Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information, Advice and Support Services (SENDIASS) are statutory services offering free impartial advice and information for children, young people and their parents, about special educational needs (SEN) procedures as set out in SEN legislation and the SEN Code of Practice 2015.
SENDIASS are expected to meet certain minimum standards as prescribed by the government and to ensure that services are delivered with confidentiality and impartiality, which are key to providing services that parents and young people will trust.
York SENDIASS is committed to providing a confidential service to its users and recognises that all children, young people and their parents should be able to access the service in confidence. York SENDIASS respects the right of anyone to contact the service anonymously and will not try to elicit detailed information if the caller wishes to preserve their anonymity. The service is committed to the principle that children, young people and their parents have a right to expect that the information they share with us will:
- be respected and not passed on to anyone else without their express permission (unless we have a statutory obligation to do so)
- that we will handle any such information in ways that conform with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and Data Protection Act requirements
Note: All references to “parents” throughout this policy includes "parents and carers".
- Practical arrangements
- Use of data
- Provision of information
- Policy effectiveness
- Monitoring the Policy
York SENDIASS operates a self-referral system where children, young people and their parents contact the service directly through the dedicated phone lines, email and face-to-face. With the permission of the parent or young person referrals can be made by practitioners, educational settings staff and other services including health and social care services.
We will only provide in depth casework support directly to children and young people or to those parents who hold parental responsibility. Children and young people and their parents may occasionally contact the service independently of each other in which case staff will treat both as separate enquires. Extended family members who contact the service will only be offered general information not pertaining to an individual unless prior consent is obtained.
Our staff will not tell any other person or agency that a parent or young person has approached the service without the parent or young person’s agreement.
Our staff will always obtain permission from parents and young people prior to speaking to or discussing the situation with other professionals and this consent will be recorded.
We will always obtain permission from parents and young people to access any records from other professionals; these are often required in order to build a background of the case and to provide appropriate support.
We will encourage service users to share relevant information with school staff, other services or individuals where it is in the best interests of the child or parent to do so.
With the parent or child’s consent York SENDIASS staff will work closely with other practitioners and organisations supporting children with special educational needs in compliance with the York Children and Young People’s Information Sharing Protocol.
We are located in West Offices, with some home working. York SENDIASS office space is separate from the SEN services.
The service has a confidential email address and telephone line. When sending information care will be taken to establish the correct mailing details.
We would usually consider it acceptable to contact parents and young people via home telephone and mobile telephones, but should check with parents and young people whether it is acceptable to call them at work or leave messages on answerphones or with family members.
Case work records are held within the York SENDIASS database and will be treated confidentially. Information held by York SENDIASS is not accessible by other services within the Local Authority. Electronic information held by the service is password protected and can only be accessed by York SENDIASS Staff.
Use of data
York SENDIASS is bound by statutory and legal requirements, including:
- Data Protection Act
- Freedom of Information Act
- Children’s and Families Act
- Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
- Prevention of Terrorism Act
As part of the arrangements under the GDPR which came into effect on 25 May 2018, York SENDIASS has provided a full privacy notice on its website. The notice outlines the reasons for collecting information and data from service users.
The service complies with safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults procedures.
The only exception to confidentiality is in regard to information which leads us to believe a person is at serious risk of harm; we have a legal obligation to pass on concerns regarding child protection and are required to comply with the City of York Council practice with regard to Safeguarding. All staff have a legal obligation to report concerns. Concerns regarding a risk of harm should be discussed with the Service Manager.
Provision of information
Should there be a Subject Access Request for Personal Information from a parent, child or young person, whose information is held by York SENDIASS, the request will be dealt with in line with the principles in the Data Protection Act.
A copy of the confidentiality policy will be displayed on the York SENDIASS website.
On initial contact the confidentiality statement will be verbally shared either on the phone or face-to-face.
SENDASS literature states the confidential nature of the service.
Existing and new staff and volunteers will be introduced to this policy via induction and training and it is expected that all York SENDIASS staff and volunteers will adhere to this policy.
Volunteers with the service will be expected to sign a confidentiality agreement.
Monitoring the Policy
Day to day monitoring of the policy will be undertaken by the Service Manager.
The service seeks feedback from service users of how confidential they felt the service to be.
This policy will be reviewed annually by the York SENDIASS Steering Group. Any Amendments should be agreed and recorded in the minutes of the meeting.