SENDIST and Family Court: Who Has the Final Say? | Teaching Expertise


When it comes to making decisions about a child’s education, especially in cases involving special educational needs, parents and guardians may find themselves navigating complex legal systems. The SENDIST (Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal) and the Family Court system are examples of these systems. This article will explore the roles of SENDIST and Family Court in determining special educational needs (SEN) provisions, and ultimately, who has the final say.

SENDIST: An Overview:

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) is an independent legal body that hears appeals from parents and guardians who disagree with decisions made by their local authority concerning their child’s special educational needs (SEN). This tribunal is responsible for ensuring that children with SEN receive appropriate support from their schools and local authorities.

Family Court: An Overview:

The Family Court system deals with a wide range of family-related issues such as divorce, custody arrangements, child support, and adoption. In some cases, the Family Court may be involved in disputes related to a child’s education or special educational needs.

Who Has the Final Say?

In most cases concerning a child’s SEN provision, SENDIST will have the final say. If a parent or guardian disagrees with the local authority’s assessment of their child’s SEN or its proposed provisions, they can appeal to SENDIST. Parents have several reasons for going to tribunal; these can include appealing against an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or requesting that their child be assessed for one if they have not received any such support.

When considering an appeal, SENDIST takes into account all relevant information provided by the parents, local authority, school staff, and other professionals. Based on this information, SENDIST will make a legally binding decision on whether or not to uphold the appeal.

However, there are situations in which other parties may have a say on a child’s educational needs. For example, if there are ongoing Family Court proceedings related to child custody, the court may take into account both parents’ views on the child’s education, including any concerns about special educational needs. In such cases, the Family Court may make a decision that broadly impacts the child’s educational provisions. It is important to note that these rulings differ from SENDIST decisions since they focus primarily on the child’s general welfare rather than specific SEN provisions.


When it comes to disputes over a child’s special educational needs provisions, SENDIST is generally the final decision-making authority. However, in cases involving Family Court proceedings related to child custody or welfare, the court may also have an impact on educational decisions. Parents and guardians involved in these cases should seek expert legal advice to navigate the complexities of SENDIST and Family Court systems effectively.

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