Mediation is a free, confidential service to help you with disagreement resolution, when you are thinking of appealing to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. In most cases, you must, by law, consider mediation as an informal way of looking for a solution before appealing an Education, Health and Care Plan decision.
Mediators must be trained and accredited and are independent of the local authority and clinical comissioning group.
When the local authority sends you notice of a decision which can be appealed to the First tier Tribunal (SEND), they will tell you about your right to go to mediation.
The letter from the LA must:
- Include contact details of a mediation adviser
- Give timescales for requesting mediation
- Include contact details of any person acting on behalf of the local authority who you can get in touch with if you want to take part in mediation
- Make clear that your right to appeal is not affected by entering into mediation.
Hertfordshire mediation is supplied by KIDS Mediation, London.
For most types of appeal, you'll need to obtain a mediation certificate. You may need to attend a face to face mediation session, or you may be issued a certificate without the mediation session.
From then, you either have 1 month from receiving the certificate to register the appeal, or 2 months from original decision by the LA - whichever is later.
IPSEA has further guidance on seeking mediation and what your options are.
The SEND Tribunal is a legal forum in England, which parents and young people can appeal to when they have a dispute with their local authority (LA).
The tribunal hears disputes brought under the Children’s and Families Act 2014.
You can appeal against the LA if they:
- Refuse to carry out an Education Health and Care assessment or re-assessment
- Refuse to issue an Education, Health and Care plan after an assessment
- Decide to stop a plan
- Refuse to amend a plan following an annual review.
You can also appeal against the contents of a plan (e.g. the description of the child or young person’s SEN, the provision specified, the school or institution named or the fact that no school or institution is named).
Appeals can be made to the Tribunal over the education aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.
As part of a new 2 year trial, parents and young people will also have the ability to appeal associated health and social care issues via the tribunal. The trial will extend the powers of the tribunal to make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care plans.
This new aproach enables the tribunal to take a more rounded view of children and young people’s needs across education, health and social care in line with EHC plans, and provide a person-centred approach (LINK) to decision making. It should also provide positive benefits for families and improve joint working among commissioners.
The Council for Disabled Children have more information on the trial, and you can also discuss it with a member of the SENDIASS team.
IPSEA has further adivce on challenging decisions and steps you can take.
Tribunal Appeals Forms
There are 2 different appeal forms depending on the age of the child or young person.
If the child is 16 years and under, only parents or someone with parental responsibility can appeal. They should use form SEND24.
Young people over 16 years can appeal themselves using form SEND 24a. They have the option to ask a parent/carer or representative to help.
Before you start...
When sending the form, you'll need to include the following:
- The decision letter from the LA
- The mediation certificate
- A copy of the EHCP, if there is one
- The reports gathered during the EHC assessment (Appendix K of the plan)