In March 2017 the Government committed to introduce a two-year national trial to expand the powers of the first-tier tribunal (SEND) to make non-binding recommendations on the health and social care aspects of education, health and care (EHC) plans alongside the educational aspects.
I am pleased to announce the Special Educational Needs and Disability (First-tier Tribunal Recommendation Power) Regulations 2017 for the national trial on the single route of redress have been laid in Parliament today and will come into force on 3 April 2018. The national trial will run for two years and we will consider next steps following an evaluation, including whether evidence supports its continuation.
Separately, the Government have considered their position on powers, provided via the Children and Families Act 2014, to pilot, and subsequently introduce, a right for children under 16 to appeal themselves to the first-tier tribunal (SEND). After careful consideration, we have decided not to pilot this measure at the current time.
Children are at the centre of the SEND system with person-centred planning and co-production a key part of the Children and Families Act 2014. Local authorities in England are already under a duty to present the child’s views to the tribunal. The Children and Families Act 2014 has already introduced the right for young people (aged 16 or over) to appeal. Although giving children under 16 the right to appeal would strengthen their voice, there is limited evidence of demand from families or children in England for this right, and in Wales, where the right was established in 2015, there has not been a single appeal from a child.
Government will keep the issue under consideration, including monitoring the position in the devolved Administrations and how the current system is working for young people aged 16 and over.