What is Disagreement Resolution (DR)?
Under the ‘Special Educational Needs’ Code of practice (2014), Local Authorities have to make Disagreement Resolution (DR) and Mediation services available to parents and young people. It is your statutory right to challenge the school or Local Authority’s decision if you don’t think the special educational needs of your child are being met. At LINK we are passionate about giving parents and carers of children and young people with SEND the opportunity to have their say in how their child’s future is shaped. We work closely with families, teachers and educational professionals in order to achieve the best possible outcome for everyone.
Link Mediation Services offers DR and Mediation services which can be used to resolve disputes about the following:
- The special education that is being provided for a child or young person
- How an establishment is carrying out its educational health and care duties for children and young people with SEND, whether they have an education, health or care (EHC) plan or not
- The health and social care elements of an EHC plan
- Any issues or disputes arising between a Local Authority or Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) about the assessment of a child or young person with SEND, or the drafting of EHC plans.
There is no requirement for a child or young person to have an EHC plan in place before DR. If a Local Authority or CCG refuses to carry out an assessment, a parent or young person can ask their Local Authority for DR When a dispute arises, however, the earlier that DR is used, the less stressful and time consuming the whole process usually is.
What is Mediation According to the SEN Code of Practice (2014)?
Mediation is a statutory service to help parents and young people resolve disagreements about EHC needs assessments and plans. Parents and young people can use mediation before deciding to appeal to the SEN Tribunal, or after an EHC assessment has been carried out.
What is the difference between Mediation and Disagreement Resolution (DR)?
Under the new Code, mediation is more formally linked with the Tribunal process, so it would normally take place at the end of the assessment and planning process. Disagreement Resolution, on the other hand, could take place at any time during the process.
Do I have to consider mediation?
If parents or young people wish to make an appeal to the SEND Tribunal, they may do so after they have contacted a Mediation Advisor. Our Advisors will explain what mediation is, how the process works, and what they can expect to happen after the mediation has taken place. However, if the disagreement is about the name or type of school, college or other establishment named on the EHC plan, this requirement does not apply.
Mediation Advice before Mediation or Tribunal
Link Mediation has a team of SEN Mediation Advisors who are experts in their field and who can provide parents, carers and young people with impartial and factual advice about the mediation process and are able to answer any questions that you may have. Once you have received this advice, it is up to you whether to proceed with the mediation prior to making an appeal to the Tribunal. To receive mediation advice, your Local Authority or CCG would usually make a referral to Link Mediation Services on your behalf. We would then arrange a convenient time to contact you by telephone. If you decide not to go ahead with the mediation, our Mediation Advisor will issue you with a certificate so that you may go ahead and register your appeal. Your right to appeal is not affected if you choose not to proceed with mediation.
Why try mediation?
At Link we have around a 90% success rate, meaning that 9 out of 10 cases that went through our mediation service ended in agreement.
Remember: you now have the right to challenge. If you go on to register your case with the Tribunal, the Tribunal will deal with the appeal on the facts of the case. It may explore similar ground to that of the mediation, but will reach its own independent findings and conclusions. Mediation is confidential and without prejudice to the Tribunal process, which means that it will disregard any offers or comments made during the mediation session itself. You have nothing whatsoever to lose by using Mediation.
How the Link Mediation SEND Referral Process Works
- We receive a telephone call, email or other enquiry from a Parent/Carer, someone in the Local Authority, a Parent Partnership Officer, a member of school Staff, young person or other agent. One of our Mediation Advisors will talk to the person and advise them of what happens next;
- We then contact all parties and explain to them what mediation is and how it works. We will then ask if they are willing to participate in a mediation session to resolve the matter. We will also carry out a Risk Assessment;
- We will check that all those who will be taking part have the authority to settle the dispute or contribute towards the settlement;
- We then arrange to meet or telephone the parties individually and get the details of their dispute (their side of the story);
- We prepare the paperwork for each party by writing the details of each persons’ view point as they have been told to us. Paperwork is sent to the parties individually to check that it is right. If so, they are asked to sign and return the documents to us in a self-addressed envelope;
- Then the Mediation session is arranged to take place between all the parties no later than 30 days after the initial referral. It is an informal, relaxed session and takes place at an agreed local venue. The session usually lasts between 4-5 hours. Lunch and refreshments are provided.
- When the session has ended, agreements are written up and copies are sent to all parties. The parties are also asked to complete a ‘Feedback Form’ so that we can maintain quality assurance. These forms can then be returned by email or post in self-addressed envelopes.
- If no agreement has been made, Link will issue you with a Mediation Certificate within three working days. You can then use this to register your appeal to the Tribunal.
Please contact us for more information about our SEND Mediation Services. We can also send out a leaflet explaining the process in plain English.
We also offer several other services for schools.