Special Educational Needs and Disability
As a parent, the welfare of your children is of paramount importance.
For children with special education needs or ‘SEN’, disagreements about what course of action is in the best interests of the child and the one that most closely matches the child’s needs can often require the services of an experienced, independent mediator if no agreement can be reached.
Local Authorities are legally obliged to provide SEN mediation and disagreement resolution in relation to disputes between parents and carers and young people, schools and Local Authorities over your special education needs or, as a parent, those of your child.
We are an experienced provider of SEN mediation and disagreement resolution Services which will –
- improve the channels of communication and understanding between the parties
- progress towards and then reach realistic, practical solutions that meet the needs of all concerned, especially the child
- cause minimal disruption to the child’s education
Mediation is a confidential process (except in cases where there are child protection issues) and is conducted in a safe, neutral environment that allows for both parties to be listened to and understood. Our specialist SEN mediation team, all of whom have extensive training in and knowledge of the legislation and framework relating to SEN and health and social care, work closely with all concerned parties to achieve a fast, pragmatic and mutually-agreeable solution to all types of SEN disputes.
In accordance with the Children and Families Act 2014 and the associated SEN Code of Practice (January 2015), our service includes the provision of mediation advice, mediation services and disagreement resolution services. These services are free for parents, carers and young people.
Our Mediation Adviser provides parents, carers and young people with factual, unbiased information about mediation and will answer questions that you may have about the process.
You must have mediation advice in order to be able to register an Appeal with the Tribunal, except in a few specific circumstances. These exceptions are:
- if your Appeal is solely about the name of the school, college or other institution named on the plan, the type of school, college or other institution specified in the plan or the fact that no school or other institution is named
- if your Appeal relates solely to the health and social care elements of an EHC Plan
- if it is a disability discrimination claim
Once you have received mediation advice it is up to you to decide whether you want to go to mediation before any Appeal you might make to the Tribunal.
To receive mediation advice, contact our Mediation Adviser on 0800 064 4488 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you do not want to try mediation first, the Mediation Adviser will issue you with a certificate so that you can register your Appeal.
Your right to Appeal is not affected if you do not have mediation first and no inference will be drawn by the Tribunal if you have not used the mediation services.
If you do want to try mediation first, our SEN Case Manager will make all the arrangements for you. Mediation aims to help resolve disagreements for children and young people that are being Assessed for or have an EHC Plan.
Mediation is confidential and aims to resolve your disagreements in a quick, informal way using a neutral third party, a mediator, to help you reach a resolution that is mutually satisfactory.
The mediator does not judge or impose a solution but ensures that any settlement is agreed between you and the Local Authority or relevant body.
Mediation is completely flexible and without prejudice.
The mediation will be held in a neutral location within 30 days of the LA being told you would like mediation.
Our experienced mediators will explain the process to you and help clarify the nature of the disagreement with both parties. You can bring a supporter with you to the mediation although legal representation is not usually necessary.
After the mediation the Mediation Adviser will issue a certificate within three working days confirming that mediation has concluded and, if all your issues haven’t been resolved, you can use the certificate to register your Appeal with the Tribunal.
When cases are registered with the Tribunal following mediation, the Tribunal will deal with the Appeal on the facts of the case. The Tribunal may cover similar ground to that explored in the mediation but will reach its own independent findings and conclusions. Mediation is confidential and without prejudice to the Tribunal process and the Tribunal will disregard any offers or comments made during mediation. Partial agreement achieved by use of mediation services can help to focus on the remaining areas of disagreement in any subsequent appeals to the Tribunal.
To request mediation, contact our SEN Case Manager on 0800 064 4488 or email email@example.com
Disagreement Resolution arrangements
Our disagreement resolution service is available for parents of and all children and young people with SEN, not just those who are being Assessed for or have an EHC Plan. They are designed to resolve disagreements about any aspect of SEN provision, and health and social care disagreements during the processes related to EHC needs Assessments and EHC Plans.
Disagreement resolution meetings provide a quick and non-adversarial way of resolving disagreements.
Used early in the process of EHC needs Assessment and EHC Plan development they can prevent the need for mediation and Appeals to the Tribunal and offer an opportunity to look at things holistically to prevent issues escalating. Our experienced mediators will explain the process to you and help clarify the nature of the disagreement with both parties.
If the disagreement resolution meeting does not resolve all the issues, you can still Appeal to the Tribunal at a later date. If you do not use disagreement resolution services it has no effect on your right to appeal to the Tribunal and no inference will be drawn by the Tribunal if the parties to a disagreement have not used the disagreement resolution services.
Disagreement resolution meetings are confidential and without prejudice to the Tribunal process and the Tribunal will disregard any offers or comments made during them. Partial agreement achieved by use of disagreement resolution services can help to focus on the remaining areas of disagreement in any subsequent appeals to the Tribunal.
To request disagreement resolution, contact our SEN Case Manager on 0800 064 4488 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What should I do now?
I want independent information and advice about mediation before registering an Appeal:
Contact our Mediation Adviser on 0800 064 4488 or email email@example.com
I want to request mediation or a disagreement resolution meeting:
Contact our SEN Case Manager on 0800 064 4488 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m not sure what I need but I want to speak to someone in confidence to find out what my options are:
Contact our SEN Case Manager on 0800 064 4488 or email email@example.com
Each Local Authority must have its own independent Mediation and Disagreement Resolution Service.
We provide SEN Services in the following Local Authorities:
Bath & North East Somerset • Blackburn and Darwen • Bournemouth • Bracknell Forest • Brighton and Hove • Bristol • Bromley • Bury • Buckinghamshire • Cornwall • Derby City • Derbyshire • Devon • Dorset • East Sussex • Essex • Gloucestershire • Hampshire • Isles of Scilly • Kent • Lancashire • Lincolnshire • Manchester • Medway • Merton • Milton Keynes • Northamptonshire • North Somerset • Nottingham City • Nottinghamshire • Oxfordshire • Plymouth • Poole • Portsmouth • Reading • Redcar & Cleveland • Rutland • Salford • Sefton • Slough • Somerset • South Gloucestershire • Southampton • Southend • Surrey • Swindon • The Isle of Wight • Thurrock • Torbay • Warrington • West Berkshire • West Sussex • Wigan • Wiltshire • Windsor and Maidenhead • Wokingham