Skip to main content

Disagreement resolution, mediation and SEND tribunal

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)

You may not always agree with a decision your child’s early years setting, school or college has made about your child’s support. You should first raise this with them and try to reach agreement. If you can’t reach agreement, they can advise you on their procedures for making complaints.

Children and young people with Special Educational Needs or Disability (SEND) and their parents can get independent information, advice and support from Trafford SEND Information and Support Service (SENDIASS). They can give you further information about disagreement resolution and mediation services.  

When People Can't Agree - A Guide for Young People: This guide for young people aged 16 to 25 is useful if you want to know who to talk to if you are unhappy with the help you are getting for your special educational needs or disability at school or college and need help and guidance to sort those problems out.

 

Disagreement Resolution

Disagreement resolution services are for all parents of children and young people with SEN, and young people themselves with SEN. Using the service is voluntary and free and covers SEN provision as well as disagreements about health and social care. 

There are three areas of disagreement that this service can help with: 

  • If you disagree with your local authority, your school, early years setting or college about how they are carrying out their education, health and care duties. This applies if your child has any kind of SEN – it’s not just if they are going through an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment or if they have an EHC plan.
  • If you disagree with your early years settings, school or college about the SEN provision they are making. This applies if your child has any kind of SEN – it’s not just if they are going through an EHC needs assessment or if they have an EHC plan.
  • If you disagree with your local authority or Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)  about the health or social care provision during your child’s EHC needs assessment, or about their EHC plan, and any review or reassessment of the EHC plan.

In Trafford disagreement resolution is provided by KIDS Mediation.

 

Mediation

Mediation is a voluntary free process for parents and young people, which you can use if you cannot reach an agreement with Trafford Council or Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in matters relating to Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans. It only covers the following areas of disagreements where Trafford Council decides: 

  • not to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assessment of your child
  • not to draw up an EHC plan for your child, once they have done an assessment
  • not to amend your child’s EHC plan after the annual review or re-assessment
  • to cease to maintain your child’s EHC plan.

Where Trafford has drawn up an EHC plan for your child, mediation must be available if you disagree with: 

  • the parts of the plan which describe a child’s special educational needs
  • the special educational provision set out in the plan

Trafford must provide you with access to an independent mediation adviser. In Trafford mediation is provided by KIDS Mediation. You will need to contact KIDS Mediation for information about mediation if you are thinking about appealing to the SEND Tribunal. 

If you decide to go to a mediation meeting, the mediation adviser will inform Trafford who must meet you within 30 days.

The mediation session will be run by an independent mediator who should have accredited training.

It should be at a place and time that is convenient for you, and you will be told when and where the meeting will be at least 5 days before it happens.

You can bring a friend, adviser or advocate to help you.

When the mediation has finished, the mediation adviser must issue a certificate within 3 working days. You will need this certificate to register an appeal to the SEND Tribunal. 

After you have contacted a mediation adviser, if you decide that you do not want to go to mediation the adviser will issue you with a certificate within 3 working days. 

You can also go to mediation with Trafford Council or Trafford CCG about the social care and health parts of an EHC plan if you are unhappy with these parts of the plan. 

 

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal

Before you can appeal to the SEND Tribunal, you must have contacted a mediation adviser (unless your appeal is only about the school Trafford has named in your child’s plan or if they have not named a school in it).

You will need a certificate from the mediation adviser to register an appeal with the SEND Tribunal. You have one month from receiving the certificate or two months from the original decision (whichever is the later date) to register an appeal with the Tribunal.

If you still have a Statement of SEN you do not need a certificate of mediation to go to tribunal.

The SEND Tribunal is a legal body. It hears appeals against decisions made by local authorities about Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessments and EHC plans. You can appeal to the Tribunal if Trafford Council decides: 

  • not to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assessment for your child
  • not to draw up an EHC plan for your child, once they have done an assessment
  • not to amend your child’s EHC plan after the annual review or re-assessment
  • to cease to maintain your child’s EHC plan

You can also appeal if you disagree with what your local authority includes in your child’s EHC plan such as: 

  • how they describe your child’s SEN
  • what SEN provision is included for your child

The SEND Tribunal also hears disability discrimination claims against schools (and against local authorities if the local authority is responsible for the school). 

You could be entitled to legal aid to pay for a meeting with a solicitor.

 

Single Route of Redress - National Trial

To date, you have only been able to appeal the educational aspects of EHC plans.  The trial gives you new rights to request recommendations about the health and social care needs and provision specified in EHC plans when making a SEND appeal.  This gives you the opportunity to raise all your concerns about an EHC plan in one place.

It is only possible for the Tribunal to consider the health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan where you are already making an appeal in relation to the education aspects of the EHC plan and the education aspect must remain live throughout the appeal.

Please see: SEND Tribunal Single Route of Redress - National Trial

 

Further information

  • Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA) have useful information about challenging decisions.
  • You can find more detailed information about how you can challenge decisions or raise complaints in chapter 11 of the SEND Code of practice: 0 to 25 years.
  • The National Autistic Society has an Education Rights Service which can help you consider your options if you have a right of appeal against a decision about your child’s educational needs.