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Special Educational Needs: Tribunals

Question for Department for Education

UIN 139522, tabled on 14 March 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the Local Government Association's report entitled Agreeing to disagree? Research into arrangements for avoiding disagreements and resolving disputes in the SEND system in England, what assessment his Department has made of the implications for its policies of the finding that the aspiration to improve the experience of parents seeking support had not been achieved as a result of an increased level of cases that are not resolved without being taken to a tribunal; and what steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of parents and carers having to take cases to tribunal.

Answered on

22 March 2022

The increased levels in appeals to the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) Tribunal are likely to be a reflection of both the extension of appeal rights in the SEND reforms from 2014 to include young people aged 0 to 25 and the growth in the number of parents and young people seeking education, health and care plan (EHCP) needs assessments. For example, in 2020 alone, there was an increase of 11% in the number of new EHCPs issued.

Despite this increase, the vast majority of cases relating to EHCP needs assessments and plans are concluded without the need to resort to tribunal hearings. Nationally, in 2020, only 1.7% of all appealable decisions subsequently resulted in an appeal to the SEND Tribunal.

However, the government recognises that the current SEND system does not consistently deliver the outcomes we want and expect for children and young people with SEND, their families or the people and services who support them.

A key priority for the SEND Review is to look to ensure that children and young people with SEND get the EHCP support they need, identified early and delivered promptly, in education providers that are best suited to meet their needs. The government needs to improve outcomes and experiences within a financially sustainable system.

As part of the review, the government will look at what is needed to improve early intervention, make clearer the support and services everyone should be able to expect and have funding and accountability systems in place which support this. Accountability and redress mechanisms will always be there for families who need them and the SEND green paper will set out plans to strengthen and improve both. This will be published for full public consultation by the end of March.