Appeals against Placement (Section I)

In this guide we will look at how to appeal against Section I of an EHC plan. Sections I appeals are generally needed when the LA have named a placement that you or a young person disagree with. Whilst it is possible to appeal this section on it’s own, we would advise that you also include sections B & F in any appeal so that the EHC plan can be considered by the Tribunal in it’s entirety. For further information on appealing these sections please look at our other page Appealing the Contents of an EHCP.

Full is not a reason not to name

Can consider vs must consider

When can I appeal section I?

There are generally 2 occasions when you might consider an appeal against the content of the EHC plan, namely Section I.

1) After an EHC needs assessment has taken place and a final EHC plan has been issued

a)  You do not agree with the setting that has been named

b)  You do not agree with the type of setting that has been named

2) After an Annual Review or Reassessment.

a) The LA have refused to make changes (to section I)
b) LA have made amendments to the EHC plan and you disagree with what has been written.

Mediation

Unlike appealing other sections such as B&F, if you are only appealing Section I, you do not have to consider mediation and therefore do not need to obtain a mediation certificate. However, if you feel it could be helpful you are still entitled to request a mediation meeting. You would need to contact Global Mediation to discuss this within 2 months from the date on the letter from the LA refusing to amend the EHC plan or accompanying the Final or Amended Final.  

If you do decide to go to Mediation, this can be done instead of or prior to, going to appeal. It generally takes place quicker than a tribunal hearing (usually within 30 days of the request vs 20 + weeks for appeals) and will often be held nearer your home. It is facilitated by a trained mediator who is impartial and able to ensure that both voices are heard (yours and the LA’s).

Mediation about placement is often found not to be particularly beneficial as the decision making process used by the LA often involves a panel (due to the potential costs involved) and the LA representative will be reluctant to make these decisions on their own.

However, where it can be beneficial is when you want to have a conversation about why the decisions have been made the way they have, the various options available and for your concerns to be addressed. All with the help of a trained mediator.

Be specific in what your concerns are and back up these reasons by pointing to evidence where possible (see under ‘creating your appeal’ for ideas of supporting evidence). Provide copies of existing reports with highlighted sections to help you explain or clearly reference where you want the LA representative to look and why. Be open to alternative suggestions (especially in light of the length of time appeals are taking)

It is still unlikely that the local authority will agree to amend the plan but you should have a better understanding of the reasons why. You may decide that the alternative option is acceptable, or you may exercise your right to continue to appeal.

Going to Appeal

You may decide not to even attempt mediation, in which case you can go straight to appeal. Your appeal will need to reach the SEND Tribunal within 2 months from the date of the LA’s letter that accompanied the Final / Amended Final EHC plan or the decision letter not to amend.

You will need to complete a SEND35 form and send this to the SEND Tribunal (either by email or by post).

Whilst all the sections of an EHC Plan are important (please see our webpages for more information about what an EHC plan should contain), it is particularly important that sections B and F accurately reflect your child/young person’s Special Educational Needs and Provision, including any related health or care provision which educates or trains your child. This will almost certainly affect the Section I part of the appeal. If you feel that the EHC plan as it stands, does not fully reflect the need for the placement or placement type you are seeking, then include B&F in your appeal. (See our other page about appealing the other sections of the EHC plan). PS: Don’t forget you must consider mediation if appealing any other section than just Section I.

Writing your Appeal

How to complete the majority of the form is explained in Appeals against the Contents. Here we will look specifically at the section which addresses placement – section 2 of the form.

The first part of this section is about the decision you are appealing about. You need to place one tick in the appropriate box before the ‘and‘ and one tick in the appropriate box after (see highlighted choices).

The second part of this section is also straight forward. This is where you tell the Tribunal which school you wanted the LA to name instead (including it’s address).

The second to last box is asking for confirmation that you have contacted the school you prefer. You need to put the date that you contacted them specifically asking for a space for your child or young person so attend. You also need to include any response that you received (for example we are not able to meet needs, we are full, etc). Also include here if the school didn’t respond to your request.

The last box only needs to be completed if you are not able to name a particular school (for example if you cannot find one that can meet all the needs set out in the EHC plan). Here you can describe the type of school you would prefer.

What do i need to show in my evidence?

This will depend on the type of school…… is only one suitable to meet all the needs / does the named school make all the provision? If not…….

If both are suitable then it comes down to efficient use of resources.

Sources of evidence

You need to make it is as easy as possible for the tribunal to understand why you are asking for a specific placement or placement type and do not agree that the named placement or placement type is suitable to meet your child or young person’s needs. It is likely that you will need to find additional evidence to support a Section I appeal.

If you have not been able to obtain information from the school or you think the school still has other evidence that you have not seen, then you can request a copy of any data the school holds about your child (their school record as well as other data). This is through what is generally known as a SAR (Subject Access Request). You may be charged for photocopying so you could request to see the records first and then choose which ones to have photocopied.

You need to make it is as easy as possible for the tribunal to understand why you are asking for a specific placement or placement type and do not agree that the named placement or placement type is suitable to meet your child or young person’s needs. It is likely that you will need to find additional evidence to support a Section I appeal.

The following may help when looking at what evidence you have or will need.

The final EHC plan itself

Medical reports by a paediatrician, therapist or psychologist etc

Whilst it is unlikely that health professionals will know the type of education a child needs, they may be able to advise on

Documents provided by the current (or former) placement.

For example, a learning support plan, notes from a meeting, your child, young person’s or other people’s views

Annual Review

If you are appealing after an Annual Review, you may find some of the supporting evidence helps your case, especially if the current school agrees that they cannot meet your child or young person’s needs and have done all they can to make reasonable adjustments.

Ofsted Inspections

How to use the evidence

It is good practice to refer to specific parts of your evidence for the different points you are making. Rather than directing tribunal to the EP report, point them specifically to ‘page ** paragraph * of EP report dated **/**/**’.

It is helpful to underline the specific paragraph or section you refer to and it is better to underline than highlight. (Highlighting doesn’t always photocopy well). If you are underlining more than one section for different points, then make sure it is clear which refers to which.

Information about schools to Tribunal

Where the appeal is about the school named in an EHC plan or SEN statement, the tribunal will send the local authority separate guidance about the information it needs.

The local authority should tell the tribunal:

  • which school it proposes for the child
  • the type of school
  • how many pupils the school has now
  • how many pupils it can take
  • how many children at the school have SEND
  • how many children get support at the school for SEND
  • class sizes
  • teachers’ relevant qualifications and experience of SEND
  • whether the school teaches the full National Curriculum

The local authority should also tell the tribunal about how the school would meet the needs of the child, for example:

  • what support it proposes
  • the size of class and teaching groups that the child would join
  • how many adults will look after the child
  • what curriculum and educational programmes the school will deliver
  • what arrangements are in place for the parent and school to cooperate

The local authority should also tell the tribunal about how much the provision would cost.

A parent may want their child to be taught at:

  • an academy
  • a city technology college
  • a school maintained by another authority

In these cases, the local authority should represent the views of the academy, school or college and other authority in its response.

Opposing education in a mainstream school

If parents want their child to be taught in a mainstream school, the local authority can only oppose this if it thinks:

  • the placement is unsuitable for the child
  • it would affect the education of others
  • it would be an inefficient use of resources