This information explains how we ensure the impartial information, advice and support we provide is impartial, as required by the SEND Code of Practice.
- What does the SEND Code of Practice Say?
- What do we mean when we say we are impartial?
- How do we know that we are impartial?
- What information, advice and support do we offer?
- Is the service confidential?
- Where can I find out more?
What does the SEND Code of Practice say?
The Children and Families Act 2014 (statute) 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 (statutory guidance) 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 must ensure the provision of a service that is free, easy to access and confidential and that can help children, parents and young people take an informed 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 Surrey County Council this service is provided by SSIASS.
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 an informed part in decisions about their lives.
How do we know that we are impartial?
It is very easy to be biased, everyone has opinions about most things, and sometimes people can be biased without even realising it!
That is why we 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 SSIASS we follow a set of Quality Standards for services providing impartial information, advice and support developed by the National 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 Groups in our area.
What information, advice and support do we offer?
We offer accurate, up to date 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 options, rights and responsibilities;
- your opportunities to participate;
- where you can find help and advice; and
- how you can access this support.
We provide information in various ways, including our helpline, website, publications, local surgeries – both individual and group, training events and conferences.
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 can offer this advice 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 help with letters, attending meetings with you or supporting you in discussions with the local authority, school or other setting. We may be able to help you find a volunteer who can support you.
When we are not able to help we will do our best to signpost or put you in touch with other groups or organisations that can help.
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.
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 Surrey County Council arrangements for providing information, advice and support.
And look at our SSIASS website for information about our services, copies of our publications and contact details.