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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

Mediation

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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.

'KIDS' - SEND Mediation - Resolving disagreements for children and young people with SEND

KIDS Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Mediation helps parents and young people resolve disputes about Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessments and Plans, as well as other SEND related issues.

We have a team of specialist SEND mediators who are very experienced and have nationally recognised SEND mediator accreditations.

Disagreements are usually with the local authority (LA) and sometimes with the school or college. Health and Social Services can also be involved.

Parents and young people can use mediation before making an appeal to the SEND Tribunal. Mediation is very successful and means you may not have to go to tribunal. If you are not happy with the outcome of mediation, you can still make an appeal.

Our service is free of charge. It is for children and young people with SEND (or who may have SEND) age 0 to 25 and their families.

How does Mediation work?

· Mediation is quick and informal and there is little paperwork.

· The mediation meeting takes place somewhere near you and usually within about a month of your request.

· Your caseworker and your mediator help you prepare for the meeting from start to finish and they will answer any questions and concerns you may have.

· Mediators are impartial and do not take sides or tell you what to decide.

· There is just one face-to-face mediation meeting and it takes around 2 to 3 hours with as many breaks as you may need.

· The mediator manages the meeting and makes sure that everybody's voice is heard and that the focus remains on the needs of the child or young person.

· The mediator ensures that everybody works together to find solutions that are in the interest of the child or young person.

· At the end of the meeting the mediator helps put the agreements reached in writing. The mediation agreement is signed by all present and a copy given to everybody. This forms a Contract between the parties

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.

NEWSFLASH - COVID-19 Update – Court and Tribunal Users

The Ministry of Justice have published high-level advice regarding coronavirus on gov.uk, which can be found here.

 This page provides advice and guidance for all court and tribunal users during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and will be updated when new advice is available.

 If there are wider changes to the operational running of the courts this will be communicated in the first instance through their digital channels:

SEND Tribunal - Single Route of Redress National Trial

A 2-year national trial began 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 is 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.

SEND Single Route of Redress National Trial newsletter

If you would like subscribe to the national trial newsletter mailing list to receive updates on the progress of the trial, please email SENDdeliverysupport@mottmac.com

You can read archived newsletters and further information on the trial on the Department for Education and Department for Health's Send dilivery Support Webpage here

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

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