Frequently Asked Questions

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What is Mediation?

Mediation is a type of disagreement resolution. It involves a meeting between you, the Local Authority (LA) and an independent mediator (Global Mediation in MK), who will try to help you reach agreement on the points of dispute. The mediation may also be attended by other relevant parties such as representatives from the child or young person’s school or college.

Every LA must provide independent mediation to help parents and young people resolve disputes about:

  • A decision not to carry out a Needs Assessment or reassessment providing there has been no new assessment within the previous 6 months
  • Following a Needs Assessment, the LA refuses to issue an EHCP
  • The content of final EHCP or amended plan following an Annual Review
  • A decision to cease to maintain an EHCP

Local Authorities must make arrangements to advise parents and young people on mediation and how to access this as part of the Tribunal appeal process. If you receive a letter indicating one of the decisions above, then you will find guidance on accessing mediation at the end of the letter.

Mediation is voluntary and there is no requirement to have mediation in order to appeal to the SEND Tribunal. However, any appeal to the SEND Tribunal cannot be registered without a Mediation Certificate. Where a parent/carer or young person chooses not to go to mediation when they have spoken to a Mediation Advisor, either during that conversation or afterwards, the Advisor will then issue a Certificate which will then allow an appeal to be lodged. You can find more information on mediation in the SEND Code of Practice 11.13 to 11.38 and on IPSEA’s website.

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What is Informal Dispute Resolution (IDR)?

Informal Dispute Resolution (‘IDR’) is the term given to established methods of resolving disputes other than considering more legal approaches e.g. SEND Tribunal.

By negotiating directly, you will be entering into a flexible and informal dispute resolution process. It is both voluntary and non-binding. The idea is that parties attempt to reach agreement on the matters that are in dispute between themselves, without the assistance of an independent third party. Each ‘negotiator’, potentially the parent/carer or young person on the one hand and the Local Authority (LA) on the other is identified with their separate perspectives and will look at the case from their side’s point of view.

Negotiation should be considered and commenced as soon as possible and as a genuine attempt made to limit the areas of dispute between the parties to potentially avoid the more stressful formal processes available to parents/carers or young people. Negotiation should also be considered even when Tribunal proceedings have been started and are ongoing.

Discussions between the sides usually proceed on a ‘without prejudice’ basis and the sides should attempt to find an outcome that they both agree to. If the discussions do not succeed in settling the matter, the parties’ rights are not prejudiced. This allows parents/carers or young people to then use the Tribunal process if necessary.

If you want to start the process, please contact your SEND caseworker or SENDIAS Team.

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What is the SEND Tribunal National Trial?

Since April 2018, the SEND Tribunal has been running a National Trial where its powers have been extended to make non-binding recommendations about health and social care provision as well as orders about education. The Government has announced that these extended powers will continue when the national trial ends on 31 August 2021.  

Aims of the national trial : When making a SEND appeal, in addition to the educational aspects the trial gives parents and young people new rights to request recommendations about the health and social care needs and provision specified in EHCP. This applies for all SEND appeals apart from those that are only about carrying out an EHC needs assessment.

The trial gives the Tribunal new powers to make non-binding recommendations on the health and social care aspects of EHC plans. It gives parents and young people the opportunity to raise all their concerns about an EHC plan in one place.

The policy aims of the national trial are to:

  • create a more holistic, person-centred view of the child or young person’s needs at the Tribunal
  • bring appeal rights in line with the wider remit of EHC plans
  • encourage joint working between education, health and social care commissioners
  • bring about positive benefits to children, young people and parents

You can find out more on the Government website.

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What is the timeline of a SEND Tribunal Appeal?

Once an appeal to the Tribunal is registered, you will receive a response giving a range of dates by which certain actions must be taken either by the appellant or the Local Authority. Details are in SEND Tribunal Timeline factsheet (PDF, 105KB).

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New to Milton Keynes?

If you are about to move to Milton Keynes and your child has special educational needs, you can find information about SEND support, services and processes on Milton Keynes Local Offer. Some services will be similar and others will differ from what you have had before. Make sure you have copies of any educational and medical reports, assessments and any other important paperwork. Keep these together in one place so you can share them easily if needed..

  • School admissions: In Milton Keynes, state-funded schools (including academies) admit students under the same school admission arrangements, all EHCP places are applied via SEND Caseworker. You can contact Milton Keynes School Admissions team to find out more about school admissions and list of schools.
  • SEN Support: If your child has been receiving special educational support in nursery, school or college, but doesn’t have an EHC plan, any new school or college should continue the support. Ask your child’s current school for a copy of their school plan. This has information in it about your child’s needs and the support they get. It may help to meet with staff at school before you leave so that you know exactly how your child is supported in class. The old school should share information with the new school when you move.
  • Education Health Care Plan (EHCP): When a child or young person moves to another local authority, the old authority must transfer the EHC plan to Milton Keynes Council. When your child’s EHC plan is transferred, Milton Keynes Council becomes responsible for reviewing it and for making sure the special educational support in it is provided. Your case worker from Council will contact the SEND team at MK council to inform them of the move, you as a parent can also contact MK SEND team to check the status of EHCP transfer. 

As with any Local Authority, applications for school places / transfers of EHCPs will require proof of residence at the point of application. This would take the form of a rental agreement or evidence of exchange of contracts if the family is purchasing a property. Without this the process will not begin.

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Last Updated: 30 September 2021