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What is mediation?

Mediation is a meeting you can have with SEND services to find a solution to your problems in an impartial and confidential environment. An independent mediator manages the discussion to help you and the people involved try to reach a resolution.

In Hertfordshire, mediation services are run by independent organisation KIDS. Their experienced and qualified mediators put you at ease and find the best way to meet your child's needs without you having to go through the formal appeal or tribunal process.

Mediation is voluntary, but if you want to go to Tribunal, you must have contacted mediation services, and listened to their advice.

You must contact mediation services within 2 months of receiving the decision letter that you are unhappy about, because the law only allows you to appeal to tribunal within 2 months of the decision OR 1 month from the date of the Mediation Certificate, whichever is longer.

If you decide not to go to mediation, then KIDS will send you a mediation certificate within 3 days of you telling them your decision.

If you agree to mediation, KIDS will have 30 days to arrange a date for mediation. The actual mediation may take place after the 30 days. Your mediation certificate will then be issued to you within 3 days of your mediation session having happened.

By law, we (Hertfordshire County Council) must go to mediation if you request that we do. However, you do not have to attend if you do not want to.

What are the benefits?

We understand that appealing a decision can be daunting, so it's good to understand how mediation can benefit you.

  • It's free. Mediation services are offered at a cost to the council. You won't have to pay for anything.
  • You get an extension on your time to make an appeal to tribunal. You have 1 month from the date of receving your mediation certificate to appeal to tribunal if you still need to.
  • Mediators make sure everyone is fully heard and treated fairly.
  • It's child-centred. Mediators make sure that the focus of the meeting is on the needs of your child.
  • Mediators are impartial. They will not takes sides and it is only the parties involved who will agree on outcomes.
  • It is quicker and less formal than a Tribunal hearing.
  • You could be in a stronger position than when you started. Even if you can't resolve everything, mediation might help you to work out some or most of your issues, which will reduce your concerns and make your remaining issues more manageable.

What can you expect at a mediation?

You will be contacted by a caseworker beforehand, who will discuss your disagreements with you and prepare you for your meeting with a mediator. Every mediator is trained in SEND processes, qualified in mediation and has no connection to local authorities or schools.

The purpose of the meeting is to bring both parties together in an honest and safe space, to try and reach an agreement on the points of dispute.

What you can expect from your meeting:

  • The meeting is scheduled to last up to 4 hours
  • The meeting is managed by the independent mediator
  • The meeting takes place in a neutral setting
  • The council must send a member of staff who is a decision maker. This means they have the authority to agree to the actions going forward that you discuss
  • All parties will get to discuss their views, and if an agreement is reached which is acceptable to all, the key actions will be formally written down and signed by all parties. Everyone will get a copy of this document.
  • You will be issued a mediation certificate within 3 working days, so that if you decide to, you have 1 month to appeal to Tribunal if you wish.

0300 123 4043 - Hertfordshire County Council customer call centre

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