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Special Educational Needs & Disability Information, Advice & Support Service

Support with Issues and Appeals

This information is about what you can do if your child has Special Educational Needs (SEN) or a disability and you are unhappy about the help they are getting. 

Decisions about provision for children and young people with SEN or disabilities should be made jointly by providers, parents, and children and young people themselves, taking a person centred approach, with the views of children, young people and parents taken into account when those decisions are made.

First Steps

If you are not happy about the help that your child has at school, the first step is to talk to one of the following:

  • Their teacher (or for a nursery their keyworker)
  • The Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO)
  • The Head Teacher (or principal)

If you think the school is doing all it can but your child needs even more help, you can ask the local authority for an EHC needs assessment.

If your child has an Education, Health and Care plan, you can also contact the SEND Service at Southend Borough Council.

What Next?

If you still have a problem you might be able to:

  • Seek some help to put your concerns forward
  • Make a complaint
  • Ask for independent disagreement resolution or mediation
  • Appeal against a decision.

SENDIASS can tell you more about each of these and help you decide what to do.

Seeking Help

It might be helpful to ask a friend or relative to attend a meeting with you. It is a good idea to keep notes or have records of what the school has done and has told you.

SENDIASS can give you impartial information and advice about possible ways forward. We will also be able to tell you about local or national groups that provide information and advice.

Making a Complaint

If you think that the school, college, or Southend Council could do more, you can complain using their complaints procedure. You will usually need to:

  • Have tried to resolve your complaint by speaking to the right people
  • Put your complaint in writing, using the word ‘complaint’
  • Be clear about all the issues you want resolved
  • State what you want to happen
  • Give a reasonable time by which you would like a response

If you want help to understand the different procedures or you are not happy with the outcome of making a complaint, SENDIASS can give you information on what to do next.

Disagreement Resolution

Many disagreements can be sorted out by talking with the school, college, local authority, or for health services, the Clinical Commissioning Group.

Sometimes it can be difficult to reach agreement.

Local authorities must make disagreement resolution services available to parents and young people. Use of the disagreement resolution services is voluntary and has to be with the agreement of all parties. The service, while commissioned by it, must be independent of the local authority. No one who is directly employed by a local authority can provide disagreement resolution services.

Global Mediation is an independent service that will provide a trained mediator to facilitate a discussion. The purpose is to look for a way forward that all the parties accept. The service is free and confidential. You can choose whether to use it. 

You can read more about this on the Local Offer for Southend on Sea.  


Usually you can follow more than one route. For example you can still make a complaint if you have already tried disagreement resolution.

SENDIASS can explain your rights and the different procedures.

You can find out more about making a complaint about provision at your child’s school on its website or by asking about its complaints procedure. 

The Local Offer, published by the local authority, includes information about the arrangements for resolving disagreements and for mediation, and details about making complaints. It also tells you about your right to appeal to the Tribunal.

SENDIASS can give you:

  • Information about complaints procedures, disagreement resolution and mediation
  • Advice about what to do if you are unhappy with the support the school or college is providing
  • Details of other organisations, support groups and information services that might help
  • Information and advice about your rights to appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (SEN and Disability)
  • Impartial advice and support through the process of making a complaint, disagreement resolution, mediation, or appeal.