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Information on disagreement resolution and mediation processes for children with special educational needs and disabilities

Parents of children with SEND expect that the services they receive will support their child to reach their desired aspirations and outcomes. Royal Greenwich works in partnership with parents to achieve this and always hopes to resolve any disagreements at an early stage.

These disagreements may occur between the parents and the school, or parents and the Local Authority or Health Service.

Special Educational Needs Officers in Royal Greenwich work closely with schools to resolve any differences themselves and are usually able to resolve disagreements between them and parents. You can contact the SEN team on 020 8921 8029 or special-needs@royalgreenwich.gov.uk

There may be times, however, when parents or carers feel that they would like an independent person to support them in a disagreement they have with the SEN team or with other services that they feel should be supporting them.

If you still have a problem you might be able to:

  • Seek some help to put your concerns forward
  • Make a complaint
  • Ask for independent disagreement resolution or mediation
  • Appeal against a decision.

Greenwich SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service)

Royal Greenwich SENDIASS is available to provide advice and support to any Greenwich families with a child with a special educational need, or where parents believe their child may have a SEN. The service offers parents information, advice and guidance so they can make appropriate, informed decisions regarding the learning of their children.

This includes:

  • Listening to parents concerns
  • Telephone information, support and advice
  • Written information about SEND
  • Help for parents to understand letters and reports from services and professionals working with their child
  • Help to write letters about their child’s SEND
  • Accompany parents to meetings at their school or early learning setting
  • Liaising with other children’s services
  • Home visits, if required

This is a confidential service and information is only shared with the parent’s or carer’s permission unless there are concerns about the safeguarding of a child.

They can be contacted on 020 8921 8402.

Making a Complaint

All schools and colleges in Royal Greenwich have a complaints procedure. They will send you a copy if you ask for it.

In most cases you will need to:

  • Have tried to resolve your complaint by speaking to the right people
  • Put your complaint in writing using the word ‘complaint’
  • Be clear about all the issues you would like resolving
  • State what you would like to happen
  • Give a reasonable time by which you would like a response

If you are not happy with the outcome of making a complaint or feel that it has not been dealt with properly, you should appeal to the school governing body.

Parents can also choose to use a more independent disagreement resolution or mediation service to resolve disagreements across education, health and social care

Parents can contact themselves directly on: 020 7365 3635. They also have a website at www.kids.org.uk

Both are free but there is a difference between the 2 services:

Disagreement Resolution Service:

The purpose of disagreement resolution is to look for a way forward that all parties accept. This service is available to all children and young people with SEN – with or without a statement or plan. You can choose whether or not to use it.

The disagreement resolution service is there to help resolve three kinds of disagreement between parents or young people and the organisations that are responsible for making provision for children and young people with SEN. These are:

  • Between parent/young people and their education providers – early years setting, schools or colleges
  • Between parents/young people and the Local authority or health commissioning group – this may be during an EHC assessment, during an EHC review, or during a reassessment – but can be used for children with SEN who does not have a statement or EHC plan.
  • Between the Local Authority and the health commissioning group

Disagreement resolution is voluntary and all parties have to agree for it to take place.

The meetings are confidential and if you later appeal to the SENDIST tribunal, the tribunal will disregard any offers or comments made during the meeting.

If you decide not to use disagreement resolution, you can still appeal to the SENDIST tribunal.

Royal Greenwich SENDIASS can help you decide whether dispute resolution is right for you (020 8921 8402).

Mediation

If the disagreement relates to a statement or Education, Health and Care plan – you can ask for independent mediation.

Parents and young people over 16, have the right to go to mediation following a decision by the Local Authority:

  • Not to carry our an EHC needs assessment
  • Not to draw up an EHC plan
  • Not to amend a statement or EHC plan
  • To cease to maintain a statement or EHC plan

Or on the content of a final or amended EHC plan – including the health and social care element of the plan.

However before registering an appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) about the SEN elelment of the plan you must contact the mediation service within two months of the date of the relevant decision letter to obtain a certificate to say that you have discussed mediation UNLESS:

(a)The appeal is solely about the name of the school, college or other institution named on the plan;

(b)The type of school, college or other institution specified in the plan or;

(c) The fact that no school or other institution is named.

Entering into mediation does not affect the right to appeal to the Tribunal.

What will the mediation adviser do?

The Mediation Advisor will provide information over the telephone about mediation and answer any questions about the mediation process.

Once you have received this information you can decide whether you want to go to mediation about the SEN element of the Plan.

If you do not wish to go to mediation:- simply let the medication adviser know and they will proide you with a certificate confirming that you have received mediation informatiom. The mediation adviser must send you the certificate within three working days of you telling them that you do not want to go to mediation. The certificate will enable you to lodge your appeal, either within two months of the date of this letter or within one month of receiving the certificate whichever is the later.

You can also ask for mediation on the health and social care element of the place - you do not have to speak to a mediation adviser first. If you are asking for mediation on health - you will have to say what the issues are and what provision you would like.

If you do choose to go to mediation, the meeting must take place within 30 days and the Local authority must agree. If the mediation is only about health provision, the Local Authority has to inform the health commissioning group within 3 days and they must arrange the meeting within 30 days.

Once the mediation meeting has taken place, KIDS will issue a certificate within 3 days, and if you still wish to appeal to the SENDIST tribunal – you will have to send this to the tribunal.

If the mediation has not been successful, parents or young people can also appeal to a Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) in the following cases:

  • A decision not to carry out an EHC needs assesment or re-assessment
  • A decision not to issue an EHC plan foloowing assessment
  • The description of a child's SEN specified in an EHC plan; the special provision specified; the school or other institution specified in the plan or that no school or other institution is specified.
  • An amendment to these elements of the EHC plan
  • A decision not to amend an EHC plan following a review or re-assessment
  • A decision to cease to maintain an EHC plan

The Royal Greenwich SENDIASS Service will be able to advise you on this process (0208 921 692)

Complaints about the social care or health element in a plan

For social care complaints you should contact:

childrens-complaints@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or 020 8921 3082

For decisions made by the NHS Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group you should contact greccgcomp@nhs.net or greccg.nhsgreenwich@nhs.net

If you need help to make a complaint about services commissioned or provided by the NHS you can contact Voiceability by calling 0330 088 3762 or email nhscomplaints@voiceability.org