Skip to main content
Two women sat together in office

Challenging the support your child is getting

How to challenge an education setting or local authority about your child's support.

If you are concerned about any aspect of your child’s support, you have the right to bring this up with the people involved, and to challenge the decisions being made.

There are many organisations out there who can help you do this, and there are official processes in place to make sure your child gets the best possible outcome. 

How to challenge your child's support

The first thing you can do is request a meeting with the people involved or write to the school or local authority about your concerns. This problem solving toolkit from disability charity Cerebra has some helpful model letters and tips for preparing for a meeting.

If the people involved aren't able to find a satisfactory solution, you can take your concerns further and you may end up in contact with the SEND tribunal (see below).

Organisations that can help

There are several organisations who can help you challenge your child’s school or education provider, or the local authority:

  • Your local SEND IASS (Information, Advice and Support Services) are there to advise and support disabled children and young people and their families. Find your local service at IASS Network.
  • Contact have specialist education advisors available on their helpline on 0808 808 3555.
  • IPSEA also offers advice on your child’s rights , and resources to help you challenge education providers and local authorities.
  • Cerebra’s Legal Entitlements Research Project helps families of children and young people with special educational needs who are experiencing problems with education services.

The SEND Tribunal

The SEND Tribunal is there to adjudicate between schools, local authorities and families/young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The tribunal can make decisions on the following matters:

  • if you believe that a school has discriminated against your child because of their disability
  • if the local authority refuses to carry out an EHC needs assessment
  • if the local authority refuses to issue an EHC plan
  • if the local authority refuses to make changes to a plan after a review or reassessment
  • a decision by the local authority to end the plan
  • what the plan says about your child’s special educational needs, including the school or college named in the plan.

You might want to do more to influence decisions about special educational needs issues locally and nationally. Your local parent carer forum campaigns on issues that are important to you and your child. Visit the National Network of Parent Carer Forums to find your local forum.

Timeframes for lodging an appeal and considering mediation

You have 2 months to lodge your appeal with the tribunal. For many appeals you must decide whether you want to go through optional mediation.

You can do this by phoning the mediation services your local authority has recommended for you. You must make this call within the two month timeframe that has been set. Once you've called the mediation service, your deadline for lodging your appeal may be extended.

Get in touch, we're here for you

The Learning Disability Helpline is our free help and advice line.

Our team can offer advice, information and discuss what support Mencap can offer tailored to your needs, in your area.

Call or email us

You might also like

How helpful is this page?