Working Document (for EHCP Content Appeals)

Taken from SEND 23

What is a ‘working document’?

A working document is a copy of the final statement, on which both parties have worked to show the changes to the wording that they want or can agree, as well as those issues which the Tribunal must decide on the day of the final hearing.

Who does what?

Usually, because the LA has prepared the final statement electronically, they prepare the first draft, after they have seen the Notice of Appeal. They then send it to the parents who can consider it and decide whether they agree with it. The parents can amend it to show the changes they are prepared to agree and to highlight those which are still not agreed before sending it back to the LA for further consideration.

What happens next?

No time is set aside for the parties to negotiate on the day of the hearing so the working document must be considered, prepared and distributed before this. The sooner the process starts the better. If at all possible, the LA should start the process when it submits its response to the appeal, and send to the parents a copy of the first working document with its response.

The working document is sent to the Tribunal in advance of the hearing so that they are aware of the detailed wording in dispute. Sometimes the options preferred by the two parties are brief and immediately clear to the reader. On other occasions the issues are more complex and/or lengthy and the working document may be confusing unless the document is carefully drafted.

The Tribunal recommends a standard key to the document which will show each party’s position:
Make sure the key is included in the working document.

Normal typeOriginal Final EHC Plan
Underlined type/strikethroughAmendments/deletions agreed by both parties
Bold typeParents’ proposed amendments
Bold strikethroughParents’ proposed deletions
Italic typeLA’s proposed amendments
Italic strikethroughLA’s proposed deletion
Image of ‘keys’ table for working document.

If specific wording is derived from written evidence contained in the tribunal bundle, include a reference to the page or pages but avoid footnotes.

Do not send every copy prepared during the course of negotiations. The Tribunal only needs the last copy of the working document.

The Tribunal will require an electronic and hard copy of the working document.

These should arrive at least ten working days before the final hearing date.

Working document

The local authority should email the final agreed working document to the tribunal at least 10 working days before the hearing.

If the wording changes after that deadline, the local authority must:

  • email the new version to the tribunal and the other party
  • bring 5 paper copies of it to the hearing, so it can be added to the parties’ and tribunal’s bundles

Read more about how local authorities should prepare the ‘working document’ before a SEND Tribunal case.