Wherever possible issues and disagreements should be discussed and resolved at the earliest opportunity. This may be an informal chat with a teacher, social worker or health professional initially. Schools, colleges and services will have their own published policies and/or guidance for addressing complaints and disagreements and the arrangements described below are not intended to replace these.
However, it is recognised that there may be instances where a more formal opportunity for meeting and talking with those involved in supporting children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities, facilitated by an independent and neutral third party, is required. Such discussions would include the parents and carers. They may also involve the children and young people themselves, as appropriate.
This page sets out the different processes available depending on the nature of the issue/disagreement, in line with the SEND Code of Practice 2015 and updated to include the Single Route of Redress which came into force in April 2018.
DRS is the process for exploring and addressing issues about any aspect of SEN provision, including health and social care disagreements. The child or young person does not have to have, or be in the process of being assessed for, an Education, Health and Care Plan in order to access the disagreement resolution process. It is intended to provide a quick and non-adversarial way to resolve disagreements.
Following a tendering process Global Mediation Ltd was appointed to provide a Disgareement Resolution Service across the East Midlands region. This service is free of charge to users and their contact details are as follows:
Tel: 0800 064 4488 or from a mobile phone at local rate on 0208 441 1355
For more information on Global Mediation Ltd please click here or on the image below:
Mediation Services are specifically focused on issues and disagreements relating to the Education, Health and Care (EHC) process. Parents have the right of appeal to the First Tier tribunal if they disagree with a Local Authority decision within the EHC process, e.g.:
- The LA decides that an EHC needs assessment is not necessary
- After an EHC needs assessment is completed, the Local Authority decides that an EHC plan is not necessary
- Other changes to the EHC plan following the Annual Review process
Before you can register an appeal with the Tribunal, you must contact a mediation adviser within two months of the LA decision you wish to appeal and consider whether mediation might be a way to resolve your disagreement with the LA. If you want to appeal only about the school or other institution named in the EHC plan you do not have to contact a mediation adviser.
You can go to mediation about the health and social care elements of an EHC plan, but this is not compulsory. You can request recommendations about health and social care issues without having to receive mediation advice or attend mediation about those issues, provided there is also an education issue about which you are appealing.
Once a mediation adviser has been contacted, or once you have taken part in mediation, you will be issued with a certificate. This will be necessary if you are still unhappy and wish to progress to an appeal with the Tribunal. An appeal to the Tribunal must usually be made within two months of the decision about which the appeal is being made or one month following the issuing of the mediation certificate, whichever is the later.
Following a tendering process Global Mediation Ltd was appointed to provide mediation advice across the East Midlands region. This service is free of charge to users and can be accessed via the following Freephone number – 0800 064 4488 or from a mobile phone at local rate on 0208 441 1355.
For more information on Global Mediation Ltd please click here or on the image below:
If mediation resolves the educational issues, you will not be able to appeal to the Tribunal on any health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan. However, mediation provides an opportunity for us to resolve disagreements and it can be completed more quickly than an appeal. It does not affect your right to make an educational appeal, and some aspects of the disagreement can go to appeal even when other aspects are resolved.
What is the First Tier Tribunal?
When Local Authorities make certain decisions about the education and/or training of a child or young person with special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND), there is a right of appeal. The First Tier Tribunal is an independent national tribunal, which hears parents and young people's appeals against Local Authority decisions about the special educational needs of children and young people.
What reasons can I appeal a decision?
You can take a case to the SEND Tribunal for the following reasons if a Local Authority:
- refuses to carry out an EHC Needs Assessment or re-assessment;
- refuses to issue an EHC Plan;
- issues or amends an EHC Plan but you disagree with any or all of Section B (special educational needs), Section F (special educational provision) or Section I (placement);
- decides not to amend an EHC Plan after an annual review;
- decides to cease to maintain the EHC Plan at any point.
Who can appeal a decision?
If the decision concerns a child, it is the parent who has the right of appeal. If the decision concerns a young person (16-25), then it is the young person who has the right of appeal. However, if there is an agreement that a young person does not have the capacity to make the appeal, in most cases a parent will be the 'alternative person' and can register the appeal.
You must consider mediation before an appeal
Before taking an appeal to the SEND Tribunal, you must consider mediation. This does not mean that mediation is compulsory, but it must be considered. Parents and young people will need to obtain a certificate to demonstrate that they have at least considered mediation prior to lodging an appeal, or a certificate to say they have taken part in mediation. The exception to this is if you are appealing only about the school or college placement, or where no school or college is named and you are appealing about that fact.
Details of the mediation service can be found in the drop down section above on this page.
Further guidance and appeal forms
For further guidance on the First Tier Tribunal please click here https://www.gov.uk/courts-tribunals/first-tier-tribunal-special-educational-needs-and-disability .
To access the appeal forms please click here https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/special-educational-needs-and-disability-tribunal-forms
Single Route of Redress – SEND Tribunal Extended Powers
What is the outcome of the National Trial?
The National Trial commenced from April 2018 to August 2021 testing the extended powers for the SEND Tribunal. The department commissioned an independent evaluation of the National Trial which found broadly positive evidence in support of the Tribunal’s extended powers.
Therefore, the Government has confirmed that they are continuing the extended powers of the First-tier Tribunal (SEND), sometimes referred to as the ‘SEND Tribunal’, to make non-binding recommendations about the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans..
Previously, you have only been able to appeal the educational aspects of EHC plans. The continuation of the extended powers given to the SEND Tribunal, maintains your right to request recommendations about the health and social care needs and provision specified in EHC plans, in addition to the educational aspects, when making a SEND appeal. This gives you the opportunity to raise all your concerns about an EHC plan in one place.
It is only possible for the Tribunal to consider the health and/or social care aspects of the EHC plan where you are already making an appeal in relation to the education aspects of the EHC plan and the education aspect must remain live throughout the appeal.
What does this mean for parents and young people?
If you are unhappy with a decision not to issue an EHC plan, or with the special educational content or placement in the plan, you can make an appeal to the SEND Tribunal. You are also able to request recommendations about the health and social care content of the plan at the same time, provided there is also an education element. This will mean the Tribunal will take a more holistic, person-centred view of the needs of the child or young person.
This does not prevent you also complaining about other aspects of your disagreement through other complaint procedures. You should seek advice about the different routes available, including from your local Information Advice and Support Service (IASS).
If the SEND Tribunal makes a recommendation about health or social care elements of an EHC plan, this is non-binding. The local authority and/or health commissioner is generally expected to follow such recommendations, but they are not legally binding. Where they are not followed, the reasons for not following them must be explained and set-out in writing to you and to the Department for Education through the evaluators. If they are not followed, you can complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) or Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) or seek to have the decision judicially reviewed. Further information on the roles of these bodies can be found on their websites.
When can a parent or young person request recommendations about the health and social care elements of an EHC plan?
You can request the Tribunal makes recommendations about the health and/or social care aspects of EHC plans as part of an appeal relating to:
- the description of the child/young person’s special educational needs in an EHC plan
- the special educational provision specified in an EHC plan
- the school or other educational institution named in an EHC plan
- a decision by the local authority not to issue an EHC plan
- a decision by the local authority not to carry out a re-assessment for a child/young person who has an EHC plan
- a decision by the local authority not to amend an EHC plan following a review or re-assessment
- a decision by the local authority to cease to maintain an EHC plan
What does this mean for local areas?
The SEND Tribunal extended powers places responsibility on local authority SEND teams to:
- Inform parents and young people of their new rights through decision letters and the local offer
- Provide evidence to the Tribunal from the health and social care bodies in response to any issues raised within the timeframe set by the Tribunal, seeking permission to bring additional witnesses to the hearing as necessary
It also places responsibility on health and social care commissioners to:
- Respond to any request for information and evidence within the timeframe set by the Tribunal
- Send a witness to attend the hearing as required
- Respond to the parent/young person and the LA SEND team within 5 weeks of a recommendation being made, setting out the steps they have decided to take or giving reasons why they are not going to follow the recommendation.
How can a parent or young person request a health or social care recommendation?
If you wish to appeal against a local authority decision on any of the grounds above and want to request that the Tribunal considers your concerns about the health and /or social care aspects of the EHC plan, you should follow the process for bringing an appeal to the Tribunal and tick the box on the form relating to a health and/or social care appeal. Advice on making SEND appeals to the Tribunal and the appeal form is available on the GOV.UK website and further guidance can be found in the toolkit of support.
If you are a young person aged 16 -25 in school or college and have a complaint or dispute about the education provision you are receiving and need help to sort these problems out you can access guidance on this called 'SEND Complaints: A Guide for Young People In Education' You can view it by please clicking here or on the icon below:
Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Mediation and Disagreement Resolution Services are detailed in Chapter 11 of The SEND Code of Practice (0-25).
Chapter 11 tells you how disagreements between yourself and School, Health, Social Care and or the Local Authority can be addressed. It shows you the types of disagreement you may be having and tells you who you should write to to address those concerns so that disagreements can be resolved as quickly as possible.
The link below will take you to chapter 11 of The SEND Code of Practice (0-25) and will help you to understand your options and your rights when faced with a disagreement about the Special Educational Needs provision that is being made for you or your child / young person.
Please click here for more information or on the icon below:
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) looks at complaints about councils and some other authorities and organisations, including education admissions appeal panels.The service is free, independent and impartial. Please click here to access their website: LGSCO
PLEASE NOTE: Before you make a complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman you first must have made a complaint to the Local Authority for them to investigate and try and put things right. For further information on how to make a complaint on Nottinghamshire County Council Services including school admission please here NCC Complaints
Information, Advice and Support Services (IASS) offer free, impartial and confidential information, advice and support to disabled children and young people, and those with SEN from birth to 25, and their parents/carers. They are statutory services, which means there has to be a service in every Local Authority. In Nottinghamshire the service if offered by Ask Us. Watch this animation, which explains all of the support on offer from IASS:
Ask Us Nottinghamshire
Ask Us Nottinghamshire offer the following support services for parents/carers of children and young people with SEND:
- Telephone helpline.
- Face-to-face support.
- In-depth casework support for parents including attendance at education-related meetings.
- Support to request EHC Needs Assessment and with the EHCP process and appeals.
- Advice and support relating to exclusions of children/young people with SEND.
Ask Us Nottinghamshire can be accessed via email: email@example.com or tel: 0800 1217772