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Resolving disagreements (special educational needs and disabilities)

All councils must make sure that parents and young people have access to independent disagreement resolution services.

Decisions about provision for children and young people with SEN should be made as soon as possible. However, where agreement cannot be reached, early resolution of disagreements benefits parents and young people and can avoid unnecessary stress.

Using a disagreement resolution service

Using a disagreement resolution service is voluntary and has to be with the agreement of all parties.

The service must be independent of the council. Parents and young people can also access informal support in resolving disagreements through Durham Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Information Advice and Support Service and between 2014 and 2016, with the help of independent supporters.

Disagreement resolution arrangements cover all children and young people with SEN, not just those who are being assessed for or have an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan, and a range of disagreements. They are available to parents and young people to resolve disagreements about any aspect of SEN provision, and health and social care disagreements during the processes related to EHC needs assessments and EHC plans.

They can provide a quick and supportive way of resolving disagreements. Used early in the EHC assessment process and the development of the EHC plan, they can prevent the need for mediation, once decisions have been taken in that process, and appeals taken to the SEND Tribunal.

The disagreement resolution service is to help resolve four types of disagreement or to prevent them from escalating further:

  • The first is between parents or young people and local authorities, the governing bodies of maintained schools and maintained nursery schools, early years providers, further education institutions or the proprietors of academies (including free schools), about how these authorities, bodies or proprietors are carrying out their education, health and care duties for children and young people with SEN, whether they have EHC plans or not. These include duties on the council to keep their education and care provision under review, the duties to assess needs and draw up EHC plans and the duty on governing bodies and proprietors to use their best endeavours to meet children and young people's SEN.
  • The second is disagreements between parents or young people and early years providers, schools or post-16 institutions about the special educational provision made for a child or young person, whether they have EHC plans or not.
  • The third is disagreements between parents or young people and Clinical Commissioning Groups or councils about health or social care provision during EHC needs assessments, while EHC plans are being drawn up, reviewed or when children or young people are being reassessed. Disagreement resolution services can also be used to resolve disagreements over special educational provision throughout assessments, the drawing up of EHC plans, while waiting for Tribunal appeals and at review or during reassessments.
  • The fourth is disagreements between councils and health commissioning bodies during EHC needs assessments or reassessments, the drawing up of EHC plans or reviews of those plans for children and young people with SEN. In relation to EHC plans, this includes the description of the child or young person's education, health and care needs and any education, health and care provision set out in the plan. These disagreements do not involve parents and young people.

A decision by parents and young people not to use disagreement resolution services has no effect on their right to appeal to the Tribunal and no inference will be drawn by the Tribunal if the parties to a disagreement have not used the disagreement resolution services. Disagreement resolution meetings are confidential and without prejudice to the Tribunal process and the Tribunal will disregard any offers or comments made during them. Partial agreement achieved by use of disagreement resolution services can help to focus on the remaining areas of disagreement in any subsequent appeal to the Tribunal.

In County Durham, the disagreement resolution service is provided by:

Barnardo's Gateshead Disability and Inclusion Support Service (DAISS)
20 Bewick Road
Tyne and Wear

Telephone: 0191 478 4667

Contact us
SEND and Inclusion Service
03000 267 800
Our address is:
  • Broom Cottages Primary & Nursery School
  • Ferryhill
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DL17 8AN
01740 657 792