If we can't agree...
The mediation process
The aim of the process is to settle disagreements that arise between parents and the Local Authority / schools / Academies / Further Education institutions / NHS about the special educational needs (SEN) of children and young people, and how best to meet these needs whether they are education, health or social care needs.
The KIDS London SEN Mediation Service provides mediation support for parents of children with Special Educational Needs when there is some kind of disagreement surrounding how best to meet those needs. Mediation is an informal, voluntary process where parties in disagreement meet together with an independent mediator, and from 3rd April 2018, parents can ask for the health and social care provision to also be discussed in the mediations.
The KIDS London SEN Mediation Service provides the mediation meetings for parents, local authorities and schools in the majority of London boroughs including Haringey, Camden, Enfield and Islington Local Authorities. The service provides a panel of independent experienced mediators who are highly skilled, impartial professionals that have an accredited qualification in mediation and have received additional training in SEN legislation and practice.
How does mediation work?
Mediation is an informal, voluntary process which involves an independent facilitator (the mediator) who helps those in dispute to reach agreements that are acceptable to all parties. The mediator is impartial, does not take sides, nor gives suggestions or possible solutions to the dispute.
The mediator is there to help to facilitate discussions and to make sure everyone is treated fairly. The mediator is in control of the process but not of the outcome of the mediation. It is the parties themselves that find solutions and decide the outcome through participating in the mediation process.
- Learn more about the Mediation Process (PDF, 169KB)
Parents must access the mediation process first in order to have the right of appeal through Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Services - the Health, Education and Social Care (HESC) Chamber of the First-Tier Tribunal. Again, the Haringey Information, Advice and Support (Haringey IAS) Service can help parents with advice on how to make such an appeal.
The Special Educational Needs Disability (SEND) tribunal has changed
Since 3 April 2018, the SEND tribunal has had some new powers.
SEND tribunal can now look at health and social care concerns too
If you have concerns about the education sections of an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan or about a local authority decision to not issue an EHC plan, you can go to the tribunal and ask for these concerns to be addressed. For these cases, you will now also be able to ask the tribunal to look at the health and social care sections of the EHC plan as long as the local authority decision happened on or after 3 April or the plan was issued or amended from 3 April.
You still need an education complaint to go to tribunal
One important thing to understand is that you cannot go to a SEND tribunal if you do not have an education complaint – a health or social care complaint without a special educational concern does not enable you to use the SEND tribunal which must be “triggered” by a special educational concern. More information on what is included in a special educational concern, and how to appeal, is set out on GOV.UK.
This gives families a “one stop shop” (or single route of redress) where they can seek redress for concerns in an EHC plan.
Previously, the tribunal had no powers over the health and social care aspects of a plan. Now, all elements of a plan can be reviewed in one place as long as there is an education concern.
The tribunal can make “non-binding” recommendations about health and social care provision in EHC plans
The judgements that the SEND tribunal makes about health and social care elements of an EHC plan are “non-binding”. This means that the law does not require health and social care commissioners to follow the judgements.
Although the judgements are non-binding, the local authority and health care commissioners are expected to follow them and because they are recommendations from a specialist tribunal, they cannot be rejected lightly.
The health or social care commissioner must write to the family and the local authority within five weeks to tell them if they are going to follow the recommendations or not. If they are then they need to explain the actions they are going to take. However, if they decide not to follow the tribunal judgement, they must explain why they are not following the tribunal’s recommendations. In these instances, you can still take your case to the relevant ombudsman (for social care or for health) and / or judicial review as you can now.
This is a two-year national trial
The government are trialling this new process for two years. At the end of the period, they will assess how well it has worked and make a decision on what happens next.
IFF Research will be contacting parents and young people who have been through the trial to find out about their experiences. They will be gathering evidence to help the government make this decision.
More information can be found at:
Your local Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS) – IASS can provide free, impartial advice about the law on SEN, local SEN arrangements and support, the trial and your rights. It can provide support with managing appeals, including support with preparing cases and attendance at hearings.
- GOV.UK – This includes advice on making SEND appeals to the Tribunal and links to the appeal form.
National trial toolkit – Key information and resources will be shared as the trial progresses, including a frequently asked questions and answers sheet.
How to make a referral?
Parents can make referrals themselves. Any other party must have parents’ permission to contact the Mediation Service.
Requests for mediation can come from other parties such as:
- Local Authority
- Haringey Information Advice and Support service (IASS) formerly called the Parent Partnership Service (who would be supporting the parent who may have a concern).
- Barnardos Independent Support
- School staff
- Other parties, such as voluntary agencies
No paperwork is required - simply contact:
- Tel: 020 7359 3635
- Web: Mediation service (external link)
A member of staff will take details of the case and if both parties to the disagreement agree to take part in mediation, a date will be arranged, and the mediation will proceed.
Please note that Local Authority Officers, Haringey Information Advice and Support service (IASS) or any other third parties must have permission from parents/ carers before passing their details to the KIDS London SEN Mediation Service.
You can contact the Haringey Information Advice and Support service (IASS) call 020 8800 2611.