unhappy child involved in an educational dispute

Education Disputes Mediation for Parents and Children

Recently I wrote a Legal Masters (LLM) dissertation about mediation between parents, children and young persons on the one hand, and local education authorities (LEAs) in Scotland on the other. It is entitled ‘How is Mediation Conducted in the Shadow of the Law? Additional Support Needs Mediation in Scotland’ and you can read it in full on this PDF.

The Education (additional support for learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended), is the only Act of the Scottish Parliament (asp) that provides mediation as a formal means of alternative dispute resolution (alternative to going to court) for legal disputes: in this case for disputes between parents, children, young persons and LEAs over the nature of the educational support provided by the latter to children who have additional support needs to assist with their learning.

I am interested in how mediators actually mediate against the background of the law – so my dissertation involved primary qualitative research – I interviewed five practising ASL mediators working in Scotland, about how they undertook mediation. The interviews lasted up to four hours each and were digitally recorded and then transcribed verbatim to enable subsequent coding and analysis. The mediators concerned are committed individuals who seek to improve relationships between parents/children/young persons and LEAs and their work absolutely assists in improving educational provision in Scotland – I have nothing but praise for them.

I also wanted to compare how these ASL mediators undertook actual mediation, with mediators involved in special educational needs mediation in other parts of the world, particularly the USA and England – so the study is also an international comparative one. Various models of mediation are discussed – including Transformative Mediation, Narrative Mediation, Facilitative Mediation, Strategic Mediation and Evaluative Mediation.

The results make fascinating reading. I hope you agree and I am always interested in feedback. You can email me, on paul@mncrs.co.uk. I wish you all constructive mediating!

Posted by Paul Kirkwood, director of www.MNCRS.co.uk – Mediation, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Services.