All local authorities must provide an impartial information, advice and support service (IASS) for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their parents as set out in special educational needs (SEN) legislation and the SEND Code of Practice 2015.
The role of an IASS, is to ensure that children and young people with SEND and their parents are enabled to recognise their rights and take part in decisions that affect themselves or their child/young person. (Section 19, Children and Families Act)
The information, advice and support provided “should be impartial and provided at arm’s length from the local authority and Clinical Commissioning Groups” (SEND Code of Practice 2015 2.8).
All IASS are expected to meet certain minimum standards, developed by the Council for Disabled Children and IASS services alongside the Department of Education (DfE), and based on the SEND Code of Practice.
All references to “parents” throughout this policy includes "parents and carers".
- Impartiality in our services
- Relationship with the local authority
- Supporting parents, children and young people
- Liaising with other professional and organisations
- Steering Group
- Policy effectiveness
- Monitoring the Policy
Impartiality in our services
"Demonstrating impartiality - the Parent Partnership Practice Guide” (Stone 2004.20) states that an impartial stance is demonstrated by:
- reflecting the perspectives and wishes of parents, children and young people
- being seen not to have a vested interested in the outcome of any discussions
- ensuring that staff and volunteers who attend decisions making meetings are clear whether their role is:
- to support or represent an individual
- to contribute and discuss on strategic issues
- to participate in decision-making
York SENDIASS caseworkers will use this guidance on supporting casework, with a clear emphasis on enabling those they are supporting to make informed decisions. This will be done by presenting factual information and advice grounded in legislation and the SEND Code of Practice 2015.
Relationship with the local authority
York SENDIASS is an “in house” service. This means that the service is funded by City of York Council, the local authority, and staff are local authority employees.
It is understood that in order for the service to be seen as independent, neutral and impartial, it must operate at “arm’s length” from the local authority. The local authority recognises and respects this position. York SENDIASS maintains an "arm’s length” position in the following ways:
- the service is measured against national DfE standards, rather than locally agreed parameters
- the service has a delegated budget and independent recording systems
- the service keeps secure all information specifically communicated to it (either orally or in writing) by service users; any Subject Access Request should be made to the IASS, not to the local authority
- the service occupies a separate space from the local authority SEND Team
- the service maintains their own website
- service staff have nationally provided training which ensures the caseworkers have knowledge and understanding of SEND law and guidance, as well as local policy and procedure
- the local authority supports the role of the IASS as an impartial service in networking and collaboration at a national, regional and local levels
- service staff do not take part in local authority decision-making processes
- impartially is a core element of staff training and reflective practice
Supporting parents, children and young people
- will provide parents, children and young people with a balanced and comprehensive range of information enabling them to make informed decisions upon individual circumstances of the referral
- will provide support to ensure that the views of children, young people and their parents can be heard
- may, with consent, put forward the views and wishes of parents, children and young people either during a meeting or telephone call whist, at the same time, ascertaining the views of professionals involved with the family
- will inform the Service Manager of any conflict of interest in relation to individual families, such as holding a position as a governor at a related school; these cases will be referred to other team members
- will signpost parents, children and young people to other agencies that enable them to verify the impartiality of the information and advice provided such as the Advisory Centre for Education, IPSEA
- will, where possible and circumstances permitting, state their role at the beginning of meetings they attend in order to clarify the position taken
- will maintain professional relationships with the parents, children and young people they support
Liaising with other professional and organisations
York SENDIASS Staff and volunteers:
- may have parental or young person’s consent to act as an intermediary by relaying their perspective to school or local authority professionals; this does not indicate bias in favour of the parent or young person, nor does it represent the views of IASS staff
- should make it clear that they have no vested interest in the outcome of any decision-making process which are in relation to an individual child, young person or family
- will maintain an impartial stance whilst collaborating and engaging with relevant organisation and networks
York SENDIASS has its own identity, including service and headed notepaper which takes precedence over other identities.
The service has responsibility for the content and maintenance of its own web pages, it includes relevant internal and external links and downloads.
Publications routinely include references and recommendations for further reading.
York SENDIASS staff and volunteers providing advice have access to nationally provided training, which ensures they have a sound knowledge and understanding of SEND law and guidance, as well as local policy and practice.
Information sessions and training provided by IASS will include a range of providers and organisations to ensure impartial delivery.
The IASS Steering Group has representation from a number of agencies and professionals and includes parents who have been involved with service and who are well placed to provide a parental perspective on the effectiveness and impartiality of the service activity.
Steering Group meetings are chaired by a parent member.
The Steering Group has Terms of Reference which include monitoring the effectiveness and impartiality of all service delivery.
On initial contact the impartiality statement will be verbally shared with parents, children or young people either over the phone or face to face, IASS literature states the impartial nature of the service.
A copy of the Impartially Policy will be published on the service website and copies of the Policy will be made available to service users when requested.
Every effort will be made to publicise the impartial role of the IASS to other service and organisations.
Existing and new staff and volunteers will be introduced to the policy through induction and training and it is expected that all staff will adhere to the principles of the impartiality outlined in the policy.
Monitoring the Policy
Day-to-day monitoring of the policy will be undertaken by the Service Manager.
Feedback from service users will act as a reflection of service satisfaction.
Members of the Steering Group will periodically be asked to monitor the impartiality of the information developed and provided by the service.
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.