The Local Authority have a duty to provide SEN Mediation and Disagreement Resolution services. This is commonly known as Mediation.
Mediation is a process in which the people involved in a dispute work together with the help of a mediator to reach an acceptable solution.
The mediator is a specially trained independent facilitator, with knowledge of the legislation relating to SEN, health, and social care, who does not take sides and does not give advice or judgement but manages discussions fairly and confidentially to help people communicate and explore options and to help to clarify the nature of the disagreement in preparation for the mediation session. The child's or young person's needs and interests are always kept at the heart of these discussions.
The law says you have to consider whether to enter mediation before you can register your appeal so at the very least you must contact a mediation adviser, for whom contact details would be provided in the LA's letter. Mediation services are free of charge and in Westminster these are provided by Global Mediation:
Telephone: 020 8441 1355
Parents and young people who wish to make an appeal to the Tribunal may do so providing they have contacted a mediation adviser and discussed whether mediation might be the suitable way to resolve the disagreement.
Parents and young people must receive a certificate from the mediation adviser to register their appeal to the Tribunal. If the parent or young person decides not to go to mediation following contact with the mediation adviser, then they will be issued a certificate within three working days to confirm the parent/young person decision and the information that has been provided.
Nevertheless, if you have never had a proper talk with the LA about why they have refused assessment, mediation may help to clarify things. You might also consider it to give yourself more time to appeal as if you enter mediation, your deadline for registering an appeal changes: your deadline then becomes one month from the date a certificate is issued after the mediation session, and that session must be arranged within 30 days of the LA being informed that you want to mediate.
The Mediation Process
The reasons parents and young people can go through mediation are:
1) the local authority's decision:
not to carry out an EHC needs assessment
not to isuue an EHC plan
not to amend the EHC plan except for 'Section I' where you dont need a mediation certiccate if you are appealing about the eduaction setting only
to cease to maintain an EHC plan
If the parent or young person proceeds with mediation then the local authority have a duty to make sure the mediation session takes place within 30 days of the mediation adviser informing them of the parent or young person’s decision. The local authority or the mediator will then take responsibility for organising the mediation session.
The parent or young person must be accompanied by a friend, adviser or advocate in the mediation sessions. The child might in cases also be able to accompany their parent/s to the mediation session upon request.