01908 889080 Contact us

Special Educational Needs (SEN) Mediation

Disputes between parents, young people, health care services and/or local authorities, concerning the provision to be made for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) can be contentious, resulting in appeals being made to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal. This can be a costly, drawn out process for all parties and may result in strained relations thereafter which are not in the child’s interests. Effective mediation provides a cost effective alternative and is something that parents and local authorities should actively pursue.

Essential Mediation specialises in resolving education disputes between parents, young people, education providers, health services and local authorities. We provide SEN mediation services which include, an information advice line and pre-tribunal mediation sessions in accordance with the Children and Families Act (2014).

From the 1st September 2014, all local authorities and health commisioning services have a legal duty to provide SEN Mediation when a parent or young person is considering lodging an appeal to the tribunal service in relation to the Education, Health and Care (EHC) process or an EHC plan.

Essential Mediation is committed to promoting mediation as a viable alternative to the excessive personal cost in stress, time and money caused by unnecessary litigation, lack of effective communication and unresolved conflict.

For more information on the services we provide click here, or alternatively contact us on 01908 889080 to speak to a mediator.

Mediation Rights

The Act provides parents/young people with the right to go to mediation about the education, health and social care elements of the EHC plan, a refusal to assess/issue or maintain a plan. There are two routes by which they go to mediation because they cannot appeal to the Tribunal about the health and social care elements of the plan:

  • Mediation: Health Care issues
  • Mediation: Education and Social Care Issues

All local authorities and health commisoning servives must make mediation services available and inform parents and young people, through their local offer, of their right to mediation and the fact that they have to consider mediation before they can lodge an appeal with the tribunal service in relation to the educational elements of the EHC plan.

Mediation Advice

There is now a statutory duty on local authority’s to provide a mediation advice service, as there is a compulsory requirement for mediation to be considered as a way to resolve a dispute before a parent or young person can lodge an appeal to the First-Tier tribunal service with the exception of appeals in relation to the name or type of school/institution in an EHC plan.

Parents/young people who wish to make an appeal to the Tribunal about the SEN element of an EHC plan, may do so only after they have contacted an independent mediation adviser and discussed whether mediation might be a suitable way of resolving the dispute(s).

At Essential Mediation all our advisers are accredited mediators rather than an administrator or case manager. We believe that it is important for parents and young people to speak to someone who has first-hand experience and knowledge of the mediation process and SEN legislation so that they are provided with accurate, impartial information to assist them with their decision making.

Mediation can be used to resolve a wide range of different types of disagreements, such as:

Mediation can be used to resolve a wide range of different types of disagreements, such as:

  • Refusal to carry out an EHC assessment;
  • Refusal to issue an EHC plan;
  • Cessation of a plan;
  • The content of your child’s EHC plan;
  • The amount of therapy provision detailed in the EHC plan;
  • The type of school or educational setting proposed by the local authority;
  • The school or educational setting named in the EHC plan;
  • The delivery of the plan;
  • Following the outcome of a tribunal hearing.

Currently, SEN mediation Services are ineffective because:

  • Few mediators have direct experience of SEN law and practice;
  • Neither party understands the mediation process and the role of the mediator;
  • There is no personal contact between the mediator and the participants before the mediation day;
  • The mediation is not properly prepared or managed;
  • Neither party is prepared to compromise;
  • An increasing number of mediators attempt to conduct a quasi-Tribunal hearing. This is not the role or purpose of the mediator or the mediation process.

At Essential Mediation, we can provide an alternative to the mediation and disagreement resolution services currently offered and can provide:

  • An advice line facilitated by accredited mediators;
  • Mediators who have worked with the SEN legal framework and understand the complexity of the issues from the perspective of parents, the local authority and the school;
  • Mediators who have direct experience working with parents, schools, and professionals;
  • Mediators who have direct experience of appearing before the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal and therefore have the required knowledge and expertise to be able to effectively mediate disputes.