Sometimes there are disagreements between the local authority and parent carers or young people over decisions made about special educational needs and disability (SEND) issues. It is always recommended you ask for a meeting with a local authority representative to discuss why you are unhappy with a decision they have made.

See what to do if you disagree with a decision for more information.

In some cases where agreement cannot be reached, mediation or a disagreement resolution service can help.

Local authorities are legally obliged to provide SEND mediation and disagreement resolution in relation to disputes with parent carers and young people.

Aims of mediation

Mediation is to consider whether there is a means of resolving your disagreement with the local authority specifically linked to decisions about Education Health and Care Needs Assessments and Education Health and Care Plans. Mediation aims to resolve disagreements in a quick, informal way using a neutral third party (a mediator), to help you reach a resolution. It is confidential, independent of the local authority and free to access.

The SEND Team will provide details of how to contact the mediation service.

In Southend this is provided by KIDS SEND Mediation and Disagreement Resolution service.

Telephone: 03330 062 835 (a local rate number)



What to expect

Mediation is a less formal way of working out a solution. When seeking mediation, an impartial person is appointed as mediator. They arrange a meeting with you and a representative from the local authority to discuss the issues.

The mediator helps to keep the meeting calm, productive, and focused on finding a solution to the issue you are raising. The mediator does not judge or impose a solution but ensures that any settlement is agreed between you and the local authority.

The mediator will make a record of the meeting and the agreements reached. A mediation certificate will be issued shortly after the meeting.

Do I have to use mediation?

You do not need to have a mediation meeting but in most cases, you must consider mediation if you intend to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST). You can decline mediation, but you will still need to contact the mediation service to discuss this as you may require a mediation certificate if you wish to appeal.

You can register an appeal without considering mediation first if the appeal is only about:

  • the name of the school or college named on the EHC Plan
  • the type of school or college specified in the EHC Plan
  • the fact that no school or other institution is named

What if mediation does not resolve the issue?

If mediation has not resolved your issue, you may consider appealing to the Special Education needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST).

Mediation is without prejudice to the Tribunal process and the Tribunal will disregard any offers or comments made during mediation. However partial agreement achieved by use of mediation services can help to focus on the remaining areas of disagreement in any subsequent appeals to the Tribunal.