I was very impressed with the professionalism of the service and literature and extremely grateful for the advice provided. In our case, the [Enquire] Helpline helped to secure a positive outcome from the local authority for our child, together with a commitment to the revision of the authority’s policy.
Positive impact of Mediation
Most disagreements about a child’s additional support needs or additional support for learning can be resolved at either school or local authority level. However, if this is not possible, parents, schools or local authorities can request independent mediation. Mediation brings parties together to work with each other to try to resolve a disagreement. It gives participants the opportunity to express their concerns and offer solutions, with the help of an impartial mediator. The focus of the mediation is on finding a solution that is in the best interests of the child or young person. Mediation is voluntary so all parties must agree to take part.
By law, education authorities must offer and provide independent mediation services. Resolve ASL Mediation is one of the services providing independent mediation to 12 local authority areas. Resolve’s Manager Sandra Mitchell explains why mediation can help:
“Mediation provides an opportunity to be able to sit down, face to face round a table in an informal way but using a process to try and address the issues and find a way forward. It can make a real difference to situations where disputes have become entrenched.”
Sandra shared comments from families and staff who have been involved in mediation highlighting the positive impact it can have in improving relationships and resolving disagreements:
Comments from staff about why mediation worked:
- Both parties were able to start meeting with clear aims and there was a feeling of “neutrality”
- Issues raised were dealt with fairly, not passed over until agreements reached on both sides
- Each side was given fair chance to put their case
- The ability of speak freely in the knowledge that meaning could not be misconstrued
- The process provided time to focus on priority areas for both parties.
Comments from parents about why mediation worked:
- Mediator kept both parties on track to reach agreement
- It opened up channels of communication and made inroads
- Independent from the education system allowed for a less intimidating discussion
- What worked well was having the meeting in an environment outside the school, being able to say how I felt
- Clear boundaries established from outset meaning everyone had a voice and a right to be listened to.