Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What is Mediation/Dispute Resolution?
A: Mediation is a way of resolving disagreements between parents/carers and the Local Authority (LA) or Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on how best to meet the needs of a child or young person with SEND. For instance, if your believe your child requires an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), you or your child's school may have asked the LA to carry out a statutory needs assessment. If the LA does not believe that your child meets the threshold for assessment, you may request a Dispute Resolution meeting.
Q: How do I access the mediation/DR Service?
A: You can contact LINK freephone on 0800 999 5544 for our Mediation Information and Assessment Service (sometimes call 'MIAS'). We will talk to you about your reasons for wanting the meeting, and will answer any questions you have.
Q: How long will it take to arrange the mediation/DR meeting?
A: LINK will inform the LA that you would like to have the meeting. You have 60 days from this date for the meeting to take place.
Q: Who can come to the meeting?
A: It is your meeting, so there are no restrictions on who can come. It is common for the following to attend: SENDco's, school teachers/classroom assistants, educational psychologists (EP's), and anyone else whom you believe may have a valuable input. It is usual for a representative from the LA/CCG to attend, as these individuals have the authority to make important decisions.
Q: Can my son/daughter attend?
A: Of course! Children and young people are central to the decision making process and their views should be taken into account where possible.
Q: Where does the meeting take place?
A: Wherever is convenient for you. It is common for school/nursery to be used as a venue, as this is often the most practical choice. We may also use the local Information and Advisory Service (IAS), or other public buildings, if necessary.
Q: How long does the meeting take?
A: That depends on what you would like to discuss; it is usual for meetings to last anywhere between forty-five minutes and two hours.
Q: What will I need to talk about at the meeting?
A: Some parents/carers like to begin the mediation/DR meeting by talking about their son/daughter and why they believe the additional support is required. But don't worry if you prefer not to start, as we understand that this can be daunting. The mediator will enusre that you feel comfortable, and will only ask you to talk when you are confident and at ease. Lots of parents ask their child's SENDco or class teacher to talk first, for instance.
Q: Will a decision be made on the day?
A: Sometimes a decision is made on the day, and sometimes the LA/CCG representative will need to go away and consider the information that has been provided at the meeting. Either way, you will leave the meeting feeling reassured, and will understand what needs to take place next.
Q: What happens if I don't get the decision I want?
A: If the LA/CCG uphold their original decision, or if they don't believe your child meets the threshold for additional support, you can still take your appeal to the SEND Tribunal. LINK will provide you with a Mediation Advice Certificate within two working days of your meeting - you will need this to start your appeal process.
Q: My child already has an EHCP but I disagree with some of the details. Can I have mediation?
A: Yes, you may request a mediation meeting for instance if you disagree with the level of support provided in your Plan, or if you disagree with the school named in the Plan. Please contact LINK for a MIAS on 0800 999 5544.
Q: I don't want mediation: Can I just have a Mediation Advice Certificate?
A: You will still need to contact us for the MIAS. We will listen to your concerns about mediation/DR and will advise you on how mediation may assist you. Mediation has a very high success rate, and even when parents don't get the decisions they want on the day, they come away from the meeting armed with more information than before. However, we will understand if you do not wish to participate, and will issue you with your certificate within two working days of the MIAS.
Q: Can you tell me if the mediation will be successful?
A: We will do everything to ensure that the most relevant professionals attend the meeting, and will likewise do our best to facilitate productive discussions whilst remaining independent and impartial throughout. I'm afriad we cannot advise on the outcomes of specific cases. We always suggest speaking with your Local Authorities Information Advisory Service (IAS), or an independent body such as IPSEA, for further information and support:
Q: I am nervous about the meeting: who can I contact?
A: If you need reassurance in relation to the mediation/DR meeting, please contact us by email or phone, we are here to help!