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Mediation and advocacy to resolve disputes in the education sector

EDUCATION MEDIATION

What is education mediation?


Education mediation is the use of mediation to help people resolve disputes and conflict in the education sector.

 

What is a mediator?


A mediator is an independent, neutral person trained to use an established structure and process to help people understand their grievances, explore options and voluntarily and confidentially to come to an agreement to resolve conflict and disputes themselves.

 

What is mediation?


The Council of the European Union defines mediation as a structured process… whereby two or more parties to a dispute attempt by themselves, on a voluntary basis, to reach an agreement on the settlement of their dispute with the assistance of a mediator.

Mediation is the most rapidly growing and successful Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) method. ADR refers to the variety of methods used as an alternative to litigation to resolve disputes and conflict.

Disputes may be resolved through investigation, hearing, arbitration, review, or court case whereas mediation tries to arrive at a resolution through an agreement between the people who are in dispute.



Can you describe exactly what would happen if I chose mediation?


A venue, often neutral, is agreed by the parties involved. A time and date are also agreed.

During the first session, the mediator usually meets both people together. The mediator explains the structure and process of mediation, and outlines expectations about how it will work, often called ‘ground rules’ about interaction.

During the initial session a decision is also made about whether mediation is appropriate for the people in dispute. Both parties must undertake it voluntarily and be in a position to take action based on the agreement that may be reached.

The mediator also talks privately with each person individually. This can happen in advance of the first session or during it. Nothing either party says to the mediator is disclosed to the other person without their agreement.

Each person has an opportunity during the first or second session to describe the situation that has arisen. The mediator helps each person to gain an understanding of the issues. Key issues are identified and agreed.

In the next session, people begin to suggest and explore options that would work for them to bring about a resolution of each issue.

The mediator makes note of all options, asks key questions, encourages lateral thinking, helps the people to explore each option further, and also carries out “reality testing”, i.e., investigating how might each suggestion work in practice and over time?

When a resolution comes from this exploratory, investigative and analytical work, it may be agreed verbally or in writing by the people involved. Such an agreement may also be formally agreed (e.g., using workplace procedures, or in a court, etc.), as appropriate to the circumstances.



What does a mediator do?


During mediation the mediator:

  • organises the structure for the mediation sessions and explains how the process of mediation works

  • provides a confidential, discreet, private, neutral, safe place to air the issues causing conflict so that each person has a chance to explain the dispute from their perspective

  • meets people separately and together

  • listens carefully and equally to each person involved in a dispute

  • helps people to understand the dispute more completely so that they may gain some understanding of the other person’s position and new insights into their situation that may change their perspectives

  • helps people to take control of a difficult situation by exploring all options that would make a difference in resolving the dispute

  • helps to identify common ground

  • “reality tests” proposals

  • encourages and supports people in reaching a resolution to resolve the situation more quickly and effectively

  • writes up an agreement, if appropriate

  • even if resolution is not reached, keeps open the possibility of future resolution and of maintaining or restoring good relationships.




Who is education mediation for?


Education mediation is for anyone involved in the education sector who is in a dispute or conflict and who wishes to resolve it privately, confidentially, speedily. e.g.,

teachers, lecturers, researchers, students, parents, managers, administrators, assistants, board members, evaluators, examiners, ancillary and support staff

in

schools, colleges, universities, pre-schools, education institutes, education offices



Why choose education mediation?



  • Mediation is private and confidential with established professional guidelines

  • Mediation is a respectful and non-judgemental process, recognising the perspectives of each individual and creating space that enables each person to be heard

  • Using mediation, dispute resolution can occur quickly

  • Speedy dispute resolution reduces psychological, emotional, financial and physical strain and hardship

  • Mediation is far less costly than non-mediated ways of dealing with disputes

  • Mediation puts disputing individuals in communication with each other and so has more scope for restoring working relationships

  • Even when there is no settlement, mediation “leaves the door open” for a time when mediation may occur

  • Mediation saves time, effort, cost, and relationships




How long does mediation take?


While every situation differs in complexity and “resolvability”, in general, if mediation is going to work, it works quite quickly. After the initial meeting, mediation may be completed in one half-day session. Sometimes, a number of sessions may be necessary, and these may be spread out over a few weeks. When issues are more complex, such a time span gives people a chance to put options they have devised into practice to see how they work in reality and it gives people the opportunity to review and revise actions, if necessary.



How much does education mediation cost?


educationmediation.ie provides affordable, professional mediation by an education specialist to people in the education sector. The initial consultation is free. The cost of subsequent sessions is usually divided between the parties, unless otherwise decided by them. All fees are notified and agreed in advance. Fees may be modified, when needed and agreed.