identified by the Local Authority as being entirely suitable for Michael was falling short of an acceptable level of educational opportunity for this boy. The outcome was a direction to the Local Authority to consider an alternative, more specialist school where this boy’s needs could be better met, a decision that vindicated the parents initial concerns about their son’s failure to thrive academically.

Dyslexia North : 4 Towers Avenue, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 3QE
Tel: 0191 2812636 Mob:- 07742 597208 Email: enquiries@dyslexianorth.co.uk