Wherever possible we want to ensure issues and disagreements can be discussed and resolved at the earliest opportunity. This may be an informal chat with a teacher, social worker or health professional initially. Early Years providers, schools, post 16 education providers and other services will have their own published policies and guidance for addressing complaints and disagreements and the arrangements described below are not intended to replace these.
Disagreement resolution is the process for addressing issues about any aspect of SEND provision, including health and social care disagreements.
Local authorities are legally obliged to provide SEND 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. The child or young person does not have to be in the process of being assessed for an Education, Health and Care Plan, in order to access the disagreement resolution process. It is intended to provide a quick and non-adversarial way to resolve disagreements. Decisions relating to the assessment process or the educational provision or needs described in an EHC plan can also be appealed to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT).
This guide When People Can’t Agree – A Guide for Young People in Education is for young people on how to resolve special education needs and disability (SEND) disagreements. The guide for young people aged 16 to 25 is useful if you want to know who to talk to if you are unhappy with the help you are getting for your special educational needs or disability at your post 16 education provider.
From the 1 September 2014, a parent or young person wishing to appeal to the Tribunal process about the education elements of EHC assessments and plans will need to obtain a certificate to demonstrate that they have at least considered mediation before the tribunal will accept their appeal. The certificate will be issued by a mediation adviser, who can provide support and guidance to you about what can be appealed at tribunal and how mediation can be accessed.
If the appeal is solely about the name of the school, post 16 education provider or other institution named in the EHC plan, or the type of school, post 16 education provider or other institution specified in the plan, or the fact that no school or other institution is name you do not have to contact the mediation adviser prior to registering an appeal with the tribunal. Mediation advice is also not required where the disagreement is in relation to a disability discrimination claim.
Global Mediation delivers mediation advice and independent disagreement resolution and mediation across the East Midlands region. Their services are free of charge to users and can be accessed by telephoning 0800 064 4488. Global Mediation is able to provide neutral and independent advice on the mediation process and offers disagreement resolution and mediation, if required.
Once you have received mediation advice, it is your decision whether you want to try mediation before making any appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.
If you do not want to try mediation, then the mediation adviser will, within 3 working days, issue you with a certificate which you will need for the tribunal process.
The SEND Code of Practice makes it clear that people and young people will not be disadvantaged at the tribunal if they have chosen not to proceed with mediation.
For support along the mediation and appeals process, your local Derby SENDIASS can help you.