Dispute resolution & avoidance in Education: A study of SEN & ASN in England & Scotland

  • Riddell, Sheila (Principal Investigator)
  • Harris, Neville (Researcher)
  • Smith, Emily (Researcher)
  • Stead, Joan (Researcher)
  • Weedon, Elisabet (Researcher)

Project Details

Key findings

Analysis of policy indicated that, from the mid-1990s, consumerism and rights discourses in England increased in importance compared with Scotland. Discourses of professionalism and bureaucracy remained stronger in Scotland, defended by local authorities as the best means of delivering collectivist and consensual policy.

Analysis of surveys and official statistics showed that local authorities preferred mediation to the tribunal, but little use was made of this type of dispute resolution in either England or Scotland. This was partly because local authorities failed to publicise mediation and sometimes refused to participate. Furthermore, parents preferred the tribunal on the grounds that it was more likely to deliver a clear and enforceable settlement. Parents were suspicious of mediation because of its private and confidential nature and the non-enforceability of its recommendations.

Children and young people were not involved in dispute resolution procedures. The right of young people in Scotland to use mediation or the tribunal independently of their parents had, in practice, not been acted upon.

Analysis of Scottish statistical data shows that, compared with children living in the least deprived areas, children in the most deprived areas were more than three times as likely to have additional support needs identified but less than half as likely to have a co-ordinated support plan (CSP), a qualification criterion for accessing the Scottish tribunal.

These findings have been written up in ten refereed journal articles (7 published and 5 in press), a forthcoming book and 3 forthcoming book chapters (see ESRC website).
Effective start/end date1/01/0830/09/10


  • ESRC: £393,453.00


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