How to use the 'Request for Changes' system effectively.
There are times when you may need to ask the Tribunal for help in preparing your appeal. The following examples show the kind of issues that can arise and the actions you can ask the Tribunal to take to assist you. The 'Request for Changes' form is a way of getting the Tribunal's help if the Local Authority or school are being unhelpful.
Getting the Local Authority to do something
As an example, you are appealing about the Local Authority's decision not to issue an EHC plan for your child.
Having read the reports from the various professionals you become aware that the Local Authority failed to request a report from a key professional (for example, if your child has communication difficulties and no Speech and Language report was requested).
The first step is to obtain a Request for Changes form, available here.
You will need to read the guidance and then complete the form, explaining the reason for your request and ask the Tribunal to direct the Local Authority to produce a report which will contain the necessary information. You could also add that this will enable the Tribunal panel at the hearing of your appeal to reach an informed decision about your appeal. It will also reduce the likelihood of the hearing having to be adjourned so that this information can be obtained.
If you have already brought this matter to the attention of the Local Authority, for example, during the EHC assessment, you could include a copy of your letter or email.
You will need to send a copy of the completed form to the Local Authority's named Representative, and we advise giving them a deadline to respond (for example, 5 working days). If there is no response, then copy and paste the email you sent into the box headed 'You must include the other party's response to your request' - and explain that you have received no response from the LA.
It is a good idea to copy (cc.) yourself into all correspondence you have with both the Tribunal and the Local Authority. In that way, in case it is needed later, you will be able to show the time and date the email was sent.
Amending your Appeal
The 'Request for Change' form can also be used to amend your grounds of appeal. For example, there may be a recent professional report with important new evidence. In which case, you can use the Request for Changes system to ask for the evidence to be used for making further amendments, where relevant, you are asking to be made to your child's EHC plan.
Alternatively, the school your child attends may have refused to allow your expert witness to visit to assess your child. The Request for Changes form can be used to seek directions from the Tribunal to order the Local Authority to arrange for the professional to visit the school.
Another possibility is asking the Tribunal to issue a Witness Summons to ensure the attendance of a witness. However, please see the advice on the Request for Changes form before pursuing this as you must check to see if there is another way of including their evidence in the appeal, such as obtaining a report from them instead.
Requesting a Telephone Management Call
There are certain issues on which you may need to ask for assistance from the Tribunal. For example, there may be a difference of opinion between you and the Local Authority about whether your child (now a young person of 16 or over) has what is called 'capacity' to make important decisions.
You can use the 'Request for Changes' form to ask for a Telephone Case Management hearing to take place. This is a telephone conference call, led by a Judge, which involves a telephone conference call with the Local Authority and yourself to discuss the matter. The Judge will then make a decision and after the Telephone Case Management call, the Tribunal will issue the Decision together with any directions saying what must be done, by whom and by when.