Decisions about provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities should be made jointly by providers, parents, children and young people themselves.
Decisions will be made keeping the views of children, young people and parents in mind.
Being involved in the decision making
Relations between education, health, social care and parents and young people should be marked by open communication so that:
- Parents and young people know where they are in the decision-making process.
- Their knowledge and experience can be used to support good decision-making.
- They know the reasons why decisions have been made.
Parents and young people should be given information and support so that they can take part in decision-making and complaints processes. Support can be provided by SENDIASS - Staffordshire Family Partnership.
Resolving disputes as early as possible
We are committed to resolving any disputes as early as possible. Parents and young people are strongly encouraged to raise their concerns with their SEND key worker or the Family Practitioner Lead that is handling their case.
When can I use mediation?
Mediation can take place following decisions where there is a disagreement about:
- A decision not to carry out a Needs Assessment, which may or may not result in an ECHP being issued.
- The description of the child or young person’s special educational needs in an education, health and care plan (Section B).
- The special educational provision specified in an education, health and care plan (Section F).
- The health and social care aspects of education, health and care plans (Sections C, D, G, H1 and H2).
- The school or other educational institution named in an education, health and care plan (Section I).
- A decision by the local authority not to issue an education, health and care plan.
- A decision by the local authority not to carry out a re-assessment for a child/young person who has an education, health and care plan.
- A decision by the local authority not to amend an education, health and care plan following a review or re-assessment.
- A decision by the local authority to cease to maintain an education, health and care plan.
Do I need to contact the mediation adviser if I want to appeal?
When we send the parent or young person notice of a decision which can be appealed to the tribunal, it will tell the parent or young person of their right to go to mediation. In this case they must contact a mediation adviser before registering an appeal with the tribunal. This notice will:
- give the contact details of a mediation adviser.
- contain the timescales for requesting mediation.
- contact details of any person acting on behalf of the council who the parent or young person should contact if they wish to pursue mediation.
Parents’ and young people’s right to appeal is not affected by entering into mediation. Once the information has been provided it is for the parent or young person to decide whether they want to go to mediation before any appeal they might make to the tribunal.
Parents and young people who wish to make an appeal to the Tribunal may do so only after they have contacted an independent mediation adviser and discussed whether mediation might be a suitable way of resolving the disagreement.
How is the information provided?
This will normally be provided on the phone, although information can be provided in written form, through face-to-face meetings or through other means if the parent or young person prefers. The mediation adviser should be ready to answer any questions from the parent or young person and explain:
- that mediation is an informal, non-legalistic, accessible and simple disagreement settlement process run by a trained third party and designed to bring two parties together to clarify the issues, and reach a resolution.
- that the parent or young person’s use of mediation is voluntary.
- the timescales which must be met and the certificate.
- that the local authority will pay reasonable travel expenses and other expenses to the parent or young person taking part in mediation.
What if I decide not to go to a mediation?
Where the parent or young person decides not to go to mediation following contact with the mediation adviser, the adviser will issue a certificate. This will be provided within three working days of the parent or young person telling them that they do not want to go to mediation, this will confirm that information has been provided. The certificate will enable the parent or young person to lodge their appeal, either within two months of the original decision being sent by the local authority or within one month of receiving the certificate.
Parents and young people do not have to contact the mediation adviser prior to registering their appeal with the tribunal if:
- if their appeal is solely about the name of the school
- college or other institution named on the plan, the type of school
- college or other institution specified in the plan or the fact that no school or other institution is named in Section I.
Parents and young people will already have had the opportunity to request a school, college or other institution and to discuss this in detail with the local authority.
Who provides this service?
Global Mediation will explain how the Mediation is organised and keep the young person or parent carer informed about dates, times and answer any queries.
Can I still appeal if I choose to go to mediation?
Mediation will not always lead to complete agreement between the parties. If the parent or young person still wants to appeal to the tribunal following mediation they must send the certificate to the tribunal when they register their appeal.
Partial agreement achieved through mediation can help to focus any subsequent appeals to the tribunal on the remaining areas of disagreement.
How can I give feedback?
We welcome feedback from our parents and/or young people and their families. By giving our residents a voice, we can use the feedback we receive to inform, review and improve the services that we provide or commission. We aim to provide a high standard of service; however there are occasions where parents and/or young people may feel that this standard has not been met.
We want to hear about these experiences so that we can:
- Learn from your experience.
- Put things right where needed.
- Resolve complaints as soon as we possibly can.
For more information, or to leave feedback, please visit the compliments, comments or complaints section of our main website.
SEND tribunal - what is the process and how do I appeal a decision?
You must appeal to the SEND Tribunal within two months of the date on the letter telling you the final decision.
What can I appeal?
You can appeal if the decision is not to:
- assess a child or young person’s educational, health and care (EHC) needs
- reassess their EHC needs
- issue an EHC plan
- change what’s in a child or young person’s EHC plan
- maintain the EHC plan
Who can appeal?
- parent, someone with parental responsibility, or someone who cares for a child
- young person aged 16 to 24 (or an advocate or ‘alternative person’ acting on their behalf)
Who can help me through the process?
SENDIASS can explain the appeal process to you and provide impartial advice and support.
Help and further information
- SENDIASS - Staffordshire Family Partnership can help parents/carers and young people make a request. They can be contacted by telephone on 01785 356921 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Change Live Grow provides a specialist children and young people's advocacy and independent visitor service.
- The tribunal can be contacted at:
HM Courts & Tribunals Service
Special Educational Needs & Disability Tribunal
Darlington Magistrates’ Court
Phone: 01325 289350
- Guidance on how to appeal a special educational needs decision – guidance and an easy read guide is available.