The first-tier tribunal

The role of the tribunal

The first-tier tribunal is overseen by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service. It hears appeals against decisions made by local authorities in England about children and young people’s education, health and care needs assessments and Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP). It also hears disability discrimination claims against schools and local authorities.

Who can appeal to the tribunal?

  • Parents – in relation to children from birth to the end of compulsory schooling
  • Young People – over compulsory school age until they reach 25. Young people can register an appeal in their name but can also have their parents’ help and support if needed.
What can be appealed about?

Parents or young people can appeal:

  • when the local authority decides not to carry out an education, health and care needs assessment or re-assessment
  • when the local authority decides not to issue an education, health and care plan following an assessment
  • when there is disagreement over the description of the child or young person’s Special Educational Needs specified in the Education, Health and Care Plan
  • against the special educational provision specified
  • against the school or other institution or type of school or other institution specified in the plan or that no school or other institution is specified
  • when the parent or young person disagrees with an amendment to these elements of the Education, Health and Care Plan
  • when the local authority decides not to amend an Education, Health and Care Plan following a review or re-assessment
  • against a decision by a local authority to cease to maintain an Education, Health and Care Plan

An appeal can't be about personal budgets but can be about the special educational provision to which a personal budget may apply.

An appeal can't be about the health and social care elements of an Education, Health and Care Plan. For these parts parents or young people can go to mediation or follow local health and social care complaints procedures. *Please see Single Route of Redress as there is an update on this information*

Timescales for appeals

Appeals must be made to the tribunal within two months of the Local Authority sending the letter to parents or young people about their decision or within one month of a certificate being issued following mediation or the parent or young person being given mediation information.

How to appeal

The tribunal has a form that needs to be filled to complete an appeal.

What happens at the hearing

GOV.UK has a guide on what happens at the hearing.

The Tribunal has buildings across the country. For Warrington in recent years this has meant that the hearings have been held in Manchester. The appeal will be heard by a judge and usually two Tribunal members who have been appointed because of their knowledge and experience of children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities.

After the appeal the young person or parent should receive a copy of the Tribunal’s decision and reasons by post within 10 working days of the hearing. This will also include details of how to appeal to the Upper Tribunal if it was felt that the decision was wrong in law.

Legal Aid

Legal Aid can fund legal advice and assistance in preparing an appeal to the Tribunal. It cannot fund representation at the Tribunal hearing.

To qualify for legal aid a person must pass a financial means assessment. The case must also have a reasonable chance of succeeding and pass a merits test for this.

To find out if you are eligible visit the legal aid checker on GOV.UK or contact the Civic Legal Advice (CLA) Service on 0845 345 4 345.