Mediation is a statutory service to help resolve disagreements regarding between parents, carers or young people and the local authority regarding decisions relating to EHC needs assessments and plans.
This is a an informal, non legalistic, accessible and simple disagreement settlement process run by a trained third party and is designed to bring two parties together to clarify issues and reach a resolution.
Mediation applies to disagreements resulting from decisions made by local authorities including:
- A decision not to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assessment
- A decision not to draw up an EHC plan following a needs assessment
- A disagreement after receipt of a final EHC plan or an amended plan
- A decision not to amend an EHC plan
- A decision to cease to maintain an EHC plan
Mediation is voluntary for parents, carers and young people but if they decide to take up formal mediation services following receipt of independent information and advice then the Local Authority must attend.
How does mediation work
Information regarding mediation will be included with the Local Authority letter sent to parents, carers or the young person acknowledging the receipt of a request for statutory assessment.
The information will include contact details for SENDIASS who are the independent, impartial mediation advice service for Leicester.
Parents, carers and young people who wish to make an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (SEND) may only do so after they have contacted SENDIASS and discussed whether mediation might be a suitable means of resolving the disagreement
When contacted for information and advice regarding mediation SENDIASS will explain the:
- Purpose and process of mediation
- Use of mediation services is voluntary
- Timescales which must be met
- Certificate and its purpose
- Local authority will pay reasonable travel costs and other expenses to the parent, carer, young person and any witnesses taking part in the mediation
- Parent, carer or young person has a choice of two mediation service providers should they decide to take up mediation
If you decide to proceed with mediation, SENDIASS will contact the local authority who will ensure that a mediation session takes place within 30 calendar days and the local authority must take part.
If you decide not to go to mediation, SENDIASS will issue you with a certificate within three working days confirming that mediation information has been provided.
If the local authority is unable to arrange mediation within 30 days, it must inform the mediation service provider. SENDIASS (as the mediation adviser) will then issue a certificate within three days to you. On receipt of the certificate you can decide whether to appeal immediately or wait for mediation to take place.
Mediation sessions should be arranged in discussion with you and take place at a location and time that is convenient for all concerned.
The mediation should agree with those concerned as to who needs to be at the mediation session –you may be accompanied by a friend, adviser or advocate. Where parents and carers are party to the mediation and it is not appropriate for the child to attend in person, the mediator will take reasonable steps to gain the views of the child.
You can be legally represented at the mediation if you wish and the mediator agrees.
Where mediation takes place, a certificate must be issued by the mediation adviser within three working days of the mediation being completed. You have one month following receipt of the certificate to register an appeal with the Tribunal should you still wish to appeal following the mediation.