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Resolving disagreements

If you have a child or young person with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) you can find out what you can do if you disagree with a decision made by a professional, regardless of whether your child has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.

We are fully committed to working with young people, parents and carers in partnership to support young people with SEND.

We aim to make decisions about provision for children and young people with SEND jointly with parents and the young person themselves. The views of the young person and the parents/ carers are important to the process and you will be asked to contribute throughout.

To support this, we will communicate with you in an open way, use the knowledge and experience of the young person, their family and professionals’ advice to help us to make good decisions.

There may be occasions when we may not be able to reach full agreement. The local authority welcomes the opportunity to talk through any concerns you may have. You can do this by contacting the EHC Assessment Team or by speaking to your named case officer.

Disagreement resolution

Disagreement resolution is a free service which gives everybody a chance to give their own views and listen to others in a non-confrontational way. It is a way of seeking solutions that everybody can agree to.  The process is informal, and the service acts to help meaningful discussions to take place. The facilitator is an expert in disagreement resolution and completely independent of everyone. They will understand the SEN processes, procedures, and law, but do not take any part in any decision making.

This service can help if you disagree with:

  • your local authority, school, early years setting or college about how they are carrying out their education, health and care duties (this applies if your child has any kind of SEN – not just those who are going through EHC needs assessment or have an EHC plan)
  • your early years settings, school or college about the SEN provision they are making
  • the health or social care provision during your child’s EHC needs assessment
  • their EHC plan, and any review or reassessment of the EHC plan

You can get details about how to access the service by contacting the EHC Assessment Team.

What is the difference between mediation and disagreement resolution?

The key difference is that mediation is more formally linked to the SEND tribunal legal process.

Mediation for parents of children and young people with SEN

Walsall’s SEND information, advice and support service (SENDIAS) can help when parents do not agree with the decisions made by schools or local authorities (LAs) for their child's special educational needs. SENDIAS can provide impartial advice, information and support about disagreement resolution and mediation. 

SENDIAS has produced a factsheet that tells you everything you need to know about the mediation process. Your right to mediation, will also be provided in correspondence from the local authority.

Download the SENDIAS factsheet.

Tribunals

You can appeal to the SEND tribunal for the following reasons:

  • refusal to secure and EHC needs assessment (statutory assessment)
  • refusal to re-assess
  • refusal to issue an EHC plan
  • following receipt of the final EHC plan, if you are unhappy with the EHC plan’s content or the placement named in the plan
  • refusal to amend the EHC plan following annual review
  • where a proposal is made to cease the EHC plan

We would encourage you to first speak or meet with your EHC assessment team case officer to discuss your concerns.

Information explaining how to register an appeal to the first tier tribunal is contained in all EHC plan decision letters. SENDIAS can also provide independent advice and guidance around tribunals.  You can also get information about how to appeal any of the decisions above on the first tier tribunal (special educational needs and disability) website.

Getting support with disagreement resolution, mediation and appeals

Unlike other tribunal areas, there is no regulation covering representation for SEND tribunals. This means, that anyone can set themselves up as a SEND advocate and can charge for, often unregulated, services. The SEND Information Organisations Group is a network of national organisations who provide free information, advice and support to children and young people with SEND and/or their families. They have produced a useful guide for parents who need support with SEND tribunals or disputes.

Corporate complaints

If you are not satisfied with the council, its services or the actions of its staff, or if you want to thank a service or member of staff for the service they have provided, please let us know by filling in our contact form for general enquiries, requests for service, complaints or compliments. 

Alternatively, you can print and complete our comments, compliments and complaints form.

We welcome all feedback on our services.  If you are dissatisfied with our service tell us why.  Where we can help, we want to take prompt action to address your concerns. Be as specific as possible when filling in this form and complete all the information you can.

Dispute resolution and mediation services

We commission SEND mediation and disagreement resolution services from PRIME RESOLUTION. Their service is free of charge for families. Prime Resolution provide impartial, independent disagreement resolution and mediation for parents/carers, children and young people with SEND (or who may have SEND) age 0 to 25.