New figures show nearly all parents in England forced to go to SEND tribunal win  

2 mins read

Thursday 14 December 2023

Tags: EHC plans, send, SEND Tribunals, Education Health and Care Plan

The government’s annual Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Statistics show that 98% of parents win on appeal once they get to tribunal – meaning that just 2 per cent of refusals by councils to provide SEND support were upheld in tribunal decisions last year.

At the same time the number of SEND tribunals has gone up by a record 24 per cent.

Earlier this year we told you about a report by Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP) and Pro Bono Economics which found that lost SEND tribunals cost taxpayers £60 million in 2021-22.

The statistics published by the government today show that the situation has got even worse.

Anna Bird, Contact’s CEO and Chair of the Disabled Children’s Partnership says: “Even more parents are having to go through the expense and stress of a Tribunal hearing despite Tribunals finding in their favour in a staggering 98% of cases. 

“This shows the system is fundamentally broken.  The government and local councils must take action to make sure the right, lawful decisions are made first time, so that parents do not have to take legal action to get the support their children need and are entitled to, and to prevent this needless waste of public money.”

The statistics published today illustrate what we at Contact already know: that parents know what support their children need, and have to fight tooth and nail to get it.

The DCP is calling for government to ringfence resources for early information, advice and support for parents navigating the system; better training for local council staff so they make the right, lawful decisions first time and stronger accountability.

Information for affected families

Find out how to get an EHC plan for your child.

If you disagree with a council’s decision about an EHC needs assessment or EHC plan, read our advice on mediation and appeals to the SEND Tribunal.