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Visual Impairment :
Special Educational Needs
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Resolving disputes

Parents can be dissatisfied with various aspects of the EHCP process or the way in which the provision the child/young person (CYP) needs is implemented by the education provider. There are different ways of raising issues and trying to resolve disputes. The principle of the Children and Families Act is to try and resolve disputes quickly.

Section 11 of the SEN Code of Practice gives details of the procedures for resolving disputes and disagreements with LAs.

11.3     Decisions about provision for children and young people with SEN should be made as soon as possible. In most cases this will be achieved by early years providers, schools, colleges, local authorities and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) working closely together and agreeing what should be provided with parents and young people.

11.4     However, where agreement cannot be reached, early resolution of disagreements benefits parents and young people and can avoid unnecessary stress and expense.

Disagreement Resolution Services

The LA must have disagreement resolution service available to parents and young people, providing a quick and non-adversarial way of resolving disagreements. Used early in the process of EHC needs assessment and EHC plan development they can prevent the need for mediation, once decisions have been taken in that process, and appeals to the Tribunal.  However, using a disagreement resolution service does not affect the right to lodge a SEND appeal. Disagreement resolution is the responsibility of the LA but must ensure that the service is impartial and that the resolution facilitators are independent and have the appropriate experience, skills and knowledge.


Mediation can take place following decisions by a local authority not to carry out an EHC needs assessment, not to draw up an EHC plan, after they receive a final EHC plan or amended plan, following a decision not to amend an EHC plan or a decision to cease to maintain an EHC plan.

The LA must make arrangements for parents and young people to have information about mediation. Mediators must be independent and can not be anyone employed by a local authority. Mediation is a pre-requisite of being able to lodge an appeal with SEND, so it is important for parents/carers to contact a mediator as soon as possible. The SEN code of practice states :

11.18    Parents and young people who wish to make an appeal to the Tribunal may do so only after they have contacted an independent mediation adviser and discussed whether mediation might be a suitable way of resolving the disagreement.

11.19    When the local authority sends the parent or young person notice of a decision which can be appealed to the Tribunal it must tell the parent or young person of their right to go to mediation and that they must contact a mediation adviser before registering an appeal with the Tribunal. The notice must give the contact details of a mediation adviser, contain the timescales for requesting mediation and the contact details of any person acting on behalf of the local authority who the parent or young person should contact if they wise to pursue mediation. The notice should also make clear that parents’ and young people’s right to appeal is not affected by entering into mediation.

  • Parents contact mediator following LA’s decision

  • Mediator informs LA about parents’ request for mediation

  • LA must ensure mediation takes place within 30 days of being informed and must attend mediation session

  • If LA cannot arrange mediation within 30 days on an issue that can be appealed to the SEND tribunal the mediator will issue a certificate within 3 working days

  • If mediation takes place the mediator will issue a certificate within 3 working days. If agreement has not been reached parents can lodge an appeal to the SEND tribunal.

  • Parents have 1 month from the issue of the certificate or 2 months form the LA’s original decision, whichever is later, to lodge an appeal. No appeals are accepted after these dates.

    Note : The mediator’s certificate is necessary for all appeals, except those which only deal with choice of school. The certificate does not include any details of the case or the mediation session. The Tribunal hearing will deal with the appeal separately and on the facts of the case.