What to do when things go wrong with SEND

Complaining

There has been a mistake or there has been a delay

Sometimes things go wrong -  what can you do when there is a mistake or delay relating to SEND?

Step 1- if you disagree with a decision, find out whether you should:

  • Make a complaint or
  • Make a disability discrimination complaint/ claim or
  • Appeal the decision

If you have the right to appeal, you should do that to get the decision looked at again. A complaint will not be enough to change the decision. Usually if you have the right to appeal you will have received a letter or email about the decision. There will be information about how to appeal included. For example, perhaps you have asked for an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) and it has been refused. Or perhaps your child has been permanently excluded from school. There is more information on the what to do when things go wrong - appealing page.

If you feel your child has been treated unfairly because of their disability, you may want to make a disability discrimination complaint or claim. See our step by step guidance on the that's not fair - disability discrimination page.

If there is not a right to appeal and your concern isn't about disability discrimination, move to step 2:

Step 2 - Start gently, but promptly - If you have a complaint, we recommend making your concerns known informally as soon as possible by contacting the professional involved, such as the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo), Social Worker or Education, Health and Care Coordinator  (EHCCo). You may want to ask for a meeting or discussion.

  • Use an email if you can so that you have a record that you can refer back to.
  • Explain clearly and briefly what the mistake or delay is.
  • Try to avoid blaming anyone.
  • Say what the impact of the mistake or delay is.
  • Set a time for the professional to respond.
  • Say what you want to happen.

For example: At my meeting with you on 3 May, I was told that my child would be getting extra help for his difficulty with sitting still and listening. I am unhappy because it is now November and he hasn't had any help and keeps getting into trouble. Please can we meet to discuss this? Please respond within 2 weeks.

If you do not hear back or the response is unsatisfactory, you may want to contact their manager.

If this does not resolve your concerns you may wish to move to step 3 and make a formal complaint.

Step 3 - Make your complaint. Check you know who to complain to and how to do so. Local authorities, health services and schools and other providers will have their own complaints procedures, usually on their websites. Many organisations have time limits for making a complaint: