Complaints, constructive criticism, comments and compliments help us to identify what we do well and where we need to make improvements. Slough SENDIASS is covered by the Slough Borough Council complaints procedures as we are an in-house service. If you feel unhappy about the service you have received, your comments will be dealt with in confidence, with fairness and respect.
Many disagreements can be sorted out by talking with the school, college, local authority, or, for health services, the Clinical Commissioning Group.
The SEND Code of Practice says:
Decisions about provision for children and young people with SEN should be made as soon as possible. In most cases this will be achieved by early years providers, schools, colleges, local authorities and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) working closely together and agreeing what should be provided with parents and young people. (11.3)
Sometimes it can be difficult to reach agreement. SENDIASS can help you by providing impartial information, advice and support.
The SEND Code of Practice says:
“Local authorities must make disagreement resolution services available to parents and young people. Use of the disagreement resolution services is voluntary and has to be with the agreement of all parties. The service, while commissioned by it, must be independent of the local authority – no-one who is directly employed by a local authority can provide disagreement resolution services. (11.6)
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 special educational needs. These are about;
- how early years providers, schools and further education institutions carry out their duties for children and young people with SEN. For local authorities this includes keeping education and care provision under review, assessing needs and drawing up Education, Health and Care plans. For governing bodies and proprietors of schools it includes using their “best endeavours” to meet children and young people’s SEN
- the special educational provision made for a child or young person by early years providers, schools or further education institutions. This includes children and young people receiving SEN support and those with EHC plans
- health or social care provision when this part of an EHC needs assessment, while EHC plans are being drawn up, reviewed or when children or young people are being reassessed.
Disagreement resolution services can also be used;
- during EHC needs assessments
- while EHC plans are drawn up
- while waiting for Tribunal appeals
- at review
- during reassessments.
Mediation is a type of disagreement resolution for disagreements that can be appealed to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. The service is free and confidential.
The SEND Code of Practice says:
If parents and young people want it to, mediation can take place following decisions by a local authority not to carry out an EHC needs assessment, not to draw up an EHC plan, after they receive a final EHC plan or amended plan, following a decision not to amend an EHC plan or a decision to cease to maintain an EHC plan. (11.13)
If you wish to register an appeal with the First Tier Tribunal (SEN and disability) you first have to consider whether to enter mediation and obtain a certificate saying you have considered it. This is called mediation advice. If you decide not to go into mediation and tell the mediation adviser, they will send you a certificate within 3 working days and you can then register your appeal. You do not have to go into mediation if you do not want to – you only have to consider whether to or not.
Your local authority must tell you about mediation and who to contact for the initial advice when they send you their decision. You must contact the mediation adviser within two months of getting the decision. Your time limit for appealing to the Tribunal is two months from the date of that decision, or one month from the date of the mediation certificate, whichever is the later.
There is one exception to this rule. You can register an appeal without considering mediation first if the appeal is only about the name of the school, or college, named on the plan, the type of school or college specified in the plan or the fact that no school or other institution is named.
If you choose mediation the local authority (or Clinical Commissioning Group) must take part. The meeting will be arranged within 30 days.
Mediators must be trained and accredited and are independent of the local authority and Clinical Commissioning Group.
If you go over the two month deadline for considering mediation, or want to appeal without a certificate, the law says you can still approach the Tribunal to see if you can register your appeal.
SENDIASS can help you decide if mediation is the right way forward.
You can find out more about mediation in the SEND Code of Practice sections 11.13 to 11.38.
Do I have to choose between making a complaint, using disagreement resolution, appealing to the Tribunal and mediation?
Usually you can follow more than one route. For example you can still make a complaint if you have already tried disagreement resolution. SENDIASS can explain your rights and the different procedures.
The SEND Code of Practice says that parents and young people can appeal to the Tribunal about;
- a decision by a local authority not to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assessment
- a decision by a local authority that it is not necessary to issue an EHC plan following an assessment
- the description of a child or young person’s SEN specified in an EHC plan, the special educational provision specified, the school or other institution or type of school or other institution (such as a mainstream school/college) specified in the plan or that no school or other institution is specified
- an amendment to these elements of the EHC plan
- a decision by a local authority not to amend an EHC plan following a review or re-assessment
- a decision by a local authority to cease to maintain an EHC plan.(11.45)
You can find out more about appeals to the Tribunal in the SEND Code of Practice sections 11.39 to 11.55.
SENDIASS can explain the appeal process to you and provide impartial advice and support.
You can also appeal against a school exclusion. You can find out more about school exclusion appeals from IPSEA, ACE and Coram Children’s Legal Centre.
Where can I get more information, advice or support?
You can find out more about making a complaint about provision at your child’s school on its website or by asking about its complaints procedure.
Slough Local Offer, published by the local authority, includes information about the arrangements for resolving disagreements and for mediation, and details about making complaints. It also tells you about your right to appeal to the Tribunal.
Chapter 11 of the SEND Code of Practice includes a lot more information about complaints procedures, disagreement resolution, mediation advice and mediation.
SENDIASS can give you;
- impartial information about complaints procedures, disagreement resolution and mediation
- impartial advice about what to do if you are unhappy with the support the school or college is providing
- details of other organisations, support groups and information services that might help
- impartial information and advice about your rights to appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (SEN and Disability)
- impartial advice and support through the process of making a complaint, disagreement resolution, mediation or appeal.
National organisations that can also provide information and advice on SEND include:
Coram Children’s Legal Centre at www.childrenslegalcentre.com
Contact a Family at www.cafamily.org.uk
IPSEA at www.ipsea.org.uk