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As we can see in our other pages, appeals and mediation are generally used where a decision has been made by the LA (represented by SENAT in West Sussex) during the EHC needs assessment or regarding an EHC plan, that is disagreed with by the parent or young person.
We would advise that you have tried to have a discussion first with the Planning Coordinator about the areas you disagree on before considering appeal or mediation. However, you may feel that you have got to the point where further informal discussion is not going to change the outcome. How do you decide whether to start with mediation or go straight to appeal?
As well as having a chat with an adviser at Global Mediation, it may also be helpful to consider the following:
For more general information please see our mediation page.
If you prefer a more informal discussion
Perhaps there is little written evidence or the paperwork doesn’t fully reflect your child’s needs or reasons for your request(s). Having a mediator facilitate a discussion in a safe way can often be helpful to help both parties to share their views and reach an understanding.
You want to present more evidence
Perhaps you feel that SENAT have not considered the importance of a piece of evidence and that by presenting this and discussing it at mediation, a fuller understanding can be sought.
You believe the evidence speaks for itself and you don’t want to wait for an appeal due to the waiting time
Sometimes, you and or the school may consider the evidence for your request(s) to be very strong but perhaps it needs to be discussed rather than just paperwork looked at. There is a substantial difference in timeframes. Mediation should be helpd within 30 days or the LA being notified whereas appeals often take in excess of 12 weeks before it is heard.
You want to understand the issues before going to appeal
Occasionally (although it should not reach this point before it happens), you may just want to have more of an understanding of what the issues are so that you can be clear when going to appeal. Obviously in these circumstances, you may decide that an appeal is not necessary after all but if you still want to proceed, you will be able to do so with a clearer idea about why you are appealing.
Straight to Appeal
For more general information please see our appeals page.
You feel that discussion has been exhausted and need a judge to step in to make a decision
If all discussion has been had, or your planning coordinator (and/or their manager) have said their decision will not change then mediation may not be suitable.
Global Mediation have not been successful in organising Mediation
Occasionally, the LA do not respond to the request for mediation, or a meeting is not able to be arranged in an appropriate time.
If you are only appealing section I (Placement)
Although you are still able to go to mediation for placement only appeals, there is no legal requirement to do so and it will often need the SEND Tribunal to make the decision.
We would advise that where possible you also appeal sections B and/or F as part of your appeal so that the judge can look at the EHCP as a whole (and advise changes to be made to these sections where appropriate). If it is a section I only appeal they will only look at the evidence that is in the EHCP already, which may make it difficult for them to rule in your favour, if it doesn’t fully support your request.
Apart from the fact that you cannot do mediation once you have submitted your appeal, there is no right or wrong decision and it will often purely come down to your individual situation and circumstances.
SENDIAS ‘Communicating with Professionals’ leaflet