The Children and Families Act 2014 and SEN Regulations 2014 came into force on 1st September 2014, bringing about a number of changes to the law relating to Special Education Needs (SEN) and more specifically, introducing the requirement for mediation before an appeal can be made to a SEND Tribunal.
What is SEN mediation?
SEN mediation involves an independent third party – a mediator- whose role is to help parents and the Local Authority reach mutually acceptable solutions to any problems they may have. Mediators attempt to do this by developing effective communications and building areas of agreement between the parties. It is not the role of a mediator to give guidance or make any judgements. It is a confidential process, entered into on a voluntary basis. Where the terms of discussions are not disclosed to any party outside of mediation.
When does SEN mediation apply?
From September 2014, any parent or young person wishing to appeal to the SEND Tribunal in relation to the SEN element of an Education Health and Care Plan [Education Health and Care Plans] should contact a local SEN mediator to consider whether or not mediation between themselves and the Local Authority might assist.
The Local Authority should provide details of a local SEN Mediator to all parents/young people who receive an EHC plan.
What can I expect at Mediation?
Parents are invited to speak with a Mediation Advisor by telephone. The advisor will provide more information about mediation and the process, and parents can explain a little more about their case. At the end of this discussion, if parents choose not to mediate, they will receive a Mediation Information/ Awareness Certificate which will allow them to proceed with an appeal to the SEND Tribunal.
If parents/young people chose to proceed with mediation, they will be given at least five days notice of their first joint mediation session with the Local Authority. The parents are entitled to bring a friend or representative. The mediation will take place at a neutral venue, usually the mediator’s office.
Where Mediation is successful, the arrangement will be recorded in writing. If there has been any agreement on a SEN issue the written record will be as legally binding as a Tribunal order and should be complied with.
The cost of attending SEN Mediation is free for all parents and young people and is paid for by the Local Authority.