Mediation and Tribunals
Mediation can be used to resolve disagreements about the education, health and social care elements of an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.
On 3 April 2018, a new two-year national trial began known as the single route of redress. Under the trial, the health and social care aspects of the EHC plan, as well as the educational elements, can be appealed. This has since been extended until August 2020, when a decision will be made on its continuation.
A parent/carer or young person may disagree with a decision that Essex County Council has made regarding:
- decision not to carry out an EHC needs Assessment
- decision not to issue an EHC plan after a needs assessment has been completed
- content in the final EHC plan, including the educational placement
- decision not to amend a plan after a review
- content of amended EHC plan
- decision to cease an EHC plan
Essex County Council will notify parents/carers or a young person of any decisions in writing with reasons for this and explain the actions that can be taken if there is disagreement with this decision. This might include:
Arranging a meeting with the SEND Operations Coordinator in the SEND Operations Service who is dealing with your child’s assessment. They will be able to talk through the reasons behind the decision in more detail and answer any questions or concerns that you may have.
Contacting the Essex SEND Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS)
SEND IASS provides confidential and impartial information and support on issues relating to special educational needs and disabilities. They are able to advise you on processes for resolving disagreements, SEND Tribunal processes and means of redress, as well as supporting you at meetings and helping to get your views across.
Mediation and Dispute Resolution Services
If an agreement has still not been reached, parents/carers and young people can appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (sometimes referred to as the SEND Tribunal). Before you can make an appeal however, you must contact an independent mediation advisor and discuss whether mediation might be a suitable way of resolving the disagreement.
Mediation offers an opportunity for a face to face meeting with an independent trained facilitator. Views are shared and explained whilst ensuring that the focus remains on the needs of the child or young person.
Engagement with mediation is not mandatory. Parents/carers or young people can choose not to use the service or withdraw from the mediation process at any time.
Parents/carers or young people can also take part in disagreement resolution which operates in a similar way to mediation. This can be in addition to any mediation or appeal.
The current provider for mediation and dispute resolution in Essex is Global Mediation. Contact details and more information about this service can be found their website.
Appeal the decision to the First Tier Tribunal (SEND Tribunal)
If a parent/carer or young person decides not to continue with the mediation process, a certificate will be issued to confirm contact with the service and that information has been made available. Alternatively, the certificate can confirm that the mediation process has been completed.
In order for an appeal to be considered, you must provide evidence that you have contacted a mediation service first. The appeal must be made within two months of the decision being sent or one month of receiving the certificate (depending which lends the most time).
Information on making an appeal can be found on the gov.uk First Tier Tribunal Website