FAQs from Parents & Carers

My child goes to school in a different local authority to the one we live in, which IAS Service should I contact?
I think my child might have some special educational needs although the school haven’t said anything, will my local IAS Service help me?
What do you mean by impartial information, advice and support?

What if I do not agree with decisions about SEN provision?

 

My child goes to school in a different local authority to the one we live in, which IAS Service should I contact?

In the first instance you should contact the IAS Service in the local authority in which you live.

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I think my child might have some special educational needs although the school haven’t said anything, will my local IAS Service help me?

Yes, your local IAS Service will be happy to discuss your situation further.

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What do we mean by impartial information, advice and support?

 

This information is about the impartial information, advice and support required by the SEND Code of Practice.

 

What does the SEND Code of Practice say?

 

The Children and Families Act 2014 says local authorities must provide information advice and support about special educational needs (SEN), disability, health and social care for children, young people and parents.

 

The SEND Code of Practice says:

 

Local authorities must arrange for children with SEN or disabilities for whom they are responsible, and their parents, and young people with SEN or disabilities for whom they are responsible, to be provided with information and advice about matters relating to their SEN or disabilities, including matters relating to health and social care. This must include information, advice and support on the take-up and management of Personal Budgets. In addition, in carrying out their duties under Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014, local authorities must have regard to the importance of providing children and their parents and young people with the information and support necessary to participate in decisions. (2.1)

 

This means that every local authority should provide a service that is free, easy to access and confidential and that can help children, parents and young people take part in decisions that affect their lives.

 

The Local Offer must include information about the sources of information, advice and support for parents, children and young people and how this is resourced.

 

In Camden this service is provided by SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service.

 
What do we mean when we say we are impartial?

 

The SEND Code of Practice says:

 

The information, advice and support should be impartial and provided at arm’s length from the local authority and Clinical Commissioning Groups. (2.8)

 

This means that the information, advice and support that we offer are firmly based in the law and the SEND Code of Practice.

 

We provide unbiased information and advice about the local authority’s policies and procedures and about the policy and practice in local schools and other settings.

 

We do not give priority to any particular impairment, disability or special educational need, nor do we campaign for any particular approach to education.

 

By being impartial we aim to help parents, children and young people have clear, accurate and relevant information that will help them take part in decisions about their lives.

 

You can read our Impartiality Policy here.

 
How do we know that we are impartial?

 

It is very easy to be biased. Everyone has opinions about most things! Sometimes people can be biased without even realising it.

 

That is why we really value your opinion about the information, advice and support we offer. We want you to tell us if you think we are not impartial. To help us check that we are impartial we routinely ask those who use our service to say whether they think we have been biased one way or another.

 

At SENDIASS we follow a national set of Quality Standards for services providing impartial information, advice and support developed by the Network of Information, Advice and Support Services. This helps us to monitor the effectiveness of the service we provide and ensure that it is ‘at arm’s length’ from the local authority. By this we mean that we act, and are seen to act, separately and impartially, with no undue influence or control from either the local authority or the Clinical Commissioning Group in our area.

 

We also publish an Annual Report that includes information on what people tell us about our service.

 
What information, advice and support do we offer?

 

We offer accurate, up to date and impartial resources and information about the law on special educational needs and disability. This covers;

  • education, health and social care
  • national and local policy
  • the Local Offer
  • your rights and choices
  • your opportunities to participate
  • where you can find help and advice
  • how you can access this support.

 We provide information in many ways, including publications, training events and information days.

 

Sometimes information alone is not enough. You may want help to gather information, make sense of it and apply it to your own situation. We call this advice and we offer this service by email, on the telephone, face to face and through work with groups or in training.

 

We can also offer more intensive support if you need it. This can include helping with letters, attending meetings with you or supporting you in discussions with the local authority, school or other setting.

 

When we are not able to help we will do our best to tell you about, or put you in touch with, other groups or organisations that can help. We call this signposting.

 

Is the service confidential?

 

YES!

 

We will not share your information with anyone unless you tell us we can. The only exception to this would be because we have a specific concern about a child’s safety.

 

You can find our Confidentiality Policy here.

 

We will often work with parents and children or young people together. Sometimes we will work with them separately. When we do this the same confidentiality rules apply.

 
Where can I find out more?

 

You can read about impartial information, advice and support in the SEND Code of Practice Chapter 2.

 

The Local Offer includes details of Camden arrangements for providing information, advice and support.

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What if I do not agree with decisions about SEN provision?

 

This information is about what you can do if your child has special educational needs (SEN) or a disability and you are unhappy about the help they are getting.

 

SENDIASS can;

  • listen to your concerns

  • help you sort out the issues

  • identify other people who can support you

  • help you decide what to do next

  • explain the law and your rights.

     

    The SEND Code of Practice says:

     

Decisions about provision for children and young people with SEN or disabilities should be made jointly by providers, parents, and children and young people themselves, taking a person-centred approach, with the views of children, young people and parents taken into account when those decisions are made. (11.1)

 

First steps

 

If you are not happy about the help that your child has at school the first step is to talk to their teacher, or to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO or SENDCO) or the headteacher.

 

If you think the school is doing all it can but your child needs even more help, you can ask the local authority for an EHC needs assessment.

 

If your child has an Education, Health and Care plan you can also contact Camden SEN Team.

 

SENDIASS can help you prepare for and attend a meeting. If you still have concerns we can help you decide what to do next.

 

What next?

 

If you still have a problem you might be able to;

  • seek some help to put your concerns forward

  • make a complaint

  • ask for independent disagreement resolution or mediation

  • appeal against a decision.

     

    SENDIASS can tell you more about each of these and help you decide what to do.

 

Seeking help

 

It might be helpful to ask a friend or relative to attend a meeting with you. It is a good idea to keep notes or have records of what the school has done and has told you.

 

SENDIASS can give you impartial information and advice about possible ways forward.

 

SENDIASS might also be able to offer you independent support, or tell you about local or national groups that provide information and advice.

 
Making a complaint

 

If you think that the school, college or Camden Local Authority could do more, you can complain using their complaints procedure. They will send you a form if you ask for it. You will usually need to;

  • have tried to resolve your complaint by speaking to the right people

  • put your complaint in writing, using the word ‘complaint’

  • be clear about all the issues you want resolved

  • state what you want to happen

  • give a reasonable time by which you would like a response.

 

If you are not happy with the outcome of making a complaint or feel that it has not been dealt with properly SENDIASS can give you information on what to do next.

 

You can find out more about complaints procedures in the SEND Code of Practice sections 11.2 and 11.67 to 11.111. If you want help to understand the different procedures, or advice on which to use, please contact SENDIASS.

 
Disagreement resolution

 

Many disagreements can be sorted out by talking with the school, college, local authority, or, for health services, the Clinical Commissioning Group.

 

The SEND Code of Practice says:

 

Decisions about provision for children and young people with SEN should be made as soon as possible. In most cases this will be achieved by early years providers, schools, colleges, local authorities and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) working closely together and agreeing what should be provided with parents and young people. (11.3)

 

Sometimes it can be difficult to reach agreement. SENDIASS can help you by providing impartial information, advice and support.

 

The SEND Code of Practice says:

 

Local authorities must make disagreement resolution services available to parents and young people. Use of the disagreement resolution services is voluntary and has to be with the agreement of all parties. The service, while commissioned by it, must be independent of the local authority – no-one who is directly employed by a local authority can provide disagreement resolution services. (11.6)

 

KIDS is an independent service that will provide a trained mediator to facilitate a discussion. The purpose is to look for a way forward that all the parties accept. The service is free and confidential - and you can choose whether to use it.

 

The disagreement resolution service is there to help resolve three kinds of disagreement between parents or young people and the organisations that are responsible for making provision for children and young people with special educational needs. These are about;

  • how early years providers, schools and further education institutions carry out their duties for children and young people with SEN. For local authorities this includes keeping education and care provision under review, assessing needs and drawing up Education, Health and Care plans. For governing bodies and proprietors of schools it includes using their “best endeavours” to meet children and young people’s SEN
  • the special educational provision made for a child or young person by early years providers, schools or further education institutions. This includes children and young people receiving SEN support and those with EHC plans

  • health or social care provision when this part of an EHC needs assessment, while EHC plans are being drawn up, reviewed or when children or young people are being reassessed.

 

Disagreement resolution services can also be used;

  • during EHC needs assessments

  • while EHC plans are drawn up

  • while waiting for Tribunal appeals

  • at review

  • during reassessments.

 

SENDIASS or KIDS can help you decide if independent disagreement resolution is the right way forward.

 

You can find out more about disagreement resolution services in the SEND Code of Practice sections 11.6 to 11.10.

 
Mediation

 

Mediation is a type of disagreement resolution for disagreements that can be appealed to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. The service is free and confidential.

 

The SEND Code of Practice says:

 

If parents and young people want it to, mediation can take place following decisions by a local authority not to carry out an EHC needs assessment, not to draw up an EHC plan, after they receive a final EHC plan or amended plan, following a decision not to amend an EHC plan or a decision to cease to maintain an EHC plan. (11.13)

 

If you wish to register an appeal with the First Tier Tribunal (SEN and disability) you first have to consider whether to enter mediation and obtain a certificate saying you have considered it. This is called mediation advice.  If you decide not to go into mediation and tell the mediation adviser, they will send you a certificate within 3 working days and you can then register your appeal. You do not have to go into mediation if you do not want to – you only have to consider whether to or not.

 

Your local authority must tell you about mediation and who to contact for the initial advice when they send you their decision. You must contact the mediation adviser within two months of getting the decision. Your time limit for appealing to the Tribunal is two months from the date of that decision, or one month from the date of the mediation certificate, whichever is the later.

 

There is one exception to this rule. You can register an appeal without considering mediation first if the appeal is only about the name of the school, or college, named on the plan, the type of school or college specified in the plan or the fact that no school or other institution is named.

 

If you choose mediation the local authority (or Clinical Commissioning Group) must take part. The meeting will be arranged within 30 days.

 

Mediators must be trained and accredited and are independent of the local authority and Clinical Commissioning Group.

 

If you go over the two month deadline for considering mediation, or want to appeal without a certificate, the law says you can still approach the Tribunal to see if you can register your appeal.

 

SENDIASS or KIDS can help you decide if mediation is the right way forward.

 

You can find out more about mediation in the SEND Code of Practice sections 11.13 to 11.38.

 
Do I have to choose between making a complaint, using disagreement resolution, appealing to the Tribunal and mediation?

 

Usually you can follow more than one route. For example you can still make a complaint if you have already tried disagreement resolution. SENDIASS can explain your rights and the different procedures.

 

Appeals

 

The SEND Code of Practice says that parents and young people can appeal to the Tribunal about;

 

  • a decision by a local authority not to carry out an EHC needs assessment or re-assessment
  • a decision by a local authority that it is not necessary to issue an EHC plan following an assessment
  • the description of a child or young person’s SEN specified in an EHC plan, the special educational provision specified, the school or other institution or type of school or other institution (such as a mainstream school/college) specified in the plan or that no school or other institution is specified
  • an amendment to these elements of the EHC plan
  • a decision by a local authority not to amend an EHC plan following a review or re-assessment
  • a decision by a local authority to cease to maintain an EHC plan.(11.45)

 

You can find out more about appeals to the Tribunal in the SEND Code of Practice sections 11.39 to 11.55.

 

SENDIASS can explain the appeal process to you and provide impartial advice and support.

 

You can also appeal against a school exclusion. You can find out more about school exclusion appeals from IPSEA, ACE and Coram Children’s Legal Centre.

 

Where can I get more information, advice or support?

 

You can find out more about making a complaint about provision at your child’s school on its website or by asking about its complaints procedure.

 

The Local Offer, published by the local authority, includes information about the arrangements for resolving disagreements and for mediation, and details about making complaints. It also tells you about your right to appeal to the Tribunal.

You can find Camden’s Local Offer here.

 

Chapter 11 of the SEND Code of Practice includes a lot more information about complaints procedures, disagreement resolution, mediation advice and mediation.

 

SENDIASS can give you;

  • impartial information about complaints procedures, disagreement resolution and mediation

  • impartial advice about what to do if you are unhappy with the support the school or college is providing

  • details of other organisations, support groups and information services that might help

  • impartial information and advice about your rights to appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (SEN and Disability)

  • impartial advice and support through the process of making a complaint, disagreement resolution, mediation or appeal.

 

National organisations that can also provide information and advice on SEND include:

Coram Children’s Legal Centre at www.childrenslegalcentre.com

Contact a Family at www.cafamily.org.uk

IPSEA at www.ipsea.org.uk

 

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