To initially lodge your appeal, you will need to have a mediation certificate (from Global Mediation services). You will therefore need to contact Global within two months from the date of the LA’s decision. You then have 2 months from the date of the LA’s decision or one month from the date of the mediation certificate, whichever is the later. This means, if you time it right, you can have up to just under 3 months from the date of the LA’s decision to submit your appeal with the tribunal.
Some people will want to get the appeal submitted as early as possible and then send more evidence at a later stage. Others will want to take time to prepare it all in one go. There is no right or wrong way and depends very much on your individual circumstances. However, if you do leave it, or submit evidence later it is imperative that you keep track of the submission dates so as not to miss your deadlines (and of course this delays the potential EHC needs assessment being agreed, if the judge rules in your favour).
Once the SEND Tribunal has received the appeal, they should notify you within approx. 10-14 working days to say that it has been received and that everything is in order (or they will tell you what is missing / incorrect). Their response will also include any advice on how to make changes, submit extra evidence etc as well as all the important dates including:
- When the LA is required to respond to your appeal,
- The deadline for sending further information and
- The date that the SEND Tribunal will be considering your case and making a decision.
At the same time, the SEND Tribunal also writes to the LA, sending them a copy of your appeal and the documents. The LA should respond to the tribunal within 30 days, stating whether they oppose your appeal (disagree) and why, or that they agree with the evidence and will therefore start an EHC needs assessment. They must also send you a copy of its response at the same time, so do notify the SEND Tribunal if you do not get this response within the 30 days or by the date stated on the acceptance letter.
You do not have to send all the evidence with your appeal form and mediation certificate, but you will need to make sure that any evidence you didn’t send in with your appeal form gets to the SEND Tribunal by the deadline given in your acceptance letter- and you must always send a copy to the LA at the same time.
At least 10 working days before your appeal is considered, the LA should send you and the SEND Tribunal the trial ‘bundle’. This is a page-numbered, set of the documents containing yours and the LA’s evidence as well as the required appeal form, certificate etc etc.