Most disagreements can be sorted out by talking with the school, college, local authority, or Clinical Commissioning Group. Sometimes it can be difficult to reach agreement and IAS Manchester can help by providing impartial information, advice and support. Where issues can still not be resolved, disagreement resolution or mediation services may be needed.
In line with the SEND Code of Practice, local authorities and health commissioners must make disagreement resolution and mediation services available to parents and young people up to the age of 25. These services must be independent of the Local Authority and are free and confidential.
In Manchester, the Council and the Clinical Commissioning Group have a number of approved providers to deliver these services.
The disagreement resolution service is there to help resolve three kinds of disagreement between parents or young people and the organisations that are responsible for making provision for children and young people with special educational needs. These are about:
- how early years providers, schools and further education institutions carry out their duties for children and young people with SEN. For local authorities this includes keeping education and care provision under review, assessing needs and drawing up Education, Health and Care plans. For governing bodies and proprietors of schools it includes using their “best endeavours” to meet children and young people’s SEN
- the special educational provision made for a child or young person by early years providers, schools or further education institutions. This includes children and young people receiving SEN support and those with EHC plans.
- health or social care provision where these are being considered as part of an EHC needs assessment or form part of an EHC plan.
Disagreement resolution services can also be used:
- during EHC needs assessments
- while EHC plans are drawn up
- while waiting for Tribunal appeals
- at review
- during reassessments.
Mediation is a type of disagreement resolution. Mediation can take place following decisions by a local authority not to carry out an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment, not to draw up an EHC plan, after they receive a final EHC plan or amended plan, following a decision not to amend an EHC plan or a decision to stop maintaining an EHC plan.
If you wish to register an appeal with the First Tier Tribunal (SEN and disability) you first have to consider mediation. This is called mediation advice. Once you have had the mediation advice you can decide whether you want to go to mediation.
You do not need to seek mediation advice first if the appeal is only about the name of the school, or college, named on the plan, the type of provision specified in the plan or the fact that no school or other institution is named.
If you choose mediation the local authority (or Clinical Commissioning Group) must take part. The meeting will be arranged within 30 days.
An independent mediator runs the meeting. When the meeting has finished the mediator issues you with a certificate within 3 working days. You need this certificate to register an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal.
If you decide not to go to mediation the mediation adviser will issue you with a certificate within 3 working days. You will need this certificate to register an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal.
If you are considering mediation or disagreement resolution and would like to access impartial advice, you may wish to contact IAS Manchester as they will be able to help you decide if this is the right way forward.
If you decide you would like to access mediation advice or disagreement resolution, please contact the Statutory Assessment Team on 0161 245 7439. A member of the team will log your request and will give you details of the provider, which will deliver the service to you.