We meet the people involved separately, and in private. This allows the mediator to begin to understand the situation from your point of view, and to explore your ideas for dealing with the problems. We usually meet parents at their home if this is agreeable, and we will often meet the child or young person to hear their views too. We usually meet teachers in school, and education officers at their office. If you have any questions or concerns about mediation, these can be discussed with the mediator at this stage.
With everyone’s agreement, we all meet together. It will have been agreed at the preparation stage who needs to attend this meeting. Sometimes parents bring a supporter or advocate with them. Sometimes children and young people attend the meeting if they want to, and if it’s in their best interests. We start the meeting by asking everyone in turn what they think the problems are, and what they would like to achieve in mediation.
Explore the issues
We then discuss things in detail. The mediator chairs the meeting and makes sure that everyone gets the chance to talk – but also to hear what the other people are saying. It’s important that disagreements are properly explored before moving towards solutions.
During the conversations, ideas or suggestions for a way forward will emerge. The mediator will ask everyone to consider if these are realistic and/or manageable. In mediation nobody is forced to agree to something they don’t want. The mediator does not advise or tell you what to do. Mediation works because people are making their own informed choices.
Recording of agreements
The mediator writes down what has been agreed (and sometimes what has not been agreed). Everybody gets a copy so that we are all clear about what will happen next. Even when agreement sometimes isn’t reached on every single issue, people still tell us that they find mediation useful. Using mediation does not affect your legal right to use other ways to resolve the difficulties.