Challenging decisions and appealing

Sometimes when problems arise or you are not happy about a decision about your child’s or young person’s education, health, and social care needs, you can usually sort this out informally, for example, through discussions and/or letting the person or service know why you are not happy or dissatisfied, with the hope that the matter will be sorted out.

However, sometimes problems do not go away or get sorted, this is when you may feel that the only option you have is to formally complain or challenge the decision.

The following pages will explain the steps to take, depending on who you need to make a complaint about, or challenge about your child’s or young person’s education, health, and social care needs.

Complaints about a nursery, school, college, or a local authority service

All school governing bodies/boards (including academies and free and independent schools) are required to have a complaints policy/procedure. This should be published and made available to you upon request, and on their website.

Please see below for examples, of problems you may want to complain about informally or formally:

  • If the school is not putting in help for your child's or young person’s special educational needs (SEN)
  • Your child or young person is not being included in the activities of the school because of their SEN
  • Your child or young person has been unlawfully suspended or excluded

Complaints about a local authority service

You may wish to make a complaint about your local authority service because it is not providing a service that it said it would or it may not be carrying out its duties (what it should or must be providing) – meaning it is impacting your child’s or young person’s education, health, and social care needs.

Complaints if your child or young person is under 18: Wandsworth Children's  Services

If your child or young person is under 18, you can follow Wandsworth Council's children's services complaints process.

You may be able to complain if:

  • You have waited a long time to get a decision about an EHC Needs Assessment, EHC plan, or an annual review of an EHC plan, or a social care assessment
  • Your child or young person is not getting the help (provision) set out in their EHC plan
  • You are not happy or have an about a service run by the local authority for children and young people

Complaint letter templates

You can download our complaint letter templates:

Complaints if your young person is aged between 18 and 25: Wandsworth Adult Social Care

You may be able to complain if:

  • You are not happy about a decision made by adult social care or public health
  • You are not happy about the service provided by local authority adult services

If your young person is between 18 and 25, you can follow Wandsworth Council's adult social care complaints process.

Complaint letter templates

You can download our complaint letter templates:

Where can I get more information, advice, and support on challenging decisions?

For more information on challenging decisions you can visit the IPSEA website or contact us.

Challenging decisions about an EHC needs assessment, EHC plan or an Annual Review of an EHC plan. Appealing and Independent Mediation

This section of the page will provide you with basic information on when you have a right of appeal to the special educational needs and disability tribunal (SENDIST), what you have to consider before lodging an appeal, and the time scales of an appeal.

The information on this page is mainly taken from the SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years.

What does a right of appeal to SENDIST mean?

If you do not agree with a decision made by the local authority about an EHC needs assessment or an EHC plan, you can appeal to the SEND tribunal (SENDIST).

What does the SEND Tribunal do?

This is an independent national tribunal which hears your appeal against the local authority’s (LA) decision about your child’s EHC needs assessment or EHC plan. Young people (aged 16 to 25) with SEND, can also lodge an appeal to the tribunal with or without you, about a decision/s the local authority has made about their EHC needs assessment or EHC plan. The tribunal also hears claims of disability discrimination against schools too.

Reasons for appealing

You can appeal if the local authority decides not to:

  • Start an EHC Needs Assessment or n Reassessment (if the local authority has not carried one out in the last six months)
  • Issue an EHC plan after completing an EHC Needs Assessment
  • Cease to maintain (end) the EHC plan
  • Amend (make changes) the EHC plan following an Annual Review of an EHC plan or


  • You do not agree with what is written in the EHC plan,
  • Section B- A description of your child’s or young person’s Special Educational Needs (SEN)
  • Section F – the SEN Provision (support/help) they must receive
  • Section I – You disagree with the name of the education setting (for instance, nursery, school, college, or training setting) or the local authority has not named one in the EHC plan. Instead the LA has written, for example, “A Day mainstream school or college or “A Day SEN school or college for children with Autism’

*You or your young person, also have the right to request recommendations about Section C (health needs), Section D (social care needs), Section G (health provision) and/or Section H (social care provision), if you appeal Section B, F and or I.

Important information

You have two months to lodge an appeal from the date on the decision letter you receive from the local authority. This means the SEND Tribunal must receive your completed appeal application form, by the deadline date. The local authority decision letter should have the following information:

  • Your right to appeal the decision
  • *Your time limits to appeal
  • Information & contact details about the Independent Mediation Adviser
  • Information on Disagreement Resolution Services
  • Where to go for Information, Advice and Support (WIASS)

*If you miss your deadline date to appeal, you can request that the SEND tribunal accept your appeal late. There is a section on the appeal form where you can explain why your application is late. If you and your young person are thinking of appealing to the SEND Tribunal, you will first need to speak to the Independent Mediation Advisor (their details will be on your decision letter) to discuss whether mediation might be a better way to resolve with what you do not agree. This does not mean you have to take part in independent mediation when you speak to the mediation advisor. Please note: You do not speak to the mediation advisor, if you are only appealing Section I, of the EHC plan.

Independent mediation

If you decide that you would like independent mediation, this must be requested within your two month appeal deadline. Usually the mediation advisor will contact the local authority to set up a mediation session. The local authority must ensure that a mediation session is arranged within 30 days of the mediation advisor informing them that you want independent mediation. The local authority must take part in Independent Mediation. If the local authority is unable to arrange a mediation session within the 30 days of being informed, then they must let the mediation advisor know. The mediation advisor should then issue you with a mediation certificate within three days of being informed by the local authority of this.


Your deadline to appeal is two months from the date of the local authority decision letter or one month from the date of the mediation certificate, whichever is later. Appealing If you decide you want to appeal, you will need to tell the mediation advisor, who will then issue you with a mediation certificate within three working days of you telling them that you do not want mediation. Once you have received your mediation certificate, you will need to complete and send the appeal application form to the SEND Tribunal (they usually ask you to do this by email. If you do not have an email account, you can send it by post).

Please follow the links below to download the appropriate appeal application form:

Once your appeal has been registered (accepted) by the SEND Tribunal, they will write to you (within 10 working days) and explain:

  • What will happen next
  • What the local authority and you must do and by when
  • The date of the Tribunal Hearing
  • What is a Tribunal hearing?

What happens at a tribunal hearing?

This is where the appeal will be considered by a panel: The panel is made up of a Judge and at least one specialist member (someone who has a lot of experience of SEN and disabilities), who will decide your appeal.

Please note: Appeals about the EHC plan are held in person ( virtually).

Refusal to start an EHC Needs Assessment appeals are held as paper hearings. This means you are not asked to attend in person although you can request to. For more information on appealing and mediation please visit the IPSEA website or contact us to discuss further.

Leaflets and templates

You can download our appeal leaflets and template letters:

Appealing a school place if your child does not have an EHC plan

If your child has been refused a place at a Wandsworth maintained or academy school, you have a legal right to appeal against this decision to an independent appeal panel.

Make a school’s admissions appeal - Wandsworth Borough Council

The Wandsworth Appeals Service is responsible for arranging appeal panels for all of Wandsworth's community primary and secondary schools and some of the Borough's academies, voluntary-aided and foundation schools.

Find out how to make an appeal in Wandsworth.

Please note: If you child’s school is an academy and they have not signed up for Wandsworth appeals panels, you will have to contact the school directly to obtain information how to make an appeal. Please have a look on the school’s website in the first instance.

Where can I get more information, advice, and support with a school admission appeal

If you want more information about a school admission appeal, you can: