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How to appeal to SENTW
Under the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice, as a parent you have a right to be clear on how your child will receive SEN support, and how their school will review the progress being made in your child’s education and development. If your Local Authority has refused to grant a Statutory Assessment, or they have decided not to provide a Statement of Special Educational Needs, or you disagree with the named school, or the provision made in the Statement or Note in Lieu, then you can make an appeal through the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales (SENTW).
SENTW is an independent panel set up by the Welsh Government. Its job is to investigate the decisions made by Local Authorities which parents object to.
How can I appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales?
An appeal has to be brought within two months of the date of the decision issued by the Local Authority. Unless exceptional circumstances exist, a time extension will not be granted, although if you are referred to or use a Disagreement Resolution Service before the two month limit has expired, it may be you will receive an extension. Whilst it is not a requirement to go through Disagreement Resolution before making an appeal, it is worth noting that many disputes are resolved at this stage, often saving time and stress.
Parents and children themselves are able to use the appeals service. The process starts with the completion of an Appeal Application which must be sent to SENTW either by post or email. If sending by email, you will need to electronically sign the form. You can download the SENTW appeal application form here.
When can I appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales?
SENTW deals with appeals relating to special educational needs together with claims of disability discrimination at school.
The Tribunal can deal with the following:
- Refusal to make a Statutory Assessment
- Refusal to make a Statement of Special Educational Needs
- Content of a Statement of Special Educational Needs
- The school named in a Statement of Special Educational Needs
- Refusal to change a Statement of Special Educational Needs after an Annual Review
- Changes made to a Statement of Special Educational Needs following an Annual Review
- Decision to cease to maintain a Statement of Special Educational Needs
Are there any issues that SENTW cannot deal with?
If the Local Authority decides not to amend the Statement after an annual review, you will not be able to make an appeal. Neither will you be able to appeal against the way the Local Authority has conducted an assessment, nor against the length of time taken to do so.
If you are not satisfied with how the school or Local Authority is meeting the provision set out in your child’s statement, or their School Action or School Action Plus needs, again you cannot appeal, and neither can you appeal against any aspect of your child’s non-educational needs provision.
What can I do if I want to complain about something that is not covered by the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales?
In some circumstances areas that are not covered by the Tribunal can be resolved through the Court using what is known as Judicial Review proceedings.
If you are contemplating bringing a Judicial Review action against the Local Authority for a failure to comply with the statement, or for some other failure, for example to amend a statement already in existence, it is essential that legal advice is taken before embarking upon such a procedure.
There is a three month time limit in which Judicial Review proceedings must be commenced.
What happens at a Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales?
If the Tribunal agrees with your appeal then it will go ahead and make an Order, which could be to carry out an assessment or a reassessment; to prepare a Statement of Special Educational Needs; to amend a statement; to continue a statement; to change the named school or to cease to maintain a statement.
The Tribunal is formed of two parts: its members and the secretariat. They work together although they do different jobs. The Tribunal members hear the applications and make decisions on them, and the secretariat has the responsibility of managing the administrative duties.
How long does a Special Educational Needs appeal take?
The entire process, starting from lodging the appeal through to the hearing and decision, takes around four to five months, although it could be longer if the circumstances are particularly complex.
How can HCB Solicitors help with my appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales?
The dedicated team of special education solicitors at HCB has been representing parents at SENTW appeals for many years. Our proven record of success is well known throughout Wales. We work closely with families to understand their objectives and individual situations and needs before helping them put a robust case together for their appeal. Our core focus is always on achieving the very best outcome possible for your child. If you are unhappy with a Local Authority decision to not undertake a Statutory Assessment or provide a Statement of SEN, or are dissatisfied with the way in which your Local Authority is approaching the important educational needs for your child, we can help. Get in touch today and one of our experts will talk you through the first steps to making an appeal.
If you are appealing to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal for Wales, or planning an appeal, our specialist education law solicitors are here to help.