Disputes and Disagreements

Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities and / or their parents may at times disagree with the decisions made and services offered under the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice.

Hopefully,most will be dealt with informally. We will listen to what you tell us and try to reach agreement with you. If we can’t resolve the disagreement immediately there are a number of avenues you can take in order to help find a successful resolution.

The Sefton SEN & Disability Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) can support parents and young people in all their discussions with school or the Local Authority and help advocate for you to have your views listened to and taken into account. SENDIASS can help mediate where relationships have broken down and can support you through any formal processes if necessary, up to and including tribunal. The service is impartial, confidential and free for young people aged 0-25 and their parents. SENDIASS

The Children and Families Act 2014 also places a duty on local authorities and other responsible bodies to develop and engage in a more formal process for resolving disagreements about the provision of services to children and young people who have, or are seeking, an Education, Health and Care plan.

Responsible Bodies include

  • Local authority
  • Schools
  • Early years providers
  • 16+ education providers
  • NHS services
  • Social care services

The disagreement resolution process applies to how disagreements are resolved between parents / carers or young people and the Local Authority or other responsible bodies about how education, health and care duties are being carried out for children and young people with SEN.

These duties include duties on:
The Local Authority 

  • to keep their education and care provision under review,
  • to assess and draw up EHC plans

Governing Bodies and Proprietors of Independent Educational Provision

  • To use their best endeavours to meet children and young people’s SEN. 

It also applies to disagreements between parents/carers or young people and responsible bodies about the special educational provision made for a child or young person within the school setting, whether they have plans or not.

Disagreement resolution can take place alongside other complaints procedures and can be used before, at the same time, or after those procedures.

Mediation should be offered in relation to disagreements that are specified matters which can be the subject of an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (Single Route of Redress – National Trial).

Complaints about other matters should be referred to the responsible body’s own complaints procedures.

What is the first step in resolving a dispute?
We would always encourage you to speak to the person or provider you have the dispute or disagreement with first. Most issues and concerns can be resolved quickly through discussion and agreement. This is often called local resolution.

What help can I get?
You can get information, advice and guidance from Sefton Information Advice and Support Service. They are impartial and can work with you, the local authority and other responsible bodies to find ways to resolve the issues.

What happens if the problem isn’t sorted out?
The best process for you will depend on what your dispute or disagreement is about and what you choose to do from the options available.

You can get advice and guidance on which process to follow from:
Sefton Information, Advice and Support Service

Sefton Council Customer Response Team
1st Floor, Magdalen House
Trinity Road
Bootle
L20 3NJ 
Tel: 0151 934 3628
Email childrenscomplaints@sefton.gov.uk

Here are some examples:

1. The Local Authority has refused to issue an Education, Health and Care Plan for my child.


When the Local Authority issues its decision, the letter must give you details of how to appeal to the tribunal and how to get mediation advice.

You must consider mediation before appealing to the SEN & Disability Tribunal (SENDIST), so before registering your SENDIST appeal, you must contact a mediation advisor who will explain the process to you. You do not have to enter mediation if you don't want to. If you decide against mediation, the medation advisor will issue a certificate saying that the process was explained to you and that you considered it; only then can you appeal to SENDIST. You have 2 months to appeal to SENDIST from the date the Local Authority's letter OR 1 month from the date of the mediation, whichever is later.

If the parent or young person does want mediation the local authority must participate.

If the mediation doesn’t resolve the issues you can appeal to SENDIST.

2 The NHS has refused to provide Speech and Language Therapy for my child.

You can request mediation. If you request this the NHS must arrange this and they must participate.

OR

You can make a complaint under the NHS complaints procedure.

3 I don’t have an Education, Health and Care Plan but I do have additional needs. My school isn’t giving me the help I need

You can request Disagreement Resolution. This is independent of the school and the local authority.

You can make a complaint under the school’s complaints procedure.

REMEMBER

Disagreement resolution can take place alongside other complaints procedures and can be used before, at the same time, or after those procedures.

4 I am unhappy with the assessment of my social care needs

If you are under 18 you can make a complaint under the Children’s social care complaints procedure.If you are 18 or over you can make a complaint under the Adult social care complaints procedure.

5 My child's Education, Health and Care Plan is great but I want him to go to a different school from the one named in part 4.

When the Local Authority issues its decision, the letter must give you details of how to appeal to the tribunal. If the dispute is only about the named school, you do not need to get a mediation certificate. You can appeal immediately.

6 My child's school has not put in place the support identified in her Education, Health and Care Plan.

You can request Disagreement Resolution. This is independent of the school and the local authority.

You can make a complaint under the school’s complaints procedure.

REMEMBER

Disagreement resolution can take place alongside other complaints procedures and can be used before, at the same time, or after those procedures.

7 My children are not receiving the Health or Social Care support specified in the Education, Health and Care Plan and this is impacting on their education.

You can request Disagreement Resolution. This is independent of the local authority and the NHS. You can have one disagreement resolution process for all the services you are in dispute with and sort everything out at the same time.

If a child is under 18 you can make a complaint under the Children’s social care complaints procedure.

If they are 18 or over you can make a complaint under the Adult social care complaints procedure.

You can make a complaint about the health issues under the NHS complaints procedure.

REMEMBER

Disagreement resolution can take place alongside other complaints procedures and can be used before, at the same time, or after those procedures.

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