Frequently Asked Questions about the SENDIAS Service
Information Series – November 2022
What exactly is the SENDIAS Service’s role?
SEND and You (SAY) SENDIAS Service provides information, advice and support (IAS) to children and young people with any type of special educational need and/or disability (SEND) and their parents and carers that is
- Confidential and
Our goals at SEND and You are to
- Provide information, advice, support and training
- Work together
- Promote participation
- Enable Decision-making
Who is SAY SENDIAS Service for?
Children and young people with SEND can use our service (SAY SENDIAS) independently to ensure their views are shared; they understand educational processes and can contribute to decisions about their future.
Parents and carers with parental responsibility can use SAY SENDIAS Service to understand their own and their children and young people with SEND’s rights, as well as processes and policies. They can also use our service to support them with practical guidance and support in voicing their views.
Professionals (including schools and the local authorities) are able to use the information advice and support on offer to build on their own knowledge and understanding. They can also enable children and young people, as well as parents and carers to access the SENDIAS Service.
How is SAY SENDIAS Service monitored?
SAY SENDIAS Service is monitored by each of the local authorities which commission it; Education and Social Care both contribute to the LA funding. We are also monitored by the NHS as SAY is jointly commissioned by the NHS. The local authorities and NHS monitor the service to ensure that we are offering the service that we publicise. They also ensure that we are meeting the Minimum Standards for SENDIAS Services.
We also currently report to the Information, Advice and Support Programme – led by the Council for Disabled Children and the Department of Education. These bodies also ensure that we are meeting all of the Minimum Standards.
The relevant Minimum Standards will be referred to throughout these questions and answers.
How independent and unbiased is SAY SENDIAS Service?
By supporting good partnership working, we will encourage service-users and professionals to work more closely together, in the interests of children and young people with SEND. The Information, Advice and Support we give is independent and impartial in line with the Minimum Standards for SENDIAS Services.
We offer impartial and confidential information, advice and support (IAS) to enable our service users to make their OWN decisions and choices.
We support parent, carers and young people to follow complaints procedures if necessary. Ultimately, the SENDIAS Service has no power to influence outcomes of these complaints, which is as it should be. We provide advocacy as defined by the Minimum Standards.
How is SAY SENDIAS Service funded?
SAY is mainly funded through service level agreements with local authorities and the local NHS. We do also have some funding streams from other sources to enhance our remit. For example, until the end of March 2022, we had some funding from the Council for Disabled Children. This is the same for all SENDIAS Services across the country. SAY SENDIAS Service is jointly commissioned, which means that the money that we receive from the local authority comes from Education, Health and Social Care. The money that we receive must be used to ensure that we provide the services that we promote and that we meet the Minimum Standards. The local authority does not control our budget.
What kind of training do the SAY SENDIAS Service helpline staff have to complete?
All of the staff at SAY who work with families are trained to IPSEA Level 3. IPSEA Level 3 law training is advanced level training, designed for professionals advising or supporting families of children and young people with SEND. The role of the SENDIAS Service is to provide independent and impartial advice. At times this may mean giving advice/information which service users do not necessarily agree with. We try our very best to make sure information is legally and factually correct. As a whole, our team has a wide range of experience, including specialist knowledge of each of the three local authorities.
Can I make a complaint to SAY SENDIAS Service if I am not happy?
If anyone is not happy with the information that they receive through SAY SENDIAS Service, the service has a complaints procedure. The details of how to complain can be found through SAY’s website. The service has a board of trustees who oversee what is happening and complaints will be seen by the board.
Can SAY SENDIAS Service offer advice on health and social care issues, as well as education?
SAY will discuss and give advice on topics related to education which can cover education (learning), health, and social care. We cover impartial information, advice and support (IAS) on the full range of education, health and social care as defined in the SEND Code of Practice.
Does SAY SENDIAS Service offer advice for families regarding issues other than EHCPs?
Our service covers all aspects of special educational needs and disabilities, from promoting inclusion to social care and health concerns, appeals, complaints and exclusions where SEND may be identified.
Examples of the range of information that we cover are:
- Concerns from the earliest stages of getting help SEN Support from early years to post-19
- Statutory work, which may lead to an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and beyond
- Ways of accessing services to support education
- Signposting to other services
- Disagreement resolution
We will always give IAS about general support for pupils with SEND (diagnosed or undiagnosed) expected to be available in educational settings.
Where is SAY based?
SAY SENDIAS Service has its own office in Queen’s Square, Bristol. This is the central base for the team although teams also work in locations in each local authority, for example, to run a SEND surgery or support group. SAY is not based within local authority offices and is an independent service and a registered charity.
Does SAY SENDIAS Service support families by attending meetings with them?
Our aim is to enable our service users to participate independently in meetings following our input. However, attending meetings is part of the service that we offer when it is necessary.
We do work individually with service users in preparing for and attending meetings. For example, helping them prepare for a meeting and to consider ways of expressing their views in a meeting.
SAY may agree to attend with a service user where the following has been established first:
- There is no other friend or family member who can attend with the service user
- The service user has disclosed a learning difficulty (or mental health difficulty) or disability which prevents them from being able to put across their views independently
- The service user is a CYP and has requested independent support
- There are other access requirements that need to be addressed, for example, English is an additional language for the service user
- The meeting is a mediation or tribunal hearing and one of the above also apply
Where we are unable to attend a meeting, we always offer a telephone call or meeting to help prepare. We also signpost to resources and make suggestions about other people who may be able to attend alongside the family.
How do I get through to SAY SENDIAS Service to speak to someone?
Our dedicated Information, Advice & Support (IAS) line is open from 9.30am – 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.
If the line is busy, you can leave a message on our answer phone, which is also available outside of hours. It is easy to contact us through email or via the contact form on our website if you find that our phonelines are busy. Incoming emails are monitored all day and you will still hear back from us as quickly as possible.
If you leave a message, we will do our best to call you back within the next two working days. We return all calls in the order that they were made, but please bear in mind that during particularly busy times, this may take us longer. Whilst we often give ongoing support, we can’t guarantee that you will be helped by the same advisor each time.
The SENDIASS is not an emergency service. If a service user has an emergency, we use our protocols for addressing this during our standard office hours.
We also deliver an accessible service with information electronically available on our website and Facebook page for all service users, including professionals working with children and young people with SEND, parents and carers and other stakeholders.
What can’t SAY SENDIAS Service support with?
SAY cannot offer information, advice or support on issues that are not linked to SEND, for example, financial matters like benefits, Disability Living Allowance, Carers’ Allowance.
It is also not within our remit to:
- Offer to automatically complete paperwork on behalf of service users – we use our discretion based on the individual needs of the service user on a case-by-case basis.
- Complete forms or support service users to complete forms that address issues not related to SEND.
- Allocate a named ‘support worker’ within the IAS Team.
It is important to state that we are not specialists or experts on specific therapies or conditions. We would not give advice about this as it is not in our remit. Our staff are trained specifically in SEND law.
Does SAY SENDIAS Service signpost to other services?
SAY will offer impartial and confidential information, advice and support (IAS) on topics related to special educational needs and disabilities which can cover education (learning), health, and social care.
SAY will offer IAS about factual information that may impact on CYP with SEND for example, local policy and practice, the Local Offer, personalisation, Personal Budgets, the law on SEN and disability, health and social care. We help CYP, families and partners we work with to understand statutory SEND processes and navigate through a range of topics.
SAY will signpost to local sources of information, advice and support including the SEND Local Offer; national sources of information, advice and support including CONTACT; as well as our own resources like toolkits, guides, recordings, support groups and events. We will signpost to external services when an enquiry is outside of our remit or to offer a wider range of resources.
It is a legal requirement for the Local Offer to provide a list of resources available or which it anticipates to be available in its area. We would always signpost to the Local Offer. We also signpost to information about schools/settings out of area.