Making a compliment or complaint about SEND services

Man writing on notepad

If you are unhappy with something it is advisable to begin by speaking to someone about it, in person or by phone or email. In school or another educational setting this could be a teacher, the Head of Year or the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo). If it is about something to do with the local authority or health service you will have the name of the person you normally see or speak to and you can discuss it with them or ask to speak to their manager. In most situations this should resolve the situation.

It is possible to deal with a concern more formally without making a complaint. You can do this by writing or emailing your concerns to the service manager explaining you are not making a formal complaint but raising something with them that you would like them to investigate and get back to you about. By putting it in writing there is a record but it does not trigger the formal complaints process.

Raising a concern informally does not mean it should not be taken less seriously and going through the informal steps does not stop you going through the complaints process if you are still unhappy with the result.

Complaints/compliments about schools

If you are unhappy with something at your child’s school, talk to their class teacher, head of year, tutor or SENCO first, to try and sort the problem out as early as possible.

If you are not satisfied with the school’s response you can use their complaints procedure. Every school, further education and sixth form college must have a complaints policy. Check the school’s/college's website or ask for a copy. Further details can be found on Gov UK.

Complaints/compliments about health services

To make a complaint about a health service, please visit: 

Healthwatch Cambridgeshire

They can tell you how to complain about a health service provided through various local health providers.   

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) at each NHS Trust offers confidential advice, support and information on health-related matters. They provide a point of contact for patients, their families and their carers. For more information on PALS please visit:  

What is PALS page on the NHS website  

Find out more on our Complaints about Health Services page.

Complaints/compliments about council services

If you want to make a complaint about any other service you have received from Cambridgeshire County Council, you can find out how to do this on the Cambridgeshire County Council website:

Council Complaints Procedures

Complaints/compliments about voluntary organisations

To make a complaint about a voluntary organisation, please discuss this with the group leader/organiser.  If you are not satisfied with the outcome, and if the group is registered with charity commission, you could make contact with them 

You can visit the Charity Commission’s website. 

Dispute resolution

Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP)

If you are unhappy with a decision made by the local authority about your request for an EHCP, or the content of your son or daughter’s EHCP, you have the option to go to First Tier Tribunal (SEND) for an independent review of the decision.

Before going to Tribunal, you must speak with a Mediation provider. 

You are able appeal to the SEN Tribunal if the local authority:

  • Decides not to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assessment
  • Decides not to issue an EHC plan
  • Issues or amends an EHC plan but you disagree with any or all of the contents of Section B (special educational needs), Section F (special educational provision) or Section I (placement)
  • Decides not to amend an EHC plan
  • Decides to cease to maintain an EHC plan

Find out more on our Disputes and Mediation page.

Related Pages

  1. Education, Health and Care Plans
  2. SEND Quality Assurance
  3. Resolving disputes and mediation
  4. SEND Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS)

Related Services

  1. Healthwatch Cambridgeshire
  2. Pinpoint: Cambridgeshire Parent Carer Forum

External Links

  1. GOV.UK - Complain about a school
  2. Cambridgeshire council complaints procedures


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