Talk to your provider
If you’re not happy about the support your child gets, or about a service you have received, it is usually best to begin by talking to your provider. This is whoever provides the service.
- your child’s school
- the council’s SEN team
- your child’s GP surgery
- social services
- a charity
- a company
Raise your concern as soon as you can, and talk to someone in charge. For example, a headteacher, manager, or key worker.
Mediation or advocacy support
If you’re still unhappy after you have done this, you can try mediation or advocacy support. This could help you to find a satisfactory solution quickly without needing to take things further.
Use the following services:
- Global Mediation provides free, independent SEND mediation and disagreement resolution services in some circumstances
- Sussex Advocacy Partnership provides free independent advocacy in Brighton & Hove
- If you are unhappy with a health service, Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) may be able to help
You may also find it helpful to speak to an Amaze SENDIASS adviser. Amaze SENDIASS is an independent, confidential service. They are not an advocacy or mediation service, but do provide information, advice and support around SEND issues.
If you are still unhappy after speaking with your provider – possibly with mediation or advocacy support - you can make a complaint. Or you may choose to make a complaint right away, without speaking to your provider first. This begins a formal process to try to resolve your concern.
Make a complaint
If you want to make a complaint, ask the provider for their complaints policy, or check their website. This should explain what your options are, and what you can expect to happen.
The policy should also tell you if you need to make your complaint within a certain amount of time.
Complain about a council-run or NHS service
Get more information about making a complaint about:
- schools, nurseries and other education services
- health services
- social care services
- Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessment and plan decisions
- other council services
We aim to deal with all complaints in a fair and sensitive way.
If you make a complaint about a council-run service but are unhappy with the outcome, you can either:
- appeal to the SEND Tribunal
- ask the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman to investigate how we've carried out our work
The Ombudsman can only investigate if the issue can't be dealt with by the SEND Tribunal. You must go all the way through the council’s complaints procedure before you can take your complaint to the Tribunal or Ombudsman.
There are strict time limits. For example, you must appeal to the SEND Tribunal within 2 months of an EHC decision letter. Complaints must be brought to the Ombudsman within 12 months.
Some types of complaints can be brought to other bodies, for example the Department for Education or Ofsted. Pages 246 to 247 of the SEND Code of Practice provide details about who can hear which complaints.
Information and advice
Find more information and advice about making complaints and challenging decisions:
- Amaze SENDIASS – making complaints
- IPSEA – Making a complaint or challenging a decision
- Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman – top tips for making a complaint
- Preparing for adulthood – SEND complaints: a guide for young people in education
Learn more about your child’s rights: