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Resolving disagreements and mediation

If you are unhappy with the way your child’s special educational needs are being met by his or her nursery, school or setting, we recommend that you first talk with their teacher, SENCO or head teacher. This is often the quickest and easiest way to resolve a problem.

If you are not satisfied with their response you can then contact the Education and Early Years team who will work with you and the school to find a solution.

If you are still dissatisfied you should contact a disagreement resolution or mediation service.

Disagreement resolution and mediation meetings aim to resolve your disagreements in a quick, informal way using a neutral third party to help you reach a resolution that is mutually satisfactory.

They are designed to resolve disagreements about:

  • Performance of duties
  • SEN provision
  • Disagreements over health and social care provision
  • Disagreements between health commissioners and local authorities.

Used early, disagreement resolution can really assist parents and young people, avoiding unnecessary stress and expense.

The City of London Corporation uses Kids SEN Disagreement Resolution and Mediation services.

NB: You can access more Information, Advice and Support about these processes here from the Tower Hamlets Information and Advice Support Service (IASS).

Appealing a decision about your child’s EHC plan

If you are unhappy with your child’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC), you have the right to appeal the decision to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal.

However, before you appeal please contact with the Education and Early Years team to see if we can resolve the issue.

If we can’t and you decide to appeal, you are required by law to first contact an independent mediation adviser. The mediator will review your case and discuss with you whether mediation is a suitable way to resolve the issue. They will then issue you a certificate to demonstrate that you have, or have not, sought to resolve your issue through mediation.

The City of London Corporation uses Kids SEN Disagreement Resolution and Mediation services.

You must send your appeal within two months of the date on your decision letter or a month from the date of the mediation certificate - whichever is later.

NB: You don’t have to use mediation if your appeal is only about the:

  • school, college or setting named on the plan
  • type of the school, college or setting specified on the plan
  • fact that no school or setting has been named

What decisions can be appealed?

You can appeal to the tribunal if the City of London has

  • refused to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assessment
  • not issued an EHC plan following an assessment
  • issued an EHC plan and you do not agree with the content
  • refused to amend an EHC plan following a review or re-assessment
  • decided to cease to maintain an EHC plan

You can also appeal to the tribunal if you are claiming disability discrimination against a school or City of London.

Before you appeal a decision you must be able to show that you have contacted a mediation service. You will be asked to produce a copy of a certificate at the SEND Tribunal which will be given to you to demonstrate that you have, or have not, sought to resolve your issue through mediation.

You can find out how to appeal on the Gov.UK website.

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal – National Trial

What is the National Trial?

The Government is extending the powers of the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities 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.  This means that the law does not require social care and health to follow the judgements.  However, if they are not carried out by the local authority and health care commissioners, you will have a right of complaint to an ombudsman.

The trial applies to EHC plans issued from 3 April 2018. An independent evaluation of the trial, to decide if the new tribunal recommendation powers should be continued, will run from January 2018 to March 2021

What do these changes mean for parents and young people?

  1. You can appeal to the SEND Tribunal if you are unhappy with:
  • the local authority’s (LA) decision not to issue an EHC plan
  • the special educational content or placement in the issued EHC plan.

 

  1. To date, you could only appeal the educational parts of EHC plans. If you are making an appeal, you can now:
  • ask the Tribunal to make recommendations about the health and social care needs and provision.

This means that:

  • you can raise all your concerns about an EHC plan in one place
  • the Tribunal will take a more holistic, person-centred view of the needs of the child or young person. 

 

  1. You can ask the Tribunal to make recommendations about the health and/or social care parts of EHC plans in relation to:
  • the description of the child or young person’s special educational needs in an EHC

plan

  • the special educational provision specified in an EHC plan
  • the school or other educational institution named in an EHC plan
  • a decision by the local authority not to issue an EHC plan
  • a decision by the local authority not to carry out a re-assessment for a child or young person who has an EHC plan
  • a decision by the local authority not to amend an EHC plan following a review or

re-assessment

  • a decision by the local authority to cease to maintain an EHC plan.

 

  1. If you appeal to the Tribunal and want to request that the Tribunal also considers your concerns about the health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan, you should:

 

  1. If you ask the Tribunal to make a recommendation, this does not stop you from complaining about other things you disagree with through other complaint procedures. You should seek advice about the different routes available, such as from the local Information Advice and Support Service (Parents’ Advice Centre).

 

  1. If the Tribunal makes recommendations about the health or social care parts of the EHC plan, they are not legally binding. However, if they are not followed, the City of London Corporation and/or the City and Hackney CCG or Tower Hamlets CCG will have to explain the reasons for not doing so to you and to the Department for Education. 

If they are not followed, you can complain to the:

Mediation during the trial

Mediation gives us a chance to resolve disagreements and can be quicker than an appeal. It does not affect your right to make an educational appeal, and some aspects of the disagreement can go to appeal even when other aspects are resolved. 

 

  1. Before you can register an appeal with the Tribunal:

 

  • you must contact a mediation adviser within two months of the LA decision
  • you do not have to contact a mediation adviser if you only want to appeal about the school or other institution named in the EHC plan
  • you can go to mediation about the health and social care elements of an EHC plan, but this is not compulsory
  • you can ask for recommendations about health and social care issues without mediation advice if you are also appealing about an education issue.

 

  1. Once you have contacted a mediation adviser or have taken part in mediation:

 

  • you will be issued with a certificate – this will be needed if you are still unhappy and wish to progress to an appeal with the Tribunal
  • any appeal must be made within two months of the decision about which the appeal is being made or one month following the issuing of the mediation certificate, whichever is the later 

if mediation resolves the educational issues, you will not be able to appeal to the Tribunal on any health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan.

Responsibilities on the local authority and health and social care services

  1. The City of London Corporation’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) team must:
  • inform parents and young people of their new rights through decision letters and the Local Offer
  • provide evidence to the Tribunal from health and social care within the timeframe set by the Tribunal, seek permission to bring additional witnesses to the hearing as necessary
  • send the health and social care response letters to the evaluators: SENDletters@IFFResearch.com

 

  1. Health and social care commissioners must:
  • respond to any request for information and evidence within the timeframe set by the Tribunal
  • send a witness to represent the service at the hearing as required
  • respond to the parent or young person and the SEND team within five weeks of a recommendation being made, with either the steps to be taken or reasons for not following the recommendations.

Take part in the evaluation of the trial

The Government wants to evaluate the extension of the Tribunal’s powers to decide if the new tribunal recommendation powers should be continued.

 

The evaluation will be based on evidence from telephone or online interviews with parents and young people. These will take place after the appeal hearing or when the appeal process is complete. There will also be a follow-up interview six months later to see how recommendations have been carried out and what the impact has been. 

 

Parents and young people who take part in the trial will receive a letter from the Tribunal explaining the evaluation and how their personal data will be stored confidentially and protected.

Help and further information

  • Advice on making SEND appeals to the Tribunal and the appeal form is available on the GOV.UK website
  • A guidance document on the national trial is published as part of a toolkit of support
  • Parents’ Advice Centre  
  • The evaluation of the trial is led by IFF Research working with Belmana. For any questions or to get involved, please contact  SENDtrial@IFFResearch.com, freephone: 0800 035 6051
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