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 Global Mediation.
- 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 Global Mediation and discussed whether mediation might be a suitable means of resolving the disagreement
- When contacted for information and advice regarding mediation, Global Mediation will explain:
a) The purpose and process of mediation
b) That use of mediation services is voluntary
c) The timescales which must be met
d) The certificate and it’s purpose
e) That the local authority will pay reasonable travel costs and other expenses to the parent, carer, young person and any witnesses taking part in the mediation/disagreement resolution
- If you decide not to go to mediation following contact with Global Mediation, the service will issue you with a certificate within three working days confirming that mediation information has been provided
- If you decide to proceed with mediation, Global Mediation 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 the local authority is unable to arrange mediation within 30 days, it must inform the mediation service provider. Global Mediation (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 or 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 they 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
What happens if I want to appeal to the SEND Tribunal?
- Mediation must be considered before registering an appeal
- Appeals can be made by:
a) Parents or carers of children and young people from age 0 to the end of compulsory schooling
b) Young people over compulsory school age until they reach 25 years (where they have the capacity to make the decision)
c) Parents or carers of young people over compulsory school age until they reach 25 years where the young person lacks the capacity to make the decision
- You have two months to register an SEN appeal with the Tribunal from the date of receiving a notice from the local authority containing a decision that can be appealed, although the Tribunal does have the power to accept appeals outside of the two month limit
- You can lodge an appeal within one month of a mediation certificate being issued. This can be either following the mediation or being given mediation information, whichever is the later
- Advice regarding registering an Appeal can be obtained from SENDIASS
- The Tribunal has the powers to:
a) Dismiss an appeal
b) Instruct the local authority to carry out an assessment
c) Instruct the local authority to make and maintain an EHC plan
d) Instruct the local authority to amend the EHC plan
e) Instruct the local authority to consider or correct a weakness identified within the plan