Secondary Transfer Appeals 2012-2013

February to July is the busiest time of year for the Tribunal and for many professionals and schools who assess and advise pupils with Special Educational Needs. Thus if you think you may need to appeal your child's Statement of Special Educational Needs it is best to be well prepared .

You will need to ensure that you have copies of all relevant paperwork ( records going back at least 3 years from schools and relevant professionals ) ; have organised assessments at schools if the LA has not organised these and they are  required for your preferred school to be named and have lined up potential professionals to assess your child if you think that these may be required to produce additional evidence . Once the LA has issued a final statement you will need the letter accompanying the final statement , the Final Statement and a copy of all the appendices listed on the Statement .

This year we will be offering face to face appointments with a named Advocate at our office in Richmond SW London on Monday and Thursdays  for parents considering appealing their child's Statement of Special Educational Needs . Appointments can be booked through Jane Cotton( jane@advocacyandmediation.co.uk ) or Helen Rew ( helen@advocacyandmediation.co.uk). A list of required documents will be sent in advance of the meeting . Meetings will be charged at £225 plus VAT  and last between 1.5 and 2 hours. Written advice will be provided following the meeting .  This will be deducted from our Tribunal fees if the parent selects us to support them  through the Tribunal process.

The LA must finalise all Statements of Special Educational Needs by 15th February 2012 for all Year 6 students transferring to Secondary School in September 2012. LAs are required to do this by law. The law is set out in The Education ( Special Educational Needs ) ( England ) ( Consolidation ) Regulations 2001 paragraph 19 .

 

"(3) Where this Regulation applies an authority must ensure that the child’s statement is amended so that before 15th February in the calendar year of the child’s transfer the statement names the school or other institution which the child will be attending following that transfer."

LAs must amend the Statement even if the child attends a school that has a Secondary Department.

If the parents do not agree with the school named in Part 4 of the Statement , the parents have the right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal ( SEND ) within 2 months of the date on the letter accompanying the  Final Statement .

Last year the Tribunal adopted a significantly reduced timetable for Secondary Transfer Appeals and aimed to hear every appeal within 10-12 weeks of registration . This meant that parents had to have all their paperwork and evidence ready within 6-8 weeks of registering the appeal.

This year the Tribunal have indicated that they will "hear " cases involving phase transfers 12 weeks after registration . The LA will have to respond to the appeal within 5 weeks of registration and all parties will need to submit all documentation 9 weeks after registering the appeal ( ie 3 weeks before the hearing ).

Last year the reduced timetable was successful in many cases; however in a number of cases either the parents or LA were not able to produce all the required evidence in time. The Tribunal was sensitive and flexible to these situations and extended the time allowed to produce evidence and moved the hearing dates to accommodate the parties  .

in a previous year a  small number of hearings were postponed at the last minute because the Tribunal could not find enough hearing venues or Judges to hear the cases. These were cases due to be heard in June and July , the Tribunal's busiest months. This caused significant distress to parents and young people . In most cases Hearings were heard before the end of July ; however in a few cases Hearings did not take place until September .

This year  the Tribunal will adopt a slightly longer timetable -  12 weeks - to hear all Secondary Transfer Appeals . However the intention is that all appeals are heard by the end of the summer term in July 2013 so that all pupils will know which school they will attend by the beginning of the Summer Holidays.

Parents will have been asked to express a preference for a maintained school or make representations for an independent or non maintained school in the Summer term of Year 5 or the Autumn term of Year 6 .

Before a school can be named in Part 4 of a Statement of Special Educational Needs , the LA has to formally consult with the school and if the LA is a maintained school in a different LA , they must also consult with the LA. To name an Independent or non maintained school , the Head Teacher ( and Governors ) of the school must agree to offer a place . If the independent school declines to offer a place , the LA cannot name the school. If the independent school offers a place, the LA will then decide whether or not to name this school in Part 4 of the Statement .  This situation is different with a maintained school ; the school can indicate that they can or cannot offer a place . However the final decision whether to name a maintained school lies with the LA that maintains the Statement . Even if the maintained school declines to offer a place , the LA can overule them .

The LA MUST formally consult with any maintained school the parent has expressed a preference for but does not HAVE to formally consult with any non maintained or independent school the parent had made representations for. They may chose to consult a non maintained school or an independent school but they do not HAVE to and cannot be compelled to .

Some LAs will already have issued a proposed amended statement setting out what amendments they are proposing to include in Parts 2 and 3 of the Statement . However we have found that some LAs tend not to issue a proposed amended statement but merely to issue a final amended statement naming a Secondary School in Part 4 on or close to the 15th February 2012.

Some LAs will just have consulted with the schools the parents expressed a preference for ; others will have also consulted with some schools of their own choice. It is good practice for the LA to inform the parents of which schools they have consulted with . However this does not always happen .

Some LAs will have informed parents of the contents of the responses to the consultations from schools ; other LAs do not copy parents into the responses .


Enquiries should be emailed to partners@advocacyandmediation.co.uk.