Disputes between parents/pupils/students and the agencies responsible for the provision of education services, including schools, local (education) authorities and higher education institutions have increased significantly in recent decades. While the courts and the local government ombudsmen have a general jurisdiction that includes education, the overwhelming majority of education disputes that are broadly ‘legal’ are resolved by specialist bodies. Research over the years has examined many of the principal mechanisms, including the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal and school exclusion Independent Appeal Panels, to assess their fairness and effectiveness; but now there is a drive towards alternative approaches consistent with the general trend in the field of administrative justice post-Leggatt towards alternative or ‘proportionate’ dispute resolution, including the use of mediation. This paper highlight trends in education dispute resolution and considers the scope for alternative dispute resolution in this field and its implications. An important aspect of this is consideration of the nature of education disputes. The paper explains how an Anglo-Scottish ESRC-funded study being conducted by the presenters, together with colleagues in Edinburgh, will be examining this issue in the specific context of disputes concerning decisions on special educational needs and additional support needs and the possible models for resolving them.