The education appeal committee hears and decides the outcome of appeals made by parents or young people on matters related to:

What is the education appeal committee? 

The committee is a panel of people who make decisions on certain educational matters when there is a disagreement between a parent and their child's school or local authority.

They look at the information that parents and the authority provide and decide how the disagreement might be settled.

The education appeal committee is set up and maintained by the local authority.

Appealing to the committee: when and how

When can an appeal to the committee be made?

If you have any concerns about your child's educational needs, discuss them with their school and, if necessary, the local authority. If your concerns can't be addressed this way, you may be able to appeal to the committee.

The committee can look at possible grounds for disagreement between you and your child's school or local authority. This could be that your child has been excluded from school. Alternatively, you may have had a placing request for a mainstream school refused and:

  • your child does not have a co-ordinated support plan (CSP) 
  • the authority is not in the process of preparing a CSP for your child or determining whether your child needs one. 

How do I make an appeal to the committee?

You must send a letter to your local authority telling them that you wish to appeal their decision to refuse your placing request or exclude your child from school.

This should include:

  • your name and address
  • your child's name and address
  • details of your disagreement and the local authority concerned
  • your views on the issue
  • a copy of any letter(s) you received from the authority that led to the disagreement, such as a letter telling you that your child has been excluded or that your placing request had been turned down 
  • copies of any other documents or information that will help to put your views across.

You can send all the information you want the panel to look at in the same letter or if you need more time you can send off basic details and then forward the rest of your supporting information at a later date. You must make sure that all your information is with the committee at least 10 days before the date of your hearing.

Our Education Rights Service can help with preparing your appeal letter.

Is there a deadline for appealing?

You have 28 days after your placing request has been refused to send your appeal letter to your local authority. This starts from the date you received the refusal letter. 

There is no deadline for appealing an exclusion, but you may want to send your appeal letter as soon as possible to try and get the matter resolved quickly.  

You can contact your local authority directly for more details on deadlines and what to do if you have missed one.  

There are also important timescales once the appeal process has begun.

What happens to my appeal?

When the education appeal committee receives your appeal, they will:

  • send you an acknowledgement and let the authority know within five working days
  • let you and the authority know of the hearing date, time and place within two weeks.

They will also advise you of your right to:

  • represent yourself at the hearing or have someone else represent you
  • take people to the hearing with you, such as a representative or supporter
  • send a written statement in support of your appeal.

A clerk will normally liaise with you and the authority about your appeal and the hearing. They can answer any questions you have.

You may have already have sent the committee all the information in support of your appeal with your appeal letter. If you are preparing a written statement of your case or providing more evidence, you must make sure that it is with the committee at least 10 days before the hearing.

Will the local authority be able to present their views?

The local authority will send a copy of their decision relating to your appeal and any other relevant information about your disagreement to the education appeal committee. They must do this 10 days before the hearing.

Who will the committee panel be?

The education appeal committee is made up of three, five or seven people who have been appointed by the local authority, this will include a chairperson. The panel members will normally include local Councillors and parents. It won’t include anyone who has been involved in the matter or school concerned.

What will happen at the hearing?

The hearing will take place within 28 days of the education appeal committee receiving your appeal.

At the hearing you will be given the chance to put your views across, call witnesses, ask the authority's witnesses questions and address the committee panel.

Before the hearing the clerk may ask you to give details of people you will be bringing to the hearing with you. This could be:

  • someone to support you, such as a friend, relative, befriender or professional. These people are not usually able to take part in the hearing
  • a representative or advocate who will conduct the hearing on your behalf 
  • witnesses to give evidence to support your case.

Most hearings last a half or full day, although some can go on for longer, depending on the nature and complexity of the appeal. The hearing will normally take place in at a local authority venue within the authority area. 

About the committee's decision and the appeal process

How will the committee reach a decision?

The education appeal committee panel will look at the information you and the authority have provided and any other factors presented at the hearing.

Once the committee reaches a decision, they will write to you and the authority with the details of their decision. You should receive the decision within two weeks of the hearing. If the committee reaches a decision on the day of the hearing, they may tell you and the authority what it is. 

If your local authority excluded your child the committee may agree with their decision. They may also change the conditions for re-admitting your child to school.

Alternatively, the committee may overturn the exclusion. If this happens your child can return to school (if they haven't already). The time your child was absent from school as a result of the exclusion will be recorded as an ‘authorised absence’ and details of it cannot be disclosed to other agencies. 

If you appealed against an authority's decision to turn down your placing request, the committee can agree with the refusal or they can overturn it and tell the authority to place your child at your preferred choice of school.

What happens if I disagree with the committee's decision?

If you appealed against an authority's decision to turn down your placing request, you can't do so again for another year.

For both placing request and exclusion appeals you have 28 days from the date of the committee's decision to appeal to the Sheriff Court.

If the education appeal committee agreed with the local authority’s decision to refuse your placing request you can appeal to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal for Scotland if within 28 days of the committee’s decision:

  • a co-ordinated Support Plan (CSP) is prepared for your child or the authority have agreed that your child needs one
  • the authority is establishing whether your child needs a CSP
  • the authority has refused your request for a CSP and you have appealed this decision to the tribunal.

Read more about Co-ordinated Support Plans and the Additional Support Needs Tribunal

What happens if the authority doesn't follow the committee's decision?

The local authority must follow the committee's decision. If they don't, you can contact the panel members directly and/or make a complaint to the Scottish Ministers.

How long does the appeal process take?

The process may take several weeks. Read a summary of the timescales involved.

The down-pointing arrows - down button - indicate the next parts of the process.

 If a disagreement arises    If a local authority refuses your placing request refusal, you have 28 days to appeal.  There is no time limit for appealing your child’s exclusion from school.
down button    down button 
Acknowledging your appeal   The committee will send you an acknowledgement and notify the authority of your appeal within five working days of receiving it.
 down button    down button
Setting a date   A hearing will take place within 28 days of the committee receiving your appeal.
Within two weeks of receiving your appeal, the committee will notify you and the authority of the hearing date, time and place.
 down button    down button
Providing written information   You and the authority must provide any written information in support of the appeal to the committee 10 days before hearing. The information you send will depend on what you are appealing.
 down button    down button
Hearing   Most hearings can last up to a day, although some can go on for longer. This will depend on the nature and content of your appeal.
 down button    down button
Decision   A decision may sometimes be given at the end of the hearing. The committee in any case should write to you with their decision within 2 weeks.
 down button    down button
Further appeal   If you are not happy with the committee's decision, you will have 28 days to appeal to the Sherriff Court. In limited cases, you may be able to appeal a placing request refusal to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal.

Further help from our charity

The National Autistic Society’s Education Rights Service can provide information, support and advice on educational provision and entitlements for children and young people on the autism spectrum.

Useful reading

Supporting children's learning: code of practice. Scottish Government (2010).

Autism toolbox. A resource for Scottish schools. Scottish Government.

Included, engaged and involved part 2: a positive approach to managing school exclusions. Scottish Government (2011).

Last reviewed 23 May 2016.