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Raising disputes and complaints

What do I do if my SEND Officer does not answer my calls or respond to emails?

If you are trying to contact your SEND officer, and they don’t respond within 48 hours, you can escalate to their team leader. If THEY don’t respond within 48 hours you escalate to Eva Gunkova, the Assistant Director of SEND.

Read the Guide for young people 16 to 25: When people can't agree.

How do I make a formal complaint about a council service?

To complain about a council service, fill out a form on our website: Contact Us - Waltham Forest

Council complaints process

When you log your complaint through the online portal, please follow the registration process to create an account.  If you choose to log your complaint without registering your details, we might not be able to process your complaint or issue a response, and you will not be able to track the case.


We send an acknowledgement to you within three working days of receiving your complaint. This applies to all complaints.

Stage 1 - Responding to your complaint

We will send a response within 20 working days from receiving your complaint.

Responses to statutory social services complaints in relation to children’s services are issued within 10 working days.

Escalating your complaint to stage 2

If you're unhappy with the first response to your complaint, then you can escalate this to a stage 2 complaint using the complaints online form.

When you complete the form, please tell us that it’s a stage 2 complaint and provide the reference number of the original Stage 1 complaint. This will speed up the process of logging and acknowledging your complaint.

Stage 2 complaints are investigated by the Council’s corporate Complaints Team on behalf of the Council’s Chief Executive.  The Council has 25 working days to respond to Stage 2 complaints.

Please note:

There is no Stage 2 escalation process for Statutory Social Services complaints about Adult Social Care. When the Stage 1 process is completed, you can escalate your complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO)

If you remain dissatisfied with the council’s response after completing the corporate or statutory complaint procedures, you will have the right to escalate your complaint to the Ombudsman.

How do I make a complaint about a school?

If you want to complain about a school’s SEN support, you should do it while your child is still registered at the school.

This includes complaints that the school has not provided the support required by your child’s education, health and care (EHC) plan.

Make a complaint.

Follow these steps in order. Move on to the next step if your complaint is not resolved.

  • Talk to the school’s special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO).
  • Follow the school’s complaints procedure.
  • Complain to your local authority.

Complain to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) instead of the local authority if both the following apply:

  • the school is an academy or free school
  • your complaint is not about an SEN statement or an EHC plan

What if I want to appeal a decision made about my child’s Education, Health and Care Plan: Mediation and Tribunal  

Before you appeal a decision:

  • You must consider mediation before you appeal to the tribunal. Mediation is a less formal way of working out a solution to your problem.
  • The local authority will have sent you a letter giving their decision about the Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. The letter will tell you how to contact a mediation service.
  • A mediation adviser will explain how mediation works. If you want to go ahead, they will bring you and the local authority together to discuss the problem.
  • At the end they will give you a mediation certificate, which you will need if you still want to appeal.
  • If you do not want mediation, you still need to contact the mediation service to get a mediation certificate so that you can appeal.

First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) (the “SEND Tribunal”)

The tribunal is responsible for handling appeals against Local Authority decisions regarding special   educational needs.

You can bring an appeal to the SEND Tribunal if the Local Authority:

  • refuses to carry out an EHC needs assessment or a re-assessment.
  • refuses to issue an EHC Plan.
  • issues or amends an EHC Plan but you disagree with any or all of Section B (special educational needs), Section F (special educational provision) or Section I (placement).
  • decides not to amend an EHC Plan after an annual review.
  • decides to cease to maintain the EHC Plan at any point.

Note: From April 2018, parents and young people have also had the right to appeal against the health and social care sections of the plan (Sections C, D, G and H).

More information about the SEND First Tier tribunal

For more information, please see

What do I do if I have a complaint about a GP, Hospital, Dentist, Pharmacist, or other National Health Service (NHS) service?

You should complain to the person or organisation providing the service first, such as the GP, dentist, hospital, pharmacist, or provider such as NELFT.

Alternatively, you can complain to the commissioner of that service – either NHS England or the area clinical commissioning group (CCG).

Many service providers have feedback forms available on their premises or websites. Sometimes the NHS will ask for your feedback.

If you're unhappy with an NHS service, it's often worthwhile discussing your concerns early on with the provider of the service, as they may be able to sort the issue out quickly.

Most problems can be dealt with at this stage, but in some cases, you may feel more comfortable speaking to someone not directly involved in your care.

How can the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) help?

Many issues can be resolved quickly by speaking directly to the staff at the place where you received care or accessed a service.

Some people find it helpful to talk to someone who understands the complaints process first and get some guidance and support.

You'll find a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) in most hospitals.

You can speak with a PALS member, who'll try to help you resolve issues informally with the hospital before you need to make a complaint.

PALS can be particularly helpful if your issue is urgent and you need action immediately, such as a problem with the treatment or care you receive while in hospital.

Can I get help with my health complaint?

If you're making, or thinking about making, a complaint, someone from the independent NHS Complaints Advocacy Service can help you.

An advocate will also be able to attend meetings with you and review any information you're given during the complaints process.

You can seek advice from an NHS complaint advocate at any stage of the process. If you decide you need some support, it's never too late to ask for help.

How can I make a health complaint?

You can make a complaint in writing, by email, over the telephone or in person. Your complaint should be made as soon as possible (and should ideally be within a year of the event.) You can make a complaint on your own or on behalf of someone else if you have their permission.

Who should I contact with my complaint?

For complaints about Whipps Cross Hospital or a Barts Health NHS Trust Service, please visit Barts' complaint section.

For complaints in relation to (NELFT) North East London Foundation Trust (including phlebotomy services within the borough), NELFT’s complaints leaflet can be downloaded from their website.

For complaints about the service received from a GP, dentist, pharmacist or optometrist:

Contact the service directly or the NHS England Customer Contact Centre on:

Tel: 0300 311 22 33 (this is charged as a local rate call)


Address: NHS England, PO Box 16738, Redditch, B97 9PT


SENDIASS and disagreements

ENDIASS can support you in managing mediation, disagreement resolution and complaints that support you and your child or young person. 

It provides:

  • Support around the legal framework for Educational Health and Care Plans
  • Support around education placement choices
  • Disagreement resolution and tribunals

SENDIASS and Partnership work

SENDIASS works with the Waltham Forest Parent’s Forum and education settings to support children and young people in interpreting the SEND code of practice.

SENDIASS has an interface with the Local Authority, in that they provide:

  • feedback on parents' views and experiences of the service
  • themes and trends that emerging through interaction with parents and carers