On this page you will find information and practical advice about making a complaint if you are unhappy with a process or action related to you child's SEND.

How to make a complaint

If you have spoken about any concerns with your child's school or setting, but still feel unhappy with the results, you can make a complaint.

To make a complaint you need to:
  • put it in writing and use the word "complaint"
  • be clear about the issues you want to be looked at
  • say what you would like to happen next

If you’re making a complaint about a school, you will need to send your complaint to the head teacher. Their complaints procedure will also be on their website.

If you do not receive a response, are unhappy with it, or your complaint involves the head teacher, you can send your complaint to the governing body.

For Academies, you will need to check their website for the complaints policy.

You can also send your complaint to Leeds City Council. If you haven’t made your complaint to the school first, it is likely that they will ask you to do this before they look into the complaint for you.

Judicial Reviews

A judicial review is a legal process that reviews the lawfulness of something that a public body has decided to do, failed to do, or a policy that they follow           

They are a different to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST), as SENDIST will hear appeals about a specific set of issues such as EHCP disputes.          

A judicial review 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.          

If they rule the decision wasn’t made lawfully, was unreasonable, or disproportionate, then the court can order the public body to start over and re-make the decision. Sometimes, this order will lead to a different decision, but it may be that the body reach the same decision again, but in a lawful way.          

In some cases the court may make a 'mandatory order’, which means that the public body must act in a particular way. For example, a mandatory order might be made is if the local authority is failing to secure the educational provision in section F of an EHCP, as in that case, the only lawful outcome is to secure the provision.          

When a judicial review may be needed

A judicial review may be necessary where there is no other way the complaint could be resolved. For example,:          

  • The local authority (LA)has agreed to issue an EHC plan but fails to actually issue the final plan, resulting in the child or young person missing special educational provision or schooling.
  • The LA fails to secure the provision set out in an EHC plan, resulting in the child or young person missing education.
  • The LA has unreasonably decided to stop providing home to school transport, to which a child or young person is entitled, meaning the child or young person cannot get to their place of learning.
  • The governing body of a school refuses to admit a child or young person despite being named in the EHC plan (where there has been no formal exclusion).

Starting judicial proceedings

If you are thinking of requesting a juidicial review, it is important to consider:          

  • Legal assistance
  • Unlike a SENDIST appeal, where you can represent yourself, it is advised that you seek professional legal advice and/or representation for a judicial review. Public laws can be very complicated and if you lose the case you could be responsible for covering the legal costs for the oposing side. You may be able to apply for legal aid, but there is a criteria for this support that is means tested.          

  • Trying other processes first
  • The judicial court will expect you to have tried other methods of resolving your claim first, such as making a formal complaint to the public body, the Local Government Ombudsman or to SENDIST.           

  • Timescales for appeal
  • Judicial review applications must be made within three months of the grounds for the claim arising.            

More information

If you would like some more detailed information about judicial reviews and the process, you might find these resource links helpful:          


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.