The 'Vision' for all children and young people with SEN-
The vision for all children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities is the same as for all children and young people- "That they achieve well in their early years, at school and in college; and lead happy, independent and fulfilled lives".
What is the process of asking for EHC Needs Assessments and Plans?
Parents, schools and carers can ask the local authority (LA) to carry out an assessment of need for a young person with special educational needs (SEN) if they believe the needs of the young person are not currently being met.
In essence, an LA must conduct an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment’ (EHC) of a child where it believes that the child has special educational needs which are either not being met through school based intervention or where those needs are so substantial that a mainstream school would not be able to meet them effectively from within their own resources.
The LA may decide an EHC Needs Assessment is not required and the needs of the young person are, or can be, met within a 'local offer' managed by the school, such as a 'My Plan' or 'Additional Needs Plan'.
If the local authority decides an EHC Needs Assessment is required it will then carry out such an assessment through Multi Agency Meetings and individual assessments by Education, Health and Care professionals and this process will include the parents.
After the assessment is complete, the LA will consider all the available evidence from the school and professionals, as well as from the parents. Having received this full assessments, the LA must then decide whether to make an EHC Plan.
The LA must notify the parents that they believe that the making of a plan is unnecessary or agree an EHC Plan is required.
An EHC Plan sets out what the needs of the young person are and what provision must be put in place to support them. This must be written in draft form, for agreement by the parents, within a further two weeks, and a proposed draft plan sent to the parents with a copy of all the advices received, (referred to as the ‘Appendices’ to the plan).
The draft EHC Plan is made 'final' once all the sections have been agreed as suitable.
When can I Appeal a decision?
You can appeal a decision your LA makes if:-
Who are Collis Mediation Ltd?
Collis Mediation Ltd are one of the countries leading independent, impartial and confidential (SEN) mediation specialist, contracted by the government, to work with local authorities, parents, carer's and young people to help resolve disagreements about the education of children and young people with special educational needs.
How do I appeal an LA decision?
The LA must give the parents reasons why they are refusing to make an EHC Needs Assessment or an EHC Plan and notify the parents of their right to appeal. They must do this is writing and provide them with the options they have if they wish to start the appeal process. An appeal must be started within two months of the date of the LA’s letter giving them notice of their right to appeal.
The Children and Families Act 2014 (s51-57) has brought in significant reforms, particularly regarding special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), regarding Mediation and Disagreement Resolution services, which must have been in place by 1st September 2014, as an alternative to the SEND Tribunal.
As part of the appeal process, there is the voluntary option for parents, carer's adn young people to first enter into mediation regarding the refusal to conduct an EHC Needs Assessment, provide an EHC Plan after an assessment, if the parent, carer or young person disagrees with the content of an EHC Plan or if the LA refuses to amend an EHC Plan after a review. .
What is Mediation?
The LA and parents always wants to make sure the best support and help is being offered to young people with SEN, but people do not always agree. Mediation is a voluntary process, which allows the parties to come together and discuss concerns about EHC decsions.Indeed the LA want to listen and hear your concerns if you think they have got their decision wrong.
Mediation is an voluntary, informal, non-confrontational and non-judgemental meeting that gives you the opportunity to talk about EHC decisions if you do not agree with them
Collis Mediation chair the meeting and ensures everyone has the same opportunity to speak, listen and be heard. We will ask questions to ensure everyone is considering what is in the best interest of the child or young person with SEN.
What happens at Mediation?
The Mediation is a meeting where concerns and options are discussed around a table. The meeting is confidential and without prejudice, meaning a Tribunal would not take into account anything discussed at Mediation. it is an opportunity to resolve the matter outside of court.
You can bring someone to support you, such as a a teacher, educational psychologist, SENCo or a family member or friend. You can bring reports and crucial information from people who have opinions about the support the young person may need.
The Mediation allows everyone to discuss and consider providing the best education, right support and the same opportunities for the young person with SEN, as everyone else.
Why should I consider Mediation?
Mediation is a proven fast and effective route to resolving differences when initial discussions with the LA SEN Dept. have failed to resolve the matter.
The law says you must now consider Mediation before you lodge an appeal with SEND Tribunal unless the dispute is only about the name or type of school, college named in the EHC Plan. Mediation is a free voluntary service for the parent, carer or young person to use.
Mediation only takes about 3 weeks to arrange as opposed to SEND Tribunals which take approx 12 weeks. The focus at Mediation is about getting the right support as soon as possible, to minimise any disruption to the young persons education.
Speaking face to face allows the LA to get behind the file of paperwork and really understand the young person with SEN, and their needs. Mediation allows you to be part of the decision making when considering the options to move forward.
Actions are agreed on the day of Mediation, not weeks after and if you cannot agree a way forward at the Mediation, you can still appeal to SEND Tribunal up to one month after the Mediation ends, or two months after the original decision, which ever is the later.
Can I appeal to SEND Tribunal and also meet with the Local Authority to try to resolve the dispute?
Often, parents, carer's and young people are concerned about any delay going to mediation may cause in their appeal. However, you can start your appeal to SEND Tribunal and also meet the LA to discuss your concerns and try to resolve the disagreement whilst waiting for your appeal to be heard. This process is called Disagreement Resolution and the SEN Approved Code of Practice issues guidance regarding this under section 11.8 and 11.13: -
11.8- "Disagreement resolution services can also be used to resolve disagreements over special educational provision throughout assessments, the drawing up of EHC plans, while waiting for Tribunal appeals and at review or during re-assessments."
11.13- "Disagreement resolution services can be used at any time, if both parties agree, including while an EHC needs assessment is being conducted, while the plan is being drawn up, after the plan is finalised or while an appeal is going through the Tribunal process."
What is Disagreement Resolution?
The LA must make available a Disagreement Resolution service for parents, carers and young people who have concerns about support; and how it is being provided. this process is voluntary for both parties to enter into.
Mediation is different to Disagreement Resolution because Mediation is used at the end of the assessment or planning process, where as the Disagreement Resolution service can be used at anytime, including whilst waiting for an appeal hearing date; and is an early opportunity to raise concern about support, whether or not there is an EHC Plan.
When can I use the Disagreement Resolution service?
You can access the Disagreement Resolution service:-
How do I know Collis Mediation are suitably qualified?
Collis Mediation Ltd is a ‘Provider Member’ of the Civil Mediation Council, ‘Approved Mediation Provider’ to the Ministry of Justice, a Professional Member of the Society of Mediators, Panel Member of The National Mediator Database, Trustee and Professional Member of the charity Society of Mediators and we adhere to the European Code of Conduct for Mediators.
Our SEN mediation service is delivered in accordance with the requirements of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001, Children and Families Act and in line with the guidance set out in the SEN Approved Code of Practice. This means that you can be assured that our service is delivered to nationally recognised standards and legally compliant.
We work with many local authorities is the UK complying with their strict guidelines and we chair 250+ mediations and disagreement resolution meetings every year, to help resolve disagreements regarding the Education, Health and Care of children and young people with Special Educational Needs.
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Collis Mediation launches their SEN Support Platform and SEN Consultancy Services for local authorities