Disagreement resolution can help parents and young people resolve disagreements with their local authority or their nursery, school or college. It covers all children and young people with any kind of special educational need or disability – you don’t need an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan to access disagreement resolution services. Taking part is voluntary for all parties involved.

There are three areas of disagreement that a family seek disagreement resolution services for:

  1. If you and your family disagree with how a nursery, school, college or local authority carries out its education, health and social care duties. This applies if your child has any kind of SEND. Your child doesn’t need to have an EHC plan.
  2. If you and your family disagree with your nursery, school or college about the special educational provision they are making for your child. This applies if your child has any kind of SEND. Your child doesn’t need an EHC plan.
  3. If you and your family disagree with your local authority or NHS Integrated Care Board about health or social care provision for your child. You can only seek disagreement resolution services about health or social care provision during an EHC needs assessment or while an EHC plan is being prepared or reviewed, or when your child is being reassessed.

Parents and young people can seek disagreement resolution at any time. Unlike mediation, it is also available at any stage in the EHC process. Disagreement resolution meetings are confidential and without prejudice to the Tribunal process. Partial agreement achieved by using disagreement resolution services can help focus on the remaining areas of disagreement in any subsequent appeals to the Tribunal. Taking part in disagreement resolution is voluntary for all parties. The local authority has a duty to ensure that disagreement resolution services are available to children and young people and their families.

Disagreement resolution meetings involve the parents and/or young person with SEND, the local authority, Integrated Care Board (ICB) or a school/setting, and a disagreement resolution service. In Sheffield, the service provider that is commissioned by the local authority is called Collis Mediation Ltd.

The parent or young person with SEND contacts the disagreement resolution service, Collis Mediation. The service then contacts Sheffield local authority informing them of the request.

If the local authority agrees to the disagreement resolution, a meeting is held where concerns and options are discussed around a table. The meeting is confidential and without prejudice. This means that the SEND Tribunal would not consider anything discussed at a disagreement resolution meeting. It provides an opportunity to resolve the matter outside of court.

You can bring someone to support you, such as a teacher, educational psychologist, SENCO or a family member or friend. You can bring reports and important information from people who have opinions about the support the child or young person may need.