SEND Code of Practice 0 - 25 years January 2015
Most disagreements about special educational provision can be sorted out by talking with the early years setting, school, college or local authority. If you need help with this you can contact the SEND Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) who offer impartial information and advice to parents and young people.
However it can sometimes be difficult to reach agreement. For this reason every local authority must make arrangements for both disagreement resolution and mediation services (see SEND Code of Practice Chapter 11). These services are available to parents of children with special educational needs and to young people with special educational needs. The services are free and confidential and are independent of the local authority and Clinical Commissioning Group.
Disagreement resolution aims to resolve disagreements in a quick and informal way, using a trained and independent mediator to help the parties find a solution.
The use of disagreement resolution services is voluntary and has to be with the agreement of all parties.
This service is available to help resolve disagreements about:
how the early years setting, school, college or local authority is carrying out its education, health and care duties for children and young people with special educational needs. This can include any of the SEN duties – not just those concerning EHC needs assessments or EHC plans.
the provision that the early years setting, school, or college is making. This applies to children and young people with any kind of SEND, not just those going through an EHC needs assessment or with an EHC plan.
the health or social care provision during an EHC needs assessment, while EHC plans are being drawn up or reviewed, while awaiting an appeal or when children or young people are being reassessed. In these cases the disagreement will be with the local authority or Clinical Commissioning Group, rather than the early years setting, school, or college.
Mediation is a voluntary process for parents and young people, which can be used if agreement cannot be reached about matters related to EHC plans. It is provided by a trained and accredited mediator who is independent of the local authority and Clinical Commissioning Group.
Mediation is available to parents or young people if there is a disagreement about the local authority's decision:
not to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assessment
not to draw up an EHC plan after an EHC needs assessment has been done
not to amend and EHC plan after an annual review or re-assessment
to cease to maintain an EHC plan.
Mediation must also be available if parents or young people disagree with:
the parts of the EHC plan that describe the child or young person's special educational needs
the special educational provision set out in the EHC plan
the health and social care elements of an EHC plan.
A request for mediation must be made within 2 months of the date of the decision notice by the local authority.
Parents and young people can also register an appeal to the SEND Tribunal about the matters listed above. This is an independent first-tier tribunal who hear and decide parents' or young peoples' appeals against the decisions of the local authority in relation to special educational needs.
In order to register an appeal you must first contact an independent mediation adviser and obtain a certificate to show that you have done so. The mediation adviser will provide you with factual information, explain what is involved and answer any questions you may have about mediation.
Once you have contacted the mediation adviser you can choose whether you wish to go to mediation or not. You will need a certificate from the mediation adviser before you can register your appeal with the SEND Tribunal.
There are some circumstances in which you do not need to have a certificate from a mediation adviser before you register an appeal with the SEND Tribunal. This is the case if the appeal is solely about the name of the school, college or other institution named on the EHC plan, the type of school, college or other institution specified in the plan or the fact that no school or other institution is named. In addition you do not need to seek mediation advice if the appeal is solely about the health and social care elements of an EHC plan.