Wherever possible we want to enable issues and disagreements to be discussed and resolved at the earliest opportunity. This may be an informal chat with a teacher, social worker or health professional initially. Schools, colleges and services will have their own published policies and/or guidance for addressing complaints and disagreements and the arrangements described below are not intended to replace these.
However it is recognised that there may be instances where a more formal opportunity for meeting and talking with those involved in supporting children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities, facilitated by an independent and neutral third party is required. Such discussions would include the parents and carers but may also involve the children and young people themselves, as appropriate.
This guidance sets out two slightly different processes depending on the nature of the issue/disagreement, in line with the SEN Code of Practice.
Disagreement Resolution is the process for exploring and addressing issues about any aspect of SEN provision, including health and social care disagreements. The child or young person does not have to have or 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.
Two providers were successful in tendering to deliver Disagreement Resolution Services (DRS) across the East Midlands. They are KIDS and The Together Trust. You can find out more about their respective Disagreement Resolution Services by visiting their websites:
The Together Trust – www.togethertrust.org.uk/disagreement-resolution
by calling them:
KIDS – tel: 03330 062 835
The Together Trust – 0161 283 4836
or completing the on-line form:
KIDS have also produced a leaflet which can be downloaded from this web page.
In contrast Mediation Services are specifically focused on issues and disagreements relating to Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans. This includes where a request has been made for an assessment for an EHC Plan and that request has been turned down by the Local Authority. Decisions relating to the assessment process or the educational provision or needs described in an EHC Plan can be appealed to the First Tier Tribunal. (Please see the link to downloadable guidance about the First Tier Tribunal and lodging an appeal on the right of this page).
Obtaining Mediation Advice
From the 1 September 2014 a parent or young person wishing to appeal to the First Tier Tribunal 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. This certificate will be issued by a Mediation Adviser, who can provide support and guidance to you about what can be appealed to tribunal, how mediation can be accessed and who the appointed mediators are for the East Midlands.
You do not have to contact the mediation adviser prior to registering an appeal with the Tribunal, if the appeal is solely about the name of the school/college/other institution named in the EHC Plan, or the type of school/college/other institution specified in the plan, or the fact that no school or other institution is named.
Mediation advice is also not required where the disagreement is in relation to a disability discrimination claim. (Please see the downloadable guidance on this page for further information about disability discrimination claims).
Following a tendering process Global Mediation Ltd was appointed to provide Mediation Advice across the East Midlands region. This service is free of charge to users and can be accessed via the following Freephone number – 0800 064 4488.
Global Mediation Ltd is a separate organisation from the providers of mediation services in the East Midlands and is therefore able to provide neutral and independent advice on the mediation process and refer you to a mediation provider, if appropriate.
Deciding whether to go to mediation or make an appeal to the Tribunal
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.
Global Mediation will give you further information about the providers who successfully tendered to offer mediation services for the East Midlands. If you decide to proceed with mediation they will refer your details onto your chosen provider so that you don’t have to give the same information all over again.
If do not want to try mediation, then the Mediation Adviser will issue to you, within 3 working days a certificate which you will need to send to the Tribunal, if you wish to register an appeal.
The SEN 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.
Appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal
Feedback from parents across the region indicated that they wanted a choice of provider when it came to mediation. As a consequence a tendering exercise was conducted on behalf of the 9 local authorities in the East Midlands. The opportunity to tender was advertised nationally and across the EU and a total of 6 providers applied. These tender bids were evaluated against a number of criteria including amongst other things: experience in delivering such services; training and safeguarding arrangements; and value-for-money. In total 2 providers were successful in being awarded contracts to deliver both disagreement resolution and mediation services – KIDS and The Together Trust, whilst a 3rd provider – Global Mediation (see above) were awarded the contract to deliver independent mediation advice.
In order to progress an appeal (except where this about the name or the type of placement – see above) or if you wish to consider mediation please contact Global Mediation on 0800 064 4488, to ensure that you receive impartial mediation advice first.
At present it is not possible to appeal to the Tribunal about matters which specifically relate to the health and social care elements of an EHC Plan (unless that provision educates or trains a child or young person, in which case it would be treated as special educational provision). However it is still possible to go to mediation on the health and social care elements of the EHC Plan.
If you wish to proceed with mediation please do not contact KIDS or The Together Trust directly. If you do contact KIDS or The Together Trust regarding a mediation matter without obtaining mediation advice first, these providers have been advised to refer the matter back to Global Mediation Ltd.