North Northants and West Northants SEND Information, Advice and Support Service is a statutory service which operates at 'arm's length' from both Unitary Authority's and provides free, confidential, impartial advice, and support to children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), and their parents/carers.
We offer advice to professionals who support children and young people with SEND and their families.
SEND IASS empowers parents and carers to play an active and informed role in their child's education, whilst promoting good working relationships between children, young people, parents, education settings and the Local Authority (LA).
The teams provide a range of flexible services which include training, referrals to statutory and voluntary agencies, access to local and national support groups, telephone support and face to face meetings, when required.
Introduction to IASS
Our service will:
- Offer free impartial, accurate advice.
- Advise, enable, and empower parents/carers of children who have or may have special educational needs.
- Advise, enable, and empower children and young people who have or may have special educational needs.
- Enable and empower parents, carers, young people and children to voice their views in local decision making.
- Support the Local Authority and parent/carers and schools to work together to meet the needs of children and young people.
What is an IASS Service?
What can the service offer you?
- A free impartial service with independently trained staff.
- Someone impartial to talk to in confidence
- Information and support on a one-to-one basis
- Information about SEND Services in your local area
- The Local Offer
- Personal Budgets
- A straightforward explanation of SEND services and procedures
- Information on special educational needs and disability, health and social care
- Facilitate form filling
- Someone to assist you put forward your views
- Someone to attend meetings with you, when required
The service runs a free adviceline providing advice relating to SEND related matters.
- Aim to respond to your enquiry within three working days
- Empower you to express your views and resolve issues
- Record information obtained and store on a secure and confidential database accessed solely by IASS staff.
- Provide telephone advice and information
- Meet with you, if required
- Attend meetings with you, if required
- Maintain confidentiality, in accordance with local safeguarding procedures
We will not:
- Contact other people on your behalf without your prior consent
- Pass your information to organisations without your agreement
- Make decisions for you or on your behalf
- Attend meetings or provide reports in your absence
Minimum standards for IASS
The standards were drawn up by a group of IASS managers, parents, LA reps and the chair of the Information Advice and Support Programme (IASP) board, in consultation with the Department for Education (DfE). They are based on the law and the SEND Code.
Arm's length agreement between North Northants Council and West Northants Council and their respective Information, Advice and Support Services
This document describes the relationship between the local authorities (LA) and their Information, Advice and Support Service and the measures taken to protect the impartiality of the service.
Information Advice and Support Service staff are employed by North Northants and West Northants Councils.
Each team has its own Service Manager who has no other LA duties.
North Northants SEND IASS team sits within Children, Young People and Family Support Services. The Service Manager supports and directs the team to deliver their operational duties, and works in co-production with Education, Health and Social services at a practical and strategic level, providing impartial insight to improve SEND services across the local area.
West Northants SEND IASS team sits within the Commissioning & Partnerships – Public Health and Children's Services. The Service Manager is responsible for the daily operational duties of the service, in addition to attending multi-agency strategic SEND Services meetings to ensure that a parent's, children and young people's perspective is included in discussions designed to inform and develop practice. The Service regularly meets with the Parent Carer Forum(PCF) lead.
Although the teams are based in local authority offices, this is away from other SEND and children's services and away from senior managers. This environment protects the confidentiality of the service whilst providing easy access to LA personnel.
Both services have a confidentiality policy in which they adhere to.
- The service has a secure database. Any information that is recorded and stored by the service is confidential and is not shared with anyone without consent.
- IASS staff do not access information relating to a child, young person or their family without consent.
- IASS staff do not contact services without consent.
- Referrals into the service will not be accepted without consent.
- IASS staff do not disclose any information about a child, young person or their family to any other party unless they have their consent.
- IASS service staff do not contact anyone involved with a child or their family without the parents/carers consent.
- IASS staff protect the identity of families when they communicate concerns to other parties.
Role of the Information, advice, and support service:
- The service provides free information, impartial advice and support to parents and carers of children and young people with SEND, or who are excluded from school.
- The service supports parents/carers and young people with admission to school and colleges and participating in policy and service delivery decisions. It does not provide advocacy for parents/carers or young people.
- The service aims to ensure that the views of parents, carers and young people are heard and although local authority personnel are committed to listening to parents and trying to find resolutions to disagreements, they accept that the service must challenge their policies, procedures and practice at times.
- The service helps to resolve disagreements between parents/carers and schools or the local authority and informs parents and carers of their right to disagreement resolutions including mediation or to appeal to SEND.
- To avoid a potential conflict of interest, IASS staff do not attend tribunals with parents, except in a support capacity if required. The team do help parents to prepare their case and offer support after the tribunal decision. Parents/carers are signposted to national or local advocacy organisations if they want somebody to speak on their behalf at a tribunal.
The North Northants and West Northants SEND IAS Services are confidential except when a member of staff or volunteer has a concern relating to safeguarding which takes precedence.
- Referrals to the service by anyone other than a parent or carer can only be made if the parent/carer has consented.
- The service respects the right for users to remain anonymous and will respond to general enquiries without asking for detailed information about a child or the family.
- Any information that a parent gives to IASS staff is confidential and will not be passed to other organisations.
- All staff are Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checked in line with North Northants and West Northants Council's recruitment policy.
- Personal details will only be recorded with parent/carers consent and stored on a secure database in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection act. This information will be accessible IASS staff only.
- All members of staff will undertake not to tell any other person or agency that a parent/carer has approached the service unless the parent gives consent.
- All members of staff will undertake not to contact anybody on a parent's behalf unless the parent/carer gives consent.
- No member of staff will access information about a child or family from other agencies unless the parent/carer gives consent.
- All members of staff will undertake not to share any information about a child or their family without consent.
- All members of staff will ask the parents/carers consent before contacting anyone involved with the family.
- Parents/carers have the right to see any information recorded on them or their child.
- The service will ensure that the identity of families is protected in any information published by the service.
The local authority delegates the responsibility of providing information for parents, carers and young people about SEND legislation and local procedures to the Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS). The service has its own logo, letter heads and branding to reflect its impartiality.
Summary of measures taken to protect impartiality:
- The service has an advisory group which has parents/carers, representatives from voluntary organisations, and health service who are independent of the local authority
- The service manages its own budget
- IASS staff have the authority to challenge local authority policies and practices when in breach of parent's/carers or young people's rights
- The service has an independent telephone line, and all calls remain private and confidential.
- The service has its own logo, website, leaflets and letter heads
- IASS staff are based in Local Authority (LA) offices away from other SEND related services.
- The service operates an independent, secure database that is accessed by IASS staff only.
How an IASS service is run in order to meet the minimum standards
What IASS must do for children and young people with SEND and their families, to meet the minimum standards
We use the term 'advocacy' in these standards, and we are using a definition of advocacy we think accurately describes the work and role of IASS.
North Northants West Northants
0300 373 2532 0300126 1039
The services are wholly confidential except when a member of staff or a volunteer has a concern relating to child protection which must take priority over confidentiality.
Arms Length agreement
Both North Northants and West Northants SEND IAS Services have an Arms-Length agreement with the unitary authorities to retain the impartiality of the services.
What to do if you have a complaint about our service
Please discuss it with the Service Manager who will do all they can to help you.
North Northants – Pippa.Montgomery-Crellin@northnorthants.gov.uk / mobile number when known.
West Northants – Nikk.Taylor@westnorthants.gov.uk
Find a full copy of our complaint procedures below:
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