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Sometimes there may be areas where a parent or young person is not happy following all the advice and support they receive about the provision in place through the My Support Plan and EHCP. If this is the case there are routes available to them to progress at a more formal level.
We would advise that where there is a need for support or an area of disagreement, parents and young people should always talk about this with the school/education provider, service or the Local Authority (LA) in the first instance to try and resolve this as soon as possible. You can contact Special Educational Needs Assessment and Review Team (SENART) by phone on 01924 302465 or email SENART@wakefield.gov.uk
Disagreement resolution services are for all parents of children and young people with SEN, and young people themselves with SEN. Using the service is voluntary and covers SEN provision as well as disagreements about health and social care. There are three areas of disagreement that this service can help with:
Within Wakefield the Disagreement Resolution Service is provided via Collis Mediation Ltd who can be contacted on 07715 958290 or email email@example.com. You can find out more about this service here.
Mediation is also a voluntary process for parents/carers and young people, which can be used if you cannot reach an agreement in matters relating to EHC Plans. The service only covers disagreements you might have in the following circumstances:
The LA provides access to an independent mediation advisor who you will need to contact for information about mediation if you wish to go to mediation or are thinking about appealing to the SEND Tribunal. If you decide to go to a mediation meeting, the mediation adviser will inform the LA who will meet you within 30 days.
The mediation service is run by an independent mediator who has accredited training. We aim to ensure that this is at a place and time that is convenient to you and will arrange this with you. You can bring a friend, adviser or advocate to support you. When the mediation has finished the mediation adviser must issue a certificate within 3 working days. You will need this certificate if you wish to register an appeal to the SEND Tribunal. You can also go to mediation about the social care and health parts of an EHC Plan. To do this you must tell the LA that you are unhappy with these parts of the plan. Please notify Special Educational Needs Assessment and Review Team (SENART) by phone on 01924 302465 or email SENART@wakefield.gov.ukWithin Wakefield the SEN Mediation Service is provided via Collis Mediation Ltd who can be contacted on 07715 958290 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find out more about this service here.
What is the National Trial?
The Government are extending the 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 as part of a trial. The trial will apply to decisions made or EHC plans issued/amended from 3 April 2018.
The trial gives you new rights 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. This trial gives you the opportunity to also request recommendations about the health and social care content of the plan at the same time. 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), see below for details.
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:
What does this mean for local areas?
The Trial places responsibility on local authority SEND teams to:
It also places responsibility on health and social care commissioners to:
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 normal 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 trial toolkit of support.
Taking part in the evaluation
There will be an independent evaluation of the trial to inform a decision on whether the new tribunal recommendation powers should be continued after the trial. The evaluation will run alongside the trial, from January 2018 to March 2021.
It is important that the evaluation is based on robust evidence, and the evaluators are therefore strongly encouraging participation from parents and young people. This could include taking part in a telephone or online interview just after the appeal hearing (or when the appeal process has been completed, if earlier), and then a follow-up interview 6 months later. These interviews will help the evaluators to gather the views of parents and young people on the appeal process, as well as identify how recommendations have been implemented and what the (early) impact has been.
Parents and young people that take part in the trial will receive a letter from the Tribunal explaining more about the evaluation and how their personal data will be stored confidentially and how it will be protected.
As a parent or young person, do I have to consider mediation as part of the trial?
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.
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.
Help and further information
From April 2018 to August 2021, there was a Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal National Trial. This tested the extended powers of the First-tier Tribunal / SEND Tribunal. The extended powers meant that appeals could include health and social concerns as well as education. This process is referred to as just the Tribunal.
The Tribunal hears appeals about health and social care parts of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans. The appeals also have to have parts about education. The Tribunal also makes non-binding recommendations. This means that they legally do not have to be followed.
The government have said that the extended powers given to the Tribunal will continue.
You can find out more by reading the SEND tribunal: extended appeals guidance. This will tell you how to appeal and what happens when recommendations are not followed. It will also tell you what support is available.
Last reviewed: 10/02/2020