Mediation, Disagreement Resolution and Appeals
Where you disagree with a decision made by Peterborough City Council in relation to an Education Health and Care needs assessment or Education Health and Care Plan there is a statutory process which can be initiated and followed to resolve the disagreement.
Wherever possible, Peterborough City Council and its health partners will try and resolve issues or areas of disagreement by meeting and talking.
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 the next steps that can be taken if this is the case.
There are different types of formal dispute resolution; these are:
- Disagreement Resolution
- First-Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal)
View our Resolving disagreements about an Education, Health and Care Plan factsheet.
Mediation is an informal, confidential and voluntary process which involves an independent facilitator (the mediator) helping those in dispute to reach agreements.
- It is free of charge for families
- Mediation can be arranged quickly and is less formal than a First-Tier Tribunal hearing.
- Requests for a mediation meeting must be made by no later than two months from the date of the decision letter that you have received from Peterborough City Council.
Kids Mediation Service are the third party provider for Peterborough City Council.
Who can request mediation?
Parents (in relation to children from 0 to the end of compulsory schooling) and young people (over compulsory school age until they reach age 25) can request mediation where there is disagreement over the following issues:
- Refusal to carry out an Education Health and Care needs assessment or re-assessment
- A decision by the council to not issue an Education Health and Care plan;
- The description of special educational needs set out in Section B of the Education Health and Care plan
- The special educational provision required set out in Section F of the Education Health and Care plan
- The refusal by the council to amend an Education Health and Care plan following an annual review or reassessment
- A decision to cease an Education Health and Care plan
- You can also ask for mediation if you are not satisfied with the health or social care contents of a final Education Health and Care plan
Appealing to the Special Education Needs and Disabilities First-Tier Tribunal
Anyone appealing to the Special Education Needs and Disabilities First-Tier Tribunal needs a certificate from a mediation adviser confirming that they have received information about mediation, unless the appeal relates to Section I only.
You do not have to go to mediation, just receive the mediation advice.
The mediation advice helps you gain a clear idea of what mediation can offer you and how it works, and gives you an opportunity to ask questions.
Mediation advice is usually provided on the telephone and we will give you as much time as you need to have all your mediation questions answered. If after the mediation advice you do not want to take part in mediation, KIDS will provide you with a certificate within three working days so that you can make your appeal.
What happens if you do decide to take part in mediation?
If you do decide to take part in mediation there will be a virtual meeting. These meetings usually take about two hours.
At the meeting the mediator will not be able to advocate for you, or make decisions, but you can be accompanied by a friend or family member if you wish. You also have the right to request support from Peterborough's Special Education Needs and Disabilities Partnership Service, who can also attend.
The Local Authority have a statutory duty to engage in mediation
The Local Authority have a statutory duty to engage in mediation where requested to do so, and a decision making member of the Statutory Assessment and Monitoring Service will always attend the meeting.
A parent or young person can request that other professionals also attend a mediation meeting
A parent or young person can request that other professionals also attend a mediation meeting where they may be able to assist in resolving the areas of disagreement.
This may be your:
- Setting Special Educational Needs Coordinator.
- A specialist teacher.
- A Speech and Language Therapist / Occupational Therapist. Or
- Another professional who knows the child or young person
All agreements will be captured in a binding mediation outcome statement
The Local Authority representative may agree to amend all or part of the decision which you are requesting is reconsidered.
All agreements will be captured in a binding mediation outcome statement which will be signed by and circulated to all parties.
Where areas of diagreement remain that could not be resolved you will now have a right of appeal to the First-Tier Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
There are certain decisions made by the Local Authority which can not be challenged via the mediation process. These are:
- The type or name of setting in Section I of an EHC plan
- Decisions about Personal Budgets
In place of mediation, parents (in relation to children from 0 to the end of compulsory schooling) and young people (over compulsory school age until they reach age 25) can request a disagreement resolution meeting. Disagreement resolution works in exactly the same way as mediation, however the local authority does not have a duty to take part and must agree to engage. In the last two years the local authority have engaged in 100% of the requested disagreement resolution meetings.
Disagreement resolution can also be requested for other types of dispute. Please see the Kids website for more information.
Appeal to First-Tier Tribunal (SENDIST)
The First-Tier Tribunal
The First-Tier Tribunal is responsible for handling appeals against local authority decisions regarding special educational needs, including:
- refusal to carry out a Education Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment
- refusal to issue an EHC plan
- refusal to amend an EHC plan following an annual review or re-assessment
- refusal to reassess
- cease to maintain an EHC plan
- contents of the plan Sections B (child/yp's SEN), F (special educational provision) and I (placement - name and type)
Up until recently, the First-Tier Tribunal has only covered the educational aspects of EHC Plans. However, the Government has extended the powers of the First-Tier Tribunal (SEND) to make non-binding recommendations about the health and social aspects of EHC Plans. Appeals which also consider health and social care aspects of EHC Plans are called extended appeals.
It is only possible for the First-Tier Tribunal to consider the health and/or social aspects of the EHC Plan when you are already making an appeal in relation to the educational aspects of the EHC Plan and the education aspect must remain live throughout the appeal.
If the Tribunal makes a recommendation about health or social care elements of the EHC Plan, this is non-binding. This means that the local authority is generally expected to follow such recommendations but they are not legally binding. Where they are not followed, the reasons for not following them must be explained and set out in writing to you and to the Department of Education. If they are not followed, you have the right to complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) or Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) or seek judicial review.
You can find out more by viewing the GOV.UK First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) webpage.
Anyone appealing to the First-Tier Tribunal needs a certificate from a mediation adviser confirming that they have received information about mediation, unless the appeal relates to Section I only.
As a parent or young person, do I have to consider mediation?
Before you can register an appeal with the First-Tier Tribunal, you must contact a mediation adviser within two months of the LA decision you wish to appeal and consider whether mediation might be a way to resolve your disagreement with the LA. If you want to appeal only about the school or other institution named in the EHC plan you do not have to contact a mediation adviser.
You can go to mediation about the health and social care elements of the EHC plan, provided there is also an education issue about which you are appealing.
Once a mediation adviser has been contacted, or once you have taken part in mediation, you will be issued with a certificate. This will be necessary if you are still unhappy and wish to progress to an appeal with the First-Tier Tribunal. An appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal must usually be made within two months of the decision about which the appeal is being made or one month following the issuing of the mediation certificate, whichever is the later.
If mediation resolves the educational issues, you will not be able to appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal on any health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan. However, mediation provides an opportunity for us to resolve disagreements and it can be completed more quickly than an appeal to tribunal. It does not affect your right to make an educational appeal, and some aspects of the disagreement can go to appeal even when other aspects are resolved.
Help and further information
- A guidance document on extended appeals can be found here.
- Statutory Assessment and Monitoring (SAMS) team - Telephone: 01733 863733 or 863675 Email: SENteam@peterborough.gov.uk
Contact details for SEND Partnership IAS are:
Tel 01733 863979
Challenging SEND First-Tier Tribunal Decisions
Following a First-Tier SEND Tribunal decision either party can apply to the First-Tier Tribunal for the decision to be set aside, reviewed or appealed.
You can only appeal against a First-Tier Tribunal decision if you can demonstrate that the First-Tier Tribunal made (or may have made) an error of law. You cannot appeal simply because you disagree with the conclusion they have reached, or disagree with their interpretation of the facts.
Help and further information
Complaints regarding other matters
The information above is quite specific to the EHC plan development. If you have a complaint about other matters you can find the information on our Compliments and Complaints page.
How to contact
Please contact the Statutory Assessment and Monitoring (SAMS) team, the SEND Partnership Service, or our mediation provider if you would like to access mediation:
- Telephone: 01733 863979
- Email: email@example.com
- Telephone: 01733 863733 or 863675
- Email: SENteam@peterborough.gov.uk
- Telephone: 03330 062 835 (Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm)
- Email: SENmediation@kids.org.uk
- Website: www.kids.org.uk/mediation
SEND First-Tier Tribunal
Tel: 01325 289 350