According to a Government report published today, outcomes from the First-tier Tribunal SEND pilot suggest that a Tribunal power of this kind has the potential to improve joint working.
The pilot began in 2016 and enabled the Tribunal to consider health and social care issues and make non-binding recommendations. Although the report cautioned that the number of pilot appeals was too small (nine hearings), early findings suggest that it could encourage and support better collaboration between education, health and social care partners. In response to the findings Government have agreed to extend the pilot national for a two-year trial.
The pilot was part of a wider review into the system of disagreement resolution carried out by CEDAR (Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research), at the University of Warwick, at the request of the Department for Education. Their findings were published alongside the Governments response to the report.
The evaluation found that mediation reduced the likelihood of disagreements escalating to an appeal and emphasized that early resolution was vital in reducing the negative effects on the families such as stress, anxiety, reduced educational achievement and attendance.
The report also highlighted the importance of good, local information, advice and support services in helping families challenge decision and seek redress. For example, many families did not understand or had used the disagreement resolution service which is designed to address issues that cannot be appealed at the First-tier tribunal. The report also found that of the 40,952 decision made across 109 local authorities only 7% where appealed.
Where families did raise complaints the top three main concerns reported by interviewees were;complaints being ignored, complaints taking too long, and responses that did not help put right the issue complained about.
As well as expanding the pilot Government response also proposed:
- Further support for workforce development at leaderm middle manager and caseworker level
- Support for voluntary standards and accreditted training for SEND mediators
- Improved and accessible guidance for parents onroutes for complaint and disagreement resolution
- Good practice guide for local areas and their partners based on CEDAR's findings
- Consideration into how Government can best support families when the transition period ends in April 2018
To see the full report from CEDAR and read the Government's response please use the links below.