Q: The proposed flexibility which is intended to give mediation between LAs and parents before giving the right of appeal is appalling, this will help the LA delay further (it is 20 weeks for a SEND Tribunal case to be heard). The mediation is a statutory service - from what I understand - which will be tied to the LA. It doesn't sound very independent.
IPSEA's answer: IPSEA are very, very concerned about the proposed introduction of compulsory mediation. It is another hurdle for parents to clear before getting to challenge the LA at the SEND Tribunal. By the time parents have got to the stage where they have a right of appeal, a lot of time has already passed. The draft provisions make it very clear that LAs will have to provide this service but that it does have to be independent (i.e. no one from a LA - or even a neighbouring one). The issue is, if the LA are commissioning this service from a mediator there will always be a target number of successful mediations to reach in order to maintain the contract. For good and truly independent mediators this is not a problem but parents' experience shows that this has not always been the case.