The Children and Families Act 2014 makes a distinction between disagreement resolution and mediation, put simply, disagreement resolution is used when there are disagreements which cannot be appealed to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) and mediation is used where the disagreement can be appealed to the SENDIST or the disagreement is about the health and social care elements of an EHC plan.
For example, mediation can take place when the local authority:
- Decides not to carry out an EHC needs assessment
- Decides not to draw up an EHC plan
- After a final EHC plan is issued
- Decides not to amend an EHC plan
- Decides to cease an EHC plan
- Or if there is a disagreement about the health and social care elements of an EHC plan.
In any of the examples given above, the letter from the local authority will say if there is a right to appeal the decision to SENDIST and will give details of the mediation service. Young people and parents/carers have two months to appeal to the SENDIST tribunal and the local authority has 30 days from when it was asked to take part in mediation to fit in with the mediation arrangements.
In Norfolk the mediation service is delivered by KIDS SEN Mediation Service which is an independent organisation, contactable by:
Telephone: 03330 062 835 or email: email@example.com
Mediation gives everybody a chance to give their own views and listen to others. It is not confrontational but looks for solutions that everybody can agree to. If a young person or parent/carer wishes to appeal to SENDIST they must consider mediation unless it is only about placement (section I).
KIDS SEN Mediation Service will be happy to talk through issues, answer any questions and let young people, parents / carers know if mediation may help. It will then be the young persons’, parents/carers’ decision if they would like to continue with mediation.
If they decide not to go for mediation services, KIDS SEN Mediation Service will issue a certificate, within three working days of being told of the decision not to go with mediation, to say that information about mediation has been provided by them. The young person or parents/carers can then appeal, producing a copy of the certificate. The appeal must be made within two months of the decision being sent or one month of receiving the certificate depending on which gives the most time.