Mediation and appeals for education, health and care plans (EHCP)

Sometimes you may disagree with the decisions made about the education health and care plan (EHCP) process. It is important that you know your rights and what the next steps are. 

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If you disagree with an EHCP decision 

The stages of the Education Health Care process you can appeal are when: 

  • a decision not to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assessment  
  • a decision not to issue an EHCP after a needs assessment 
  • the final EHCP has been produced 
  • an annual review has been completed 
  • a decision to cease to maintain a EHCP   

You also have the right to appeal if you disagree with the content within the Education health care plan (EHCP) if you: 

  • disagree with the needs as outlined in section B of the plan  
  • disagree with the provision in section F of the EHC plan 
  • disagree with the education setting in section I .ie. school or other institution named in the final plan 

You will receive a letter telling you about the decision reached, your rights and how to appeal against any decision you are not happy with from the Local Authority.     

Contacting the EHCP co-ordination team

In the first instance, you can contact someone from our EHCP co-ordination team and explain why you are not happy with their decision. They may be able to clarify the reasons why the decision was made. 

If you still disagree you may decide to try mediation and/or appeal to a tribunal.     

Attending mediation  

You will be offered the chance to attend mediation. This aims to help resolve disagreements that you may have regarding the EHCP process. It may be that your child has been through the assessment process and you are not happy with the outcome, or your child may have a plan, but you are not happy with the content or placement.   

Mediation is a confidential disagreement resolution process. A trained mediator works with families and the professionals involved at the meeting to clarify the issues of disagreement and work together to reach an acceptable solution. The mediator is independent and does not take sides, give advice or make judgements. 

The disagreement resolution arrangements are available for all children and young people with special educational needs within South Gloucestershire. 

This service is provided by Global Mediation. You can download their leaflet which explains what to do and the service they offer. 

To arrange mediation, contact Global Mediation and they will organise the next steps. The Local Authority must take part in this process if you, as a parent or young person want mediation service intervention.  

If you decide not to attend mediation but appeal instead, you will need to contact Global Mediation. They will issue a certificate to prove that you have considered mediation.  

If mediation is unsuccessful in resolving your dispute or complaint, or you decide you don’t want to go through mediation, you have the right to appeal to a special educational needs and disability tribunal (SENDIST).  

Appealing to first-tier tribunal (SENDIST) 

SENDIST is an independent first-tier tribunal court of appeal who handle appeals against the decisions of the council in relation to the EHCP process and disability discrimination.   

For most types of appeal, parents or young people should first have contacted an independent mediation advisor and discussed whether mediation might be a suitable way to resolve the disagreement. You will need a certificate from the advisor to register the appeal if mediation has been unsuccessful or you did not want to take part. 

You have one month from the date of the mediation certificate, or two months from the date on the decision letter from the council (whichever is later) to register your appeal. You can withdraw your appeal at any time. Information on how to submit an appeal will be provided at appropriate stages of the EHCP process. 

The government’s website has further information on the first-tier (SEND) tribunal, including useful videos. It explains how you can appeal and what to expect at an appeal. 

Single route of redress  

Until recently it has only been possible to appeal the educational aspects of EHCP.  However, in April 2018 a two-year national trial started giving new rights to request recommendations about the health and social care needs and provision, as specified in EHCPs. This is in addition to the educational aspects when making a SEND appeal and gives the opportunity to raise all concerns about an EHCP in one place. 

It is only possible for the tribunal to consider health and/or social care aspects of the EHCP when you are already making an appeal in relation to the education aspects. The education aspect must also remain live throughout the appeal. 

Further details about a single route of redress is available on the national government website.  

Concerns or complaints 

If you have any concerns about the service you receive during the EHCP process, or any failures to follow the process properly, they should be dealt with through the council’s complaints procedure. 

Note that the council’s complaints procedure cannot be used to change any decisions made about the EHCP.   

Further information  

Supportive Parents provide the information, advice and support service (SENDIASS) for children, young people and families in South Gloucestershire.   

IPSEA is the Independent Provider of Special Education Advice and explains on their website how to appeal the decision from the local authority.  They also have a helpline

Contact is a national charity that supports families who have children with disabilities They explain mediation and appeals on their website.   

SOS SEN offers a number of information sheets and a National Helpline. The helpline provides advice on the statutory assessment and EHC plan process, as well as how to appeal to the SEND Tribunal. 

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