Mediation and disagreement resolution

If we decide not to assess or make special educational provision in accordance with an EHC plan we will send you a letter with a summary telling you why. You have the right to appeal this decision through a SEND tribunal, but steps must be taken before any appeal is started. While ‘disagreement resolution’ and ‘mediation’ are often used interchangeably, under the Children and Families Act 2014 they refer to different processes.

  • Decisions about the SEN provision for children and young people with SEND should be made jointly by providers, parents and carers and children and young people. A person-centred approach should take into account the views of children, young people and parents and carers.
  • The education, health and social care services should be open in their communication, so that parents and young people know where they are in the decision-making process and why decisions have been made.
  • Parents and children should be given information about and (where necessary) be supported to take part in the decision-making and complaints processes.
  • All schools and education settings will have a complaints policy that can be provided on request.

Single Route of Redress – National Trial

The Government are extending the powers of the First-tier Tribunal (SEND), sometimes referred to as the ‘SEND Tribunal’, to make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans as part of a two-year trial from April 2018. The trial will apply to decisions made or EHC plans issued or amended from 3 April 2018. More detailed information is on the Local Offer.

What to do if you are unhappy with a decision

Please ring and arrange to speak to one of our SEN Officers if you disagree with the decisions.

The following bodies can offer independent advice to help you with the resolution of your problem:

Disagreement resolution is the process for exploring and addressing issues about any aspect of a child's SEN provision, including health and social care disagreements.

It is intended to provide a quick and non-adversarial way to resolve disagreements. They are confidential and do not affect the outcome of any tribunal hearing.

The disagreement resolution service must be independent of the local authority – no-one who is directly employed by a local authority can provide disagreement resolution services.

Do parents and young people have to engage with the service?

Use of the disagreement resolution services is voluntary and has to be with the agreement of all parties. You can find contact details for disagreement resolutions services above.

Parents and young people do not have to engage with the disagreement resolution before registering a SEND tribunal appeal.

What can the disagreement resolution service help with?

The disagreement resolution service can help resolve 4 types of disagreement or to prevent them from escalating further:

​Disagreement between ​Type of disagreement
​Parents or young people

​Local authorities,
governing bodies (excluding academies), early years providers, further education institutions, academy owners

​How these authorities, bodies or proprietors are carrying out their education, health and care duties for children and young people with SEN, whether they have EHC plans or not.

These include duties on the local authority to keep their education and care provision under review, the duties to assess needs and draw up EHC plans and the duty on governing bodies and proprietors to use their best endeavours to meet children and young people’s SEN

​Parents or young people​Early years providers, schools or post-16 institutions​The special educational provision made for a child or young person, whether they have EHC plans or not
​Parents or young people​Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) or local authorities

​Health or social care provision during EHC needs assessments, while EHC plans are being drawn up, reviewed or when children or young people are being reassessed.

Service can also be used to resolve disagreements over special educational provision throughout assessments, the drawing up of EHC plans, while waiting for tribunal appeals and at review or during reassessments

​Local authorities​Health commissioning bodies​During EHC needs assessments or reassessments, the drawing up of EHC plans or reviews of those plans for children and young people with SEN. In relation to EHC plans, this includes the description of the child or young person’s education, health and care needs and any education, health and care provision set out in the plan.

When can the service be used?

Disagreement resolution services can be used at any time, if both parties agree, including while an EHC needs assessment is being conducted, while the plan is being drawn up, after the plan is finalised or while an appeal is going through the Tribunal process.

Parents and young people who wish to make a SEND tribunal appeal may do so only after they have contacted an independent mediation adviser and discussed whether mediation might be a suitable way of resolving the disagreement.

Mediation arrangements are specifically linked to decisions about EHC needs assessments and plans.

If parents or young people want it to, mediation can take place following decisions by a local authority:

  • not to carry out an EHC needs assessment
  • not to draw up an EHC plan, after they receive a final EHC plan or amended plan
  • not to amend an EHC plan or a decision to cease to maintain an EHC plan

These mediation arrangements complement the disagreement resolution arrangements.

If it is decided by the parents or young person that they wish to proceed with mediation, the local authority must ensure that this takes place within 30 days of being informed by the advisor of this intention. The local authority must attend. Parents and young people will not be charged for it.

If the parent or young person is considering registering an appeal and has contacted the mediation adviser, the adviser will provide information on mediation and answer any questions which the parent or young person may have. The information will normally be provided on the telephone, although information can be provided in written form, through face-to-face meetings or through other means if the parent or young person prefers.

Mediation certificate

Parents or young people wishing to appeal to the SEND 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
  • who the appointed mediators are for the East Midlands

The certificate is usually emailed to the parents, carers or young person within 3 working days and will enable them to lodge their appeal.

How do I contact a mediation advisor?

Parents and carers should contact the approved mediation provider for the East Midlands - Global Mediation.

You can request a call back and a Mediation Adviser will contact you to discuss the case.

This is the final stage of resolution and should be used only when all other avenues for resolution have been explored unsuccessfully.

Any appeal to the SEND tribunal must be lodged within 1 month from receiving the mediation certificate or 2 months from the original decision, whichever is the later.

Partial agreement achieved through mediation can help to focus any subsequent appeals to the Tribunal on any remaining areas of disagreement.

Appeals can be made via GOV.UK

Make an appeal