CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: complaining when the local authority fails to comply with statutory deadlines for action following the conclusion of mediation (template letter 23)

Your local authority (LA) is required by law to comply with certain deadlines when you as a parent or young person have a right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal and you reach an agreement with the LA at mediation. 

This only applies however if a mediation agreement setting out what has been agreed is produced following the mediation. The mediation service should write this agreement for you to check and sign and it is vitally important that this happens. We strongly suggest you don’t leave the session without it.

The action the LA is required to take, and by when, depends on what has been agreed:

  • If the LA has agreed to take an action which the SEND Tribunal could have ordered, the LA is required to comply with the time limits that would have applied if the mediation agreement were an order of the SEND Tribunal. We have set out the deadlines in the body of our model letter. 

Some examples of these types of actions are: carrying out an EHC needs assessment, issuing an EHC plan or changing section F of an EHC plan. 

  • If the mediation agreement records that the LA has agreed to take an action which the SEND Tribunal could not have ordered, the LA must do that thing within two weeks of the date of the mediation agreement. 

Some examples of these types of actions are: arranging for an educational psychologist to visit your child’s school or providing temporary additional funding to the school.

These default timescales will always apply unless you and your LA agreed different timescales. If you did agree to alternative deadlines, you should make sure these are reflected in the mediation agreement, and your LA must meet these different deadlines instead. 

If the LA fails to comply with the mediation agreement you should make a formal complaint to the LA and you can use model letter 23 to do this. You will need to adapt this letter to fit your circumstances, especially if you agreed different deadlines.

When should I write?

As soon as possible following the LA’s failure to comply with the deadlines for action.

What if the school or college offers to write on my behalf?

It is fine for the school or college to also write to the LA too. However, this should be as well, not instead of, your own letter.

Who should I write to?

You can use this letter to write to the top person at the LA, usually the Director of Children’s Services. You can find this information and contact details for this person by clicking here. It may help to copy in the LA’s monitoring officer, your ward councillor, and the LA case worker or officer you have been dealing with as well.

Your LA’s Local Offer should clearly set out how a formal complaint can be made in its complaints procedure. This can be found on your LA’s website. You should follow the LA’s complaints procedure as well as writing to the Director of Children’s Services. See our making a complaint about an LA page for more information.

Remember to keep a copy of any letter or email you send.

If you don’t get a reply after five working days, or if you need further advice, you can book an advice line appointment with IPSEA.

Can I still appeal?

If some agreement is reached but there are some matters which have not been resolved through mediation you retain your right of appeal. For example, if the LA agrees to provide some temporary funding to the school but does not agree to issue an EHC plan, you can still appeal that decision.

In all appeal situations, you must make sure your appeal is submitted within two months of the original decision letter or one month of the mediation certificate, whichever is the later. If your appeal relates only to section I (placement) you do not need a certificate and you won’t receive one so your appeal will need to be submitted within two months of the original decision letter.