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Appeals, Mediation and Complaints

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Appeals, Mediation and Complaints

Wherever possible, Peterborough City Council and its health partners will try and resolve issues or areas of disagreement by meeting and talking with those involved in supporting children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities.

This includes not only parents and carers, but also children and young people themselves. However, we accept that sometimes it isn’t possible to reach a resolution without the help of a third party. This section provides information on seeking formal dispute resolution, including the use of mediation.  

Disagreement Resolution

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Disagreement Resolution can be used to resolve disagreements about any aspect of education, health and care provision in relation to a child or young person’s special educational needs or disability whether or not an EHC assessment is underway, or an EHC Plan is in place. This service does not need to be accessed prior to an appeal to the Tribunal, however it is voluntary and therefore has to be with the agreement of all parties.

The Disagreement Resolution element of the service includes:

  • Disagreement resolution relating to the full ranges of SEN disagreements relating to how relevant authorities, bodies or proprietors are carrying out their education, health and care duties for children and young people with SEN

  • Disagreement Resolution Advice

  • Disagreement Resolution Meetings, which are confidential and held without prejudice to the Tribunal process


Professionals sitting round a table

Mediation services are provided to assist, if parents or young people want it to, the following:

  • A decision by a local authority to not carry out an EHC needs assessment

  • A decision by a local authority to not to draw up an EHC plan;

  • The contents of an EHC plan, description of CYP's SEN specified (Section B), the SEN provision, (Section F) the naming of the school/type of school/no school school named (Section I)

  • The refusal, by the local authority, to amend a EHC plan following a annual review or re-assessment

  • A decision to cease an EHC plan.

Mediation services are specifically linked to decisions about EHC needs assessments and plans, must be contacted and then should be considered prior to any appeal to the Tribunal (except if the appeal is about placement/naming of the school only).

The Mediation support element of the service will be made available to parents, carers, children and young people on a flexible full time equivalent basis. This will include mediation advice; mediation advice including mediation meetings, must:

  • Be factual and unbiased

  • Be confidential and without prejudice

  • Not seek to pressure service users into going to mediation

  • Be held with a mediator

  • Explain that mediation is an informal, non-legalistic, accessible and simple disagreement settlement process run by a trained third party and designed to bring two parties together to clarify issues and reach resolution

  • Outline all relevant timescales

  • Make clear that the parent or young person’s use of mediation is voluntary

  • Outline the benefits of mediation

Mediators must:

  • Be accredited

  • Have significant knowledge of the legislative framework relating to SEND, Health and Social Care (including Single Route of Redress)

  • Promote the mediation aspects of the service as an opportunity to resolve disagreements before an appeal to the Tribunal, by recognising that dispute resolution and formal mediation as set out In the Act are not exclusive

  • Be independent of a local authority

  • Provide that information in a range of accessible formats

Where a parent or young person has chosen not to proceed with mediation, mediators must:

  • Provide, within 3 working days of contact, the necessary certification to evidence that they have received information to enable them to consider mediation but have chosen not to proceed, in order to enable them to exercise their right to lodge an appeal within one month of receiving the certificate

  • Provide a copy of the certification to the relevant LA within 3 working days of contact

The mediation meeting/session must:

  • Clarify the nature of the dispute and ensure that all sides are fully prepared for the mediation session

  • Include all necessary parties; a quorate may be agreed prior

  • Take place at a time and venue which is convenient for all parties

  • Takes place within 30 calendar days of the request (if for any reason this is unlikely, the reasons for delay must be discussed with the relevant local authority

If the meeting is delayed beyond 30 days, then the mediation adviser must issue certification within three days of knowing that a delay will occur in order to ensure that the user’s entitlement to register an appeal with SENDIST is not delayed. When the mediation session has taken place, the mediator must issue certification within 3 working days confirming that the process has been concluded.

Independent advice and mediation in Peterborough

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The SEND Partnership Service can offer impartial information, advice and support if you are considering making an appeal or you need some help to prepare.

Scope can also help you.

In Peterborough, we use Kids as our mediation provider.

Other areas of disagreement

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Placement or Disability Discrimination

If it has not been possible to reach an agreement about the education placement, or if it is a disability discrimination claim, you have the right to appeal. You can use the mediation provider to help resolve the disagreement, but you do not have to obtain a mediation certificate in these cases.

Health and/or social care disagreement

If it has not been possible to reach an agreement regarding the health and/or social care aspects of the plan that are not part of the child or young person’s training or education provision, then the parents or young person can seek mediation as a means to resolve disagreement. In these circumstances, the Local Authority will advise the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), and they will arrange the mediation within 30 days of being notified. However, if mediation does not resolve the disagreement, then this cannot be appealed to the SEND Tribunal. In these circumstances, it would be through the usual NHS or local authority complaints process.

Appeal to tribunal

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Details of how to make an appeal to a tribunal will be provided by the local authority at the appropriate points in the process.  The appeal has to be submitted within one month from the date the certificate was sent by the mediation provider or 2 months from the date of the local authority letter (whichever is the later date), otherwise the right to appeal may be lost.

SEND Tribunal - Single Route of Redress National Trial

A 2-year national trial begins on 3 April 2018 to extend the power of the special educational needs and disability (SEND) tribunal. As part of a special educational appeal, the SEND tribunal will be able to make non-binding recommendations on the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

This guidance sets out the extended powers and duties in the Special Educational Needs and Disability (First-tier Tribunal Recommendations Power) Regulations 2017.

It explains how the appeal process will work, what happens if recommendations are not followed and the support available for commissioners and families.

Further guidance and support for the trial can be found in the SEND national trial toolkit.

You may also find the contents of this newsletter SEND Single Route of Redress National Trial - 10 August 2018 produced by the Department for Education and consultants Mott Macdonald useful

Other complaints

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The information above is quite specific to the EHC plan development. If you have a complaint that is more general to the local authority, education or health provider, you should seek to resolve through their normal complaints processes. An example of this might be if you think a mistake has been made, you have been given incorrect or misleading information, a member of staff has demonstrated inappropriate behaviour, or they have failed to act in accordance with the law or the organisation’s own policies. 

Contact Details

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Please contact the SEN team, the SEND partnership service, or our mediation provider if you would like to access mediation:

SEND partnership service

Statutory Assessment and Moniting (SAMS) team

Mediation service