hgh dhea metformin


January 2011



Recent Posts


First Published Monday, 3 November 2008

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) is changing from 3 November 2008.

We have received a number of queries from people worried about the changes. SENDIST is parents’ main point of recourse to challenge aspects of the statementing process, and more tribunal cases concern autism than any other special educational need. It is vital that parents have confidence in the system. The National Autistic Society (NAS) has been working hard to make sure that these changes reflect the experiences and needs of families of children with autism.

Below we explain the changes, update you on current activity in Parliament, explain what we have been doing, and correct some inaccurate information about the changes.

In the related resources at the bottom of the page you can find links to useful resources and further information about the changes from the NAS and SENDIST, including the new Rules and answers to questions we asked MPs to raise in Parliament.

If you need help getting the right education for your children contact our Advocacy for Education Service on 0845 070 4002.

What is happening?

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) is changing as part of reforms to streamline the whole tribunal system under the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 1997. The NAS has been working to make sure that the system works effectively so that parents can continue to represent themselves and panels have the expertise to make appropriate decisions.

SENDIST is being brought together with two other tribunals on mental health and social care. Cases will now be heard by the SEN and Disability Panel (SENDISP) within the new Health, Education and Social Care (HESC) Chamber of the Tribunal.

These changes take place on 3 November 2008 and will apply to cases registered on or after that date. All cases registered before 3 November will take place under the old system.

SENDIST have produced two newsletters to explain the changes. Some inaccurate and misleading information has been circulating, so they have also written a briefing to correct this. All these documents are available below.

Our Tribunal Support team are fully trained in the new system, and we suggest that any parents considering appealing to Tribunal contact our service or other support as soon as they can.

If you need support in getting the right educational provision for your son or daughter, including if you need support in taking a case to Tribunal, contact our Advocacy for Education Service on 0845 070 4002.

What do we think of the changes?

Some of the changes to SENDIST are welcome. For example, the new case management system should mean that the right evidence is gathered before the case reaches its final hearing and so fewer cases are delayed or rejected at hearing stage because of inappropriate or insufficient evidence. Also, appeals against SENDISP decisions will now be heard by an Upper Chamber of the Tribunal rather than having to take a judicial review to the High Court. Appeals on decisions issued on or after 3 November will be to the Upper Tribunal not the High Court.

However, we have a number of areas of concern, which we have raised in Parliament. Overall, the NAS believes the lack of information about the new process has been unacceptable and has resulted in misinformation, anxiety and stress for families, which could have been avoided. Another area of concern is that parents will have to provide more information about their case and identify potential sources of evidence they will use at an earlier stage than under the previous system. We recommend parents get support as early as they can when they consider taking a new case to tribunal to ensure they are well-prepared.

Current activity in Parliament

Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs have objected to the new Tribunal Rules in Parliament (known as ‘praying against’ them) with the aim of getting a debate on the issues. There is a small chance that this could mean that the Rules are repealed, although this is very unlikely. The NAS is in contact with MPs about this process.

What the NAS is doing

The NAS continues to raise our concerns in Parliament and with Government about the lack of information that has been made available about the changes, particularly for families who are taking cases to SENDIST. We have prompted MPs to ask the Government questions in Parliament to try and get answers to our concerns and ensure that the needs of families with autism are taking into account. Answers to some of the questions are in the related resources section below. We have also continued to raise these issues with officials behind the scenes.

The National Autistic Society formally commented on the draft Tribunal Rules proposals and raised our concerns when the Government originally consulted on them. You can read our response in the related resources at the bottom of this page. We have been working closely with other SEN experts and advocacy services to try and influence the Rules.

Inaccurate information

Some of the information that has been circulated about the possible impact of the changes has been very misleading, and we would like to clarify the following points.

Parental representation: It has been claimed that the new system will make it much more difficult for parents to represent themselves at Tribunal. The NAS has raised this in Parliament, and in response the Government has stated that it does not expect the changes to make it harder for parents. However we will continue to monitor this, and push to make sure that parents are able to succeed at Tribunal without legal representation.

We know that local authorities are already increasingly using barristers at tribunal which makes it harder for parents to represent themselves. Our Tribunal Support Service aims to provide support for families who do not have legal representation, and in some cases we are able to access pro bono legal support to help with cases.

Balance of power between local authorities and parents: We do not expect the balance of power to shift in favour of local authorities as some have suggested, although we will continue to monitor the situation and feed back to Government. The NAS is involved in the SENDIST special user group, and, in response to a question we asked in Parliament, the Government has identified this group as a mechanism to report back to the Secretary of State for Justice on how the new changes are working.

Assessment of children: There has also been concern over a proposal that a Tribunal could order a child to be examined. The SENDIST Judicial Management Group has clearly stated that the new rules will not be used to force any child to undergo an assessment against his or her wishes or without parental consent (see briefing note in related resources). Where there are sound reasons for refusal, the Tribunal is very unlikely to make a finding adverse to a party’s case. Local authorities and schools will also have to be open to an independent person coming for example to see if the provision is appropriate for the child.

Costs of tribunals: In relation to the costs of tribunals, the Government answered a question asked by the NAS saying that overall the new system is expected to lead to a reduction in the time and costs for users of SENDIST. However, they say that in some cases it may lead to some additional upfront cost in some individual cases, whether in the form of paperwork to provide better information or a preliminary hearing, in complex cases, to identify the issues and tell the parties what they need to provide.

Awarding of costs: On the awarding of costs to parties, the Judicial Management Group has stated that they ‘are unlikely to change the current practice of rarely awarding costs and the threat of costs must not be used to deter people from appealing or making a claim.’

Number of witnesses: It has also been claimed that the changes to SENDIST would mean that local authorities would be able to have unlimited witnesses while parents could only call on one or two people to support their case. However, the increase in the number of witnesses that can be called will apply equally to both sides.

Both sides will need to be clear why these people need to attend in person and the tribunal will probably decide ultimately who needs to attend as a result of the case management process being introduced (see next point). This will help to make it clear who needs to be called and whose evidence is not needed because all the necessary evidence that they could give has already been obtained.

Length of tribunals: It has also been said that the changes could also see a tribunal lasting for two to three weeks. However, any hearing itself will in general only last one day.

The confusion surrounds the introduction of a case management process (mentioned above) which will start early on in the process and will enable SENDIST to consider fully what evidence and reports are needed and issue directions to ensure that these are obtained. As a result much of the negotiation will occur before the hearing date and many cases will hopefully be resolved without the need for a hearing. If a hearing is needed then hopefully all the evidence that would be needed will have been gathered during the case management process to avoid the need for adjournments. Under the current system many hearings are adjourned as the panel discovers that it needs some additional evidence.

You can find a statement on these and other issues in the SENDIST briefing from SENDIST judicial management team below.

October 2008

Related resources

Relevant areas/articles elsewhere on this website

External links

Relevant documents for downloading

Link to download Adobe Acrobat Reader in new window
Download Acrobat Reader®

Source: http://www.nas.org.uk/nas/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=241&a=16828

Leave a Reply