Local Authorities are legally obliged to provide SEN mediation and disagreement resolution in relation to disputes with parents, carers and young people.
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
Mediation is a confidential process (unless there are child protection issues) and is conducted in a safe, neutral environment that allows for both parties to be heard 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.
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. Mediation aims to help resolve disagreements for children and young people that are being assessed for or have an Education Health and Care Plan.
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.
If you want to register an Appeal with the Tribunal, you must first receive mediation advice (there are some exceptions to this). You can then decide whether to lodge an appeal with the Tribunal or try to resolve the disagreement first by going to a mediation.
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.
If you do want to try mediation first, our SEN Case Manager will make all the arrangements for you, setting up the mediation in a neutral location within 30 days of the Local Authority being informed of your decision to mediate.
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. The mediator does not judge or impose a solution but ensures that any settlement is agreed between you and the Local Authority. 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. As Mediation is confidential and without prejudice to the Tribunal process, 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.
Disagreement Resolution arrangements
Our disagreement resolution service is available for parents of all children and young people with SEN, not just those who are being assessed for or have an Education Health and Care Plan. It is 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 is a quick and non-adversarial way of preventing issues from escalating and resolving them. Our experienced mediators will explain the process to you.
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.
Disagreement resolution meetings are confidential and without prejudice to the Tribunal process and the Tribunal will disregard any offers or comments made during them.