Skip to content

We use cookies to make the site simpler. By continuing to use this site and closing this message you agree to our use of cookies.Find out more about cookies

Close alert

Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice, including help if you are struggling financially

SEN panels and decision-making processes

Our 0 to 25 SEND Assessment Team has 3 decision-making panels or processes. These are:

What the SEND Panel is

Our SEND Panel is the group that will consider your request for any of the following:

  • a needs assessment for an EHC plan
  • an EHC plan
  • a change of educational placement or level of support
  • a personal budget

SEND Panels also consider requests for young people in year 11 or above for:

  • post 16 placements for young people aged 16 to 18 years
  • further education or training placements for young people aged 19 or over
  • an existing post 16 placement to continue

When the SEND Panels take place

The SEND Panels take place once a week during term time. 

Who attends the SEND Panel meetings

The people who attend the panels are from:

  • the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Team; they act as the meeting chair
  • the Educational Psychology (EP) Service
  • the Specialist Teaching and Advice Service
  • local special schools
  • local mainstream schools

The people who attend panel meetings that consider post 16 cases are from:

  • the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Team; they act as the meeting chair
  • Children's Services Social Care
  • Adult Services Social Care
  • Ansbury Careers
  • the Educational Psychology Service
  • the Specialist Teaching and Advice Service
  • local further education providers
  • local special school providers

Every panel must have someone from the Educational Psychology Team and the SEN leadership team attend.

A range of other professionals can attend panel meetings if they want to.

What happens at SEND Panel meetings

We share information with members of the SEND Panel a week before the meeting. This is so that they can read through everything and prepare for the meeting. 

The information considered by the panel will vary depending on the request, but can include:

  • information from the parent or carer
  • the views of the child or young person themselves
  • the request for a needs assessment for an EHC plan
  • professional advice
  • the EHC plan
  • the review of an EHC plan
  • information about the purpose and cost of the personal budget

The SEND Panel considers every request on an individual basis. It makes decisions based on the evidence provided and against the criteria set out in the SEND Code of Practice, 2015.

The Chair of the SEND Panel notes down the points of discussion and any decisions they make. These notes provide the feedback they give to you following the panel meeting. 

How you can share your views as a child, young person or family

Parents, children and young people don't attend the SEND Panel meetings, but you are an important part of our decision making. 

You can provide your views:

  • during a needs assessment for an EHC plan
  • as part of the review for an EHC plan process
  • by contacting the SEND Team at any time to share information you want to be considered by the SEND Panel

What happens after the SEND Panel meeting

After the SEND Panel meeting, the Chair of the meeting sends the panel notes and decisions to a member of our Senior Leadership Team (SLT) for their approval.

How you find out the SEND Panel decision

Once the SLT has approved or declined our decision we will contact you by phone or email within 48 hours. We will then send you a letter to confirm the decision. 

If the SEND Panel can't make a decision

The SEND Panel is not always able to make a decision. This can be because:

  • they don't have all the information they need
  • the panel members can't agree on a decision. If this happens then a senior manager in the 0 to 25 SEND Assessment Team will decide what the next steps will be 

Contact the 0 to 25 SEND Assessment Team if you'd like to see the terms of reference for the SEND Panels. 

Admission Advisory meetings

Admissions Advisory meetings manage places at special schools and specialist placements funded by us, the local authority. These are called maintained schools and placements. 

Admissions Advisory meetings take place once a term.

For example, you might request for your child to move from a mainstream school to a maintained specialist placement (at a maintained special school or other provider). This request could be for a place at:

  • a special school like:
    • Yewstock School
    • Beaucroft School
    • Mountjoy School
    • Westfield School
    • Wyvern School
  • a complex communication needs (CCN) base
  • a social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs unit

The SEND Panel will consider your request and decide if a specialist placement could be appropriate to meet your child's needs. 

If the SEND Panel agrees that a specialist placement could be right for your child, the next Admissions Advisory meeting will consider your request. 

What happens at Admissions Advisory meetings

A week before the Admissions Advisory meeting we will share all the relevant information and evidence with the people who attend so that they can prepare. The information they consider at the meeting is the same as for the SEND Panel meetings. 

The people who attend the meeting are:

  • a manager from the 0 to 25 SEND Assessment Team 
  • the head teacher or manager of the specialist placement being considered 

For example, if your request is for a place at Yewstock Special School, this is what would happen:

  1. Your request is considered by the SEND Panel to decide if Yewstock School could be appropriate for your child.
  2. If the SEND Panel agree that Yewstock School may be able to meet your child's needs, your request will then be considered at the next termly Admissions Advisory meeting for Yewstock School.
  3. A SEND manager and the head teacher for Yewstock School will be at the meeting.

The Admissions Advisory meeting considers every request individually to decide if:

  • the requested placement can meet your child's needs
  • there will be other children of a similar age, need and ability at the placement
  • a place is available

Spaces at special schools and placements are in great demand. Even if the requested placement is appropriate there may not be a place available. If this happens we will contact you to discuss what options are available.

The outcome of the Admissions Advisory meeting

The 0 to 25 SEND Assessment Team will contact you within 48 hours of the Admissions Advisory meeting to tell you the outcome. We will do this up by phone or email. We will then send you a letter to confirm the decision.

What the High Cost Panel is

The High Cost Panel considers requests for placements that cost more than £50,000 per year. These placements are often at independent schools or colleges.

The High Cost Panel meets once a fortnight. 

For example you may request for your child to move from a mainstream school or a maintained special school to go to an independent special school or college. This could be:

  • from Thomas Hardye School (a mainstream school) to go to Coxlease School (an independent special school), or 
  • from Yewstock School (a maintained special school) to go to Lufton College (an independent specialist college)

The first step is for the SEND Panel to consider the request to decide if the change in placement may be appropriate for your child. 

If the SEND Panel agrees that the requested placement may be appropriate and it costs more than £50,000 a year, the High Cost Panel will consider your request at their next meeting.

Who attends the High Cost Panel meetings

The following people usually attend the High Cost Panel meetings:

  • the Assistant Director of Children's Services
  • Head of SEND Services
  • the SEND Team Manager
  • the relevant SEND Planning Coordinator and team leaders
  • the Independent Specialist Placement team

The information the High Cost Panel consider is:

  • the EHC plan
  • parental or carer views
  • the child or young person's views
  • the latest review paperwork
  • information regarding the requested placement including:
    • any assessments undertaken
    • the support that will be provided and costs
    • travel information and costs
  • other options or placements that have been considered including:
    • any assessments undertaken
    • the support that will be provided and costs
    • travel information and costs

How the High Cost Panel reaches decisions

The High Cost Panel makes decisions based on:

  • the evidence provided 
  • the criteria in the SEND Code of Practice 2015
  • the efficient use of resources

Contact the 0 to 25 special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) Assessment Team

Email: senteam@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk
Tel: 01305224895
Full contact details for Contact the 0 to 25 special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) Assessment Team

Your feedback

This form is to report content that is wrong, or any issues or feedback you have about the web page.

Contact us if you want to get in touch about a council service instead.

All fields are required.

Leave your email address so that we can provide a response.

This helps us direct your feedback to the appropriate council.

General data protection regulation (GDPR)

We will only use the personal information supplied by you in accordance with GDPR. By giving us this information you are consenting to such use as set out in our privacy notice.