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Mediation is a type of disagreement resolution for disagreements that can be appealed to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. 

Mediation is a way for you to discuss things with local authority staff which are led and supported by someone independent. Discussions happen at a meeting, either in person or online and you can take someone along to support you.  Sometimes people from other organisations also go along, such as staff from your child’s school or college.

It’s less formal than going to a tribunal to appeal. It doesn’t cost anything for you to use and you don’t need to be represented by a lawyer.

Mediation is different from disagreement resolution because it’s specifically for parents and young people who are considering appealing about parts of the Education Health and Care (EHC) plan process. It’s not used to resolve disagreements about general SEN support.

In Southend, mediation services are provided by KIDS SEND Mediation Service .

If parents and 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 receiving a final EHC plan or amended plan
  • not to amend an EHC plan
  • to cease to maintain an EHC plan

If you decide that you want to appeal one of the decisions above, you must contact a mediation advisor. This is to see whether mediation could help you to resolve your disagreement without going to appeal. If you decide to use mediation, a meeting will be set up between you and the local authority. If you decide not to use mediation, you’ll be given a certificate which allows you to start your appeal with the First Tier Tribunal (SEN and disability). 

If you decide not to go into mediation and tell the mediation adviser, they will send you a certificate within three working days and you can then register your appeal. You do not have to use mediation if you do not want to, you only must consider whether to or not.

The local authority must tell you about mediation and who to contact for the initial advice when they send you their decision.

The deadline for appealing is

  • two months from the date of the letter you were sent by the local authority about their decision, or
  • one month from the date a mediation certificate is issued

whichever is the later.

You can register an appeal without considering mediation first if the appeal is only about:

  • the name of the school or college named on the plan
  • the type of school or college specified in the plan
  • the fact that no school or other institution is named

If you choose mediation the local authority must take part. The meeting will be arranged within 30 days.

When the meeting has finished the mediator issues you with a certificate. You need this certificate if you still want to register an appeal with the First Tier Tribunal. 

Mediators must be trained and accredited and are independent of the local authority and Clinical Commissioning Group.

If you go over the two-month deadline for considering mediation, or want to appeal without a certificate, the law says you can still approach the Tribunal to see if you can register your appeal.

Why Choose Mediation?

A helpful video from KIDS SEND Mediation explaining mediation and disagreement resolution..