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Where children and young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN) experience problems with their education and training, everyone involved hopes to resolve these through discussion between the relevant parties, informal independent dispute resolution or independent mediation processes.

Early education providers, schools and colleges have their own complaints procedures and local authorities have the responsibility for considering certain decisions about schools, education and child protection issues.

You can tell us what you think about Children’s Social Care on our complaints, comments and compliments page, the animation below shows how and what will happen.

Resolving disagreements through discussion

To start with, a young person, parent or carer could discuss their concerns with the service to resolve any areas of disagreement.


Mediation is free and confidential. It is a voluntary process for parents and young people which can be used if an agreement cannot be reached about Education, Health and Care plans. Visit What if I do not agree with decisions surrounding SEND process? for more information. The animation below explains more.

You can find out what the experience is like in the video below.

Disagreement resolution services

Disagreement resolution services are free, independent of the local authority and confidential. Parents, carers or young people can choose to use a disagreement resolution service. This is something that is voluntary and everyone involved must agree to it.

Types of disagreement addressed in disagreement resolution

The disagreement resolution service helps children and young people with SEN resolve the following types of disagreement or prevents them from escalating:

  • How the early years setting, school, college or local authority is carrying out its education, health and care duties for children and young people with special educational needs.

This can include any of the SEN duties – not just those concerning Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessments or EHC plans.

  • The provision that the early years setting, school, or college is making. This applies to children and young people with any kind of Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND), not just those going through an EHC needs assessment or with an EHC plan.
  • The health or social care provision during an EHC needs assessment, while EHC plans are being drawn up or reviewed, while awaiting an appeal or when children or young people are being reassessed.

In these cases, the disagreement will be with the local authority or Clinical Commissioning Group, rather than the early years setting, school, or college.

Who to contact about disagreement resolution

To discuss or request independent disagreement resolution please contact Global Mediation on 0800 064 4488 or email

You can find out more about the service at Global Mediation

Sometimes, where disagreements and problems persist, parents of children and young people with SEN might need to consider challenging decisions through a formal procedure by complaining to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SEND Tribunal).

Last reviewed: December 6, 2023 by Helly

Next review due: June 6, 2024

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