Resolving disagreements about Special Educational Needs ( SEN ) provision
Many disagreements can be sorted out by talking to the early years provider, school, college, local authority or health service.
Early resolution of any disagreements is best for everyone. If you need further information, advice or guidance for your child Cheshire East Information Advice and Support (CEIAS) provide an independent and free service for both young people with SEND and parent carers. Email: email@example.com .
If your disagreement relates to an education, health and care needs assessment or plan, contact your named 0-25 SEND Keyworker, or the SEND Team in the first instance as most disagreements can be resolved through informal discussion at an early stage.
Disagreement resolution services
Disagreement resolution arrangements cover all children and young people (aged over 16 years) with Special Educational Needs (SEN) not just those who are being assessed for, or who have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
Use of the disagreement resolution service is voluntary and has to be with the agreement of all parties.
Disagreement resolution is used to help resolve 4 types of disagreement and/or prevent them from escalating further.
- Disagreements between parents and young people and the Local Authority, governing bodies of maintained schools, early years providers, further education institutions or the proprietors of academies including Free Schools
Disagreement about how these bodies are carrying out their education, health and care duties for children and young people with SEN , whether they have EHC Plans or not. These include duties on the LA to keep its education and care provision under review, the duties to assess needs and draw up EHC Plans and the duty of governing bodies and proprietors to use their best endeavours to meet children and young people’s SEN .
- Disagreements between parents and young people and early years providers, schools or post-16 institutions
Disagreement about the special educational provision made for a child or young person, whether they have an EHC Plan or not
- Disagreements between parents and young people and Clinical Commissioning Group (health) or the Local Authority
Disagreement about health or social care provision during EHC needs assessments, while EHC Plans are being drawn up, reviewed or when children or young people are being reassessed. It can be used whilst an EHC Plan is being drawn up or whilst waiting for Tribunal appeals.
- Disagreements between the Local Authority and Health commissioning bodies. These disagreements do not involve parents and young people.
Disagreements about the drawing up of EHC Plans or reviews of the Plans during EHC needs assessments or reassessments. This could include the description of the child or young person’s education, health and care needs and provision set out in the Plan.
Disagreement resolution meetings are confidential. Partial agreement achieved by use of disagreement resolution services can help to focus on the remaining areas of disagreement.
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 the issues, and reach a resolution.
Mediation arrangements are specifically linked to decisions about EHC needs assessments and plans.
You can approach the SEND team or your 0-25 SEND officer to discuss any issues at any point during the assessment process without the need for formal intervention. If parents or young people want to engage with mediation then the local authority must attend the mediation meeting.
Mediation may successfully resolve issues in a timely way and represents an improved process and experience for parents and young people. Mediation can lead to the resolution of a dispute without the need to proceed to tribunal.
Successful mediation requires both parties to allow the mediator to facilitate discussion about the areas in dispute and to acknowledge and work together to try to resolve them.
The mediation meeting will take place on neutral ground.
Further details about mediation can be found in the SEN and Disability Code of Practice page 228 paragraphs 11.13-11.38.
Disagreement Resolution and Mediation Services for Cheshire East residents
Residents of Cheshire East who wish to engage in the disagreement resolution or mediation to resolve disagreements regarding decisions about Education Health and Care Plans should contact The Together Trust Mediation and Disagreement Resolution Service. They can be contacted by telephone 0161 283 4848 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you cannot reach agreement with the local authority about decisions relating to an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment or an Education, Health and Care Plan through discussion with your named 0-25 First-tier Tribunal (SEND) Officer or mediation there is still the right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal (First-tier Tribunal (SEND)). Young people will be fully involved in decisions that concern them and, where a disagreement involves a young person over the age of 16, the young person should appeal to First-tier Tribunal (SEND) themselves, wherever possible.
Parents and young people who wish to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (SEND) may only do so after they have contacted an independent mediation adviser (as described a from the date the local authority sent the notice containing the decision to register an appeal to First-tier Tribunal (SEND) above) and either attended mediation or received a certificate confirming that they have been advised about mediation.
The exception to this is if the appeal is only about the type or name of school, college or other institution named in the Plan or if no school, college or other institution is named.
Parents and young people have:
- 2 months from the date the local authority sent the notice containing the decision to register an appeal to First-tier Tribunal (SEND) or
- 1 month from the date a certificate is issued following mediation or a parent or young person is given mediation information, whichever is later.
The reasons for appeal are:
- a decision by a local authority not to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assessment
- a decision by a local authority that it is not necessary to issue an EHC plan following an assessment
- the description of the child or young person’s SEN in the Plan, the special educational provision specified, the school or other institution specified in the plan, or type of school or other institution or if no school or institution is named
- an amendment to the above elements of the plan
- decision not to amend following review or reassessment
- decision to cease to maintain the plan
The Tribunal does not hear appeals about personal budgets but will hear appeals about provision to which a personal budget may apply.
The tribunal hearings are held in tribunal service buildings as close to the appellant’s home area as possible. For Cheshire East residents it is usually Manchester or Stoke on Trent.
Tribunal appeals are heard by a panel comprising of a judge who is a lawyer and 1 or 2 members who have knowledge and experience of SEN .
The tribunal will look at all the evidence supplied by parents or young people and the local authority and make a final decision.
Further details about the SEN Tribunal can be found in the SEN and Disability Code of Practice page 235 paragraphs 11.39-11.52 or on the GOV.UK website.
First-tier Tribunal (SEND)
The Government have extended the powers of the First-tier Tribunal (SEND) to make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans following a national trial that ended in August 2021.
Find out more about extended powers following the national trial on the following page SEND Tribunal single route of redress national trial.