We also offer this information as a pre-recorded information video and as a virtual information session.

Tribunal update - September 2023

The Tribunal are currently operating a 12-14 week timetable for refusal to assess appeals and a 50-week timetable for all other appeals.

The Tribunal are listing cases in what they deem to be priority order. Priority will include children who will be without an educational placement whilst the appeal is ongoing. Parents can make a request to the Tribunal via a Request for Changes to bring the hearing date forward setting out the reasoning as to why the case is urgent and a priority.

What is the SENDIST Tribunal?

The Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) tribunal is an independent national tribunal, who have the power to order the local authority to:   

  • Carry out an Educational, Health Care (EHC) needs assessment (refusal to assess appeal).
  • Issue an Educational Health and Care plan (refusal to issue a plan appeal).
  • Change what is written in an existing EHCP (contents appeal).
  • Continue a plan that has been stopped (cease to maintain appeal).
  • Change the school or setting named in the plan (placement or section I appeal).

Mediation might be a helpful first step in trying to resolve your disagreement with the local authority and should be considered for all appeals, except placement only (section I) appeals.   

You have two months from the date on your decision letter from the local authority, or one month from the date on your mediation certificate to make an appeal, whichever is later.

If you have an EHCP and are outside of these time limits, then you could consider asking for a review of the EHCP.   

Appealing to the Tribunal is free and does not require legal advice to be sought.   


Mediation in Leeds is provided by Community Accord and is a free, less formal way of trying to reach an agreement with the local authority.   

You need to consider mediation before you can appeal to the SEND tribunal, except for placement only (section I) appeals. This means contacting the service so that they can talk to you about mediation and why it might be helpful to you. You can then make a decision about whether to go ahead with it or not.   

If you decide not to use mediation, they will send you a certificate to show that you considered it. You need this certificate to make your appeal to the tribunal.   

If you decide to go ahead with mediaton, then the mediator will arrange a meeting between you and the local authority within 30 calendar days.   

If the mediation is successful, the results will be written up as a mediation agreement and will be legally binding on both parties.   

If an agreement is not reached in the meeting, then you will be sent your certificate and would then be able to continue to make your appeal to the tribunal.   

To arrange mediation:   

Refusal to assess appeal

If Leeds City Council has written to you saying that they have decided not to do an EHC needs assessment, you can appeal against this decision.   

This type of appeal is known as on the papers. This means you don’t need to attend an actual hearing. If you would like a hearing, you can request one in writing explaining your reasons why. This will then be considered by a registrar or judge.   

If you want to appeal against a refusal to assess decision, you will find our advice about the appeals process, including about completing the form here.   

You can also contact us to request a paper or digital copy of this guide.   

Appeal form (SEND35a)

Refusal to issue a plan, contents or cease to maintain appeals

You can make an appeal if you disagree with Leeds City Council's decision not to issue an EHCP, if you’re unhappy with what is written in the EHCP once it has been finalised, or if they have ceased the plan. You can also appeal if Leeds City Council are refusing to make any changes to the EHCP following a recent review.   

You can also appeal against the placement named in section I alongside a contents appeal if this is also something you disagree with. You would not need to complete a seperate appeal application to do this.   

If you want to appeal against one of these, you will find our advice about the appeals process, including about completing the form here.   

You can also contact us to request a paper or digital copy of this guide.   

Appeal form (SEND35)

Placement (section I) appeal

Parents and young people have the right to request that a particular school, college or other setting is named in an EHC plan. If the local authority doesn’t agree to a request and names a different setting, this can be appealed.   

Unlike the other types of appeal, if this is all you are appealing for, you do not need to have considered or had mediation to make this type of appeal and do not need a mediation certificate. You have two months from receiving the decision letter from Leeds City Council to request your appeal.   

As you would need to make a case to the tribunal about why your prefered placement should be named, we would usually advise that you also think about also making a contents appeal at the same time. This way you can have the needs (section B) and the provision (section F) written in the plan looked at and discussed as part of the appeal. It may be that these sections need changing or amending in some way and could help to make a stronger case for why your prefered placement is better able to meet need.   

If you want to appeal against a placement, you can contact us to request a copy of our appealing to the SEND tribunal guide. This guide provides information and advice about filling out the appeal form and about the appeals process itself.   

Go to appeal form (SEND35)

Unlawful decisions

If you feel that the local authority has acted unlawfully in something it has decided to do, failed to do, or a policy that they follow, then you could make a claim for a judicial review.   

Judicial reviews are a different to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) appeals as they doesn’t agree or disagree with the decision made by the public body. Instead, they look at the way the decision was taken, and whether it was made lawfully, fairly and rationally.   

You can read more about judicial reviews on our making a complaint page.   

Useful resources

Leeds Sendiass are not responsible for the content of sites or services offered by third parties.

You can find more links on our Useful SEND resource page.