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Special Educational Needs: Appeals

Question for Department for Education

UIN 3735, tabled on 17 May 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the policy proposal in the SEND Review to make mediation mandatory before allowing families to go to the SEND Tribunal, what assessment he has made of the potential impact of that policy on the mental health of parent carers through placing additional requirements to engage and negotiate with service providers on top of their caring responsibilities.

Answered on

23 May 2022

This government’s proposals set out in the Special Educational Needs (SEND) and Alternative Provision Green Paper, which is subject to consultation, seek to enable issues to be resolved earlier and improve relationships locally by strengthening mediation, including consulting on making it mandatory.

In the current system, in most cases, families must secure a mediation certificate before registering an appeal with the tribunal, but they do not have to participate in the mediation itself. If the parent or young person does decide to proceed with mediation, then the local authority must ensure that it arranges for mediation between it and the child's parent or young person, within 30 days. Mediation is effective in the majority of cases. In 2021, 74% of mediation cases were settled without the need to progress to tribunal. Mediation is free of charge for families.

Waiting for a SEND tribunal hearing can take significantly longer. The tribunal has a performance measure that 75% of appeals should be brought to hearing and the decision issued within 22 weeks.

Streamlining complaints processes and strengthening earlier dispute resolution will help to maintain and improve relationships between parents/carers and the local authority to enable them to continue working together. However, parents would still be able to go to tribunal if necessary. Coproduction remains a fundamental principle of the SEND system and the department wants to continue to work with parents and carers at every level of reform.

The Green Paper is now out for public consultation on its proposals until 22 July.

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