Parent guides, drop-in sessions and links for families of children with special educational needs.
Helpline for parents
Do you have concerns about your child’s education or would like some help in approaching school or nursery? Would you like support at a meeting or to talk through what you want to say?
We are here to help you, whether you are wondering if your child has special educational needs, or already gets extra help at school, has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or is in special school. Contact us Monday – Friday (9.30- 2.30) or leave a message on our answerphone and we will get back to you, it may take 5 working days.
Virtual Talking Points drop-in advice sessions
If you would like to find out more about the SEN system, or are looking for a chance to talk things through, join us at one of our free Talking Points drop-in sessions which run from 10-11.30am usually on the first Wednesday and the third Friday of each month, during term time.
The sessions are normally held in County Hall but during the current time, we would like to offer you a personal 1-1 telephone meeting with one of our Advisors. To reserve a time slot (initially for half an hour), please email [email protected] or telephone 07786524294 and Liz Kinch, our Administrator, will arrange an appointment for you.
Dates for academic year 2023/2024 are:
SENDIASS Advice for parents videos
SENDIASS- how can we help? That will probably be the first thing you hear if you ring us.
SENDIASS is a bit of a mouthful, it stands for SEN & Disability Information and Advice Service, We used to be called Parent Partnership but since Sept 2014, we now also provide a service directly to young people with SEN & Disabilities 16-25 so we had to change the name.
If you are a parent of a child with special educational needs or disabilities, SENDIASS, can help you in a variety of ways. We can help you at all stages, any age and any type of difficulty.
Perhaps you are concerned about how your child is doing and wondering if they do have additional needs, we can help you look at what progress a child is expected to make and talk about how schools decide whether a child does have difficulties with learning.
If you already know your child has SEN or a disability but are wondering about their progress and the level of support they receive, we can advise you how to approach the school with your concerns and often suggest you make an appointment at school to discuss things. If it would help, we can try to find someone to come to the meeting with you. We have some fantastic volunteers called Independent Parental Supporters.
It really helps to have someone to talk it through with beforehand , and afterwards as well.
They often will take notes if you ask them, and also help make sure you ask everything you want to.
Some children have greater levels of difficulties with their learning which might mean that the school needs outside help and extra funding to provide the right support. Children or young people with the greatest needs may be supported through an EHC Plan. You might have heard about these and wonder whether your child needs an assessment to see whether they do need a EHC plan to support their learning.
We can talk you through how this process workS, the paperwork that needs to accompany any request and suggest the evidence that would help the LA to make a decision on whether to carry out an EHC Needs Assessment for your child. We also have volunteers called Independent Supporters who can help support you through the EHC needs assessment and EHC Plan paperwork and meetings
How else can we help?
We can advise about choosing a school, and sometimes one of our volunteers might be able to come with you when visiting schools.
Your child might have difficulties with their behaviour and be being excluded from school, we can also advise on exclusions matters and the law.
If you think your child is being discriminated against because of their difficulties or disabilities, we can support you in raising concerns about disability discrimination
All our information advice and support is free, impartial, confidential and up to date
Parents that have received help and support What did SENDIASS do to help your family?
We’ve got a son with complex disabilities and SENDIASS helped us to sort of manoeuvre through the bureauracy, the systems and the processes that we were unfamiliar with and they helped us present our case with sort of less passion and more understanding and so we were actually heard better by the authorities and we ended getting some help that I’m not sure we would have got on our own.
They helped me with supported and advice over the phone and through termly meetings with me and my husband outside of the school.
They did a lot for me they actually helped me decipher this minefield that was a Statement at the time and what was for the best interest for my child so they gave me the advice that I needed to help get the support that he needed.
What difference did it make?
I think we were hurt more, I think when you go into educational establishments and you try to meet with teachers and other professionals you are not necessarily taken seriously as a parent, but with the SENDIASS support they helped to put things into perspective and you are actually listened to and it moves things forward.
They gave us support when we needed it, both through knowing the right things to do and say, emotional moral support and just having someone else at meetings who understood our point of view and understood our frustrations.
It made a huge difference to myself and to my son because he got into a special educational needs school and then that took some pressure off of myself because I felt that actually I was being listened to and understood and heard and it just changed my life in lots of ways as well.
Did you have a Volunteer IPS who helped you?
Yes, we had someone come to meetings at our son’s school when things were very, very difficult, and again when he was in a different primary school and we knew that he needed to move on to special school.
I had somebody from the SENDIASS team, but I think if I had had one of the volunteers,
knowing them and what training they get, I think I would have got the same sort of response and support whichever way.
I didn’t, I actually had some support directly from SENDIASS or Parent Partnership as it was then.
How did it help?
It helped us having someone come to meetings with us who understood the frustrations we were having and was able to give advice to us but also to speak in meetings. It helped us to fill in forms and know what was the right thing to write and to say, to get what we needed for our son.
We ended up getting our son into the right educational establishment and he’sthriving and is happy and healthy and they did that through helping us with the paperwork, getting us to complete the Education and Health Care Plan that was called the Statement in our time and through that process
They tackled the issues that I had and gave me the advice that I needed.
What would you say to other parents?
I think it is really important, I think that without their help we wouldn’t be where we aretoday we wouldn’t have such a healthy child and in such a good place.
I’d encourage them to do it, whether it is a quick question on the phone or a longer conversation, or whether just to have an Independent Parental Supporter to come and chat with them or to come to meetings with them, its invaluable.
Definitely do it, it makes such a difference, because you can feel that you are being heard, you are being listened to and actually you are being supported and they are the key things that you really need when your tackling this minefield is actuallysomeone that’s there to understand you and in what you are going through.
We have various guides for parents, which you can download below:
*Alert: From April 2021 the Department for Education have changed the terminology describing fixed term exclusions. ‘Fixed term excluded’ will be referred to as ‘suspended’.