Information, Advice and Support
Welcome to the SEND Partnership Service we offer free, impartial and confidential information, advice and support to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their parents/carers.
Our aim is to make sure you know who to ask, where to go and what you are entitled to, enabling you to make the best choices for your family.
Advice and Support
We can offer information, advice and support around Education, Health and Social Care, with the aim of empowering you to make informed decisions for your child’s or young person’s future. You may find it useful to talk to us, so we can advise you about the information that may be helpful to you.
We also provide training to make sure you are confident in making the right decisions and dealing with each situation.
Our team is trained in SEND legislation, but we are not legal or financial advisors, health or social care professionals. However, we may be able to signpost you to those who provide advice in these areas. We do our utmost to give information and advice that is current, accurate and impartial.
By talking to us about how to prepare for a meeting and ensuring your voice is heard, for example, you should feel more confident about what to say and what to prioritise. We can often help you to do this do this by phone or email.
Sometimes it can be helpful to talk face to face, or have someone in a meeting with you, supporting you to raise issues and ask questions. This could be an Information and Advice Officer or one of our trained Volunteer Supporters.
What do we mean by impartial information, advice and support?
The Children and Families Act 2014 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 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 should provide a service that is free, easy to access and confidential and that can help children, parents and young people take part in decisions that affect their lives.
In Bath and North East Somerset, we provide this service for parents and carers of young people aged 0-25 with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) as well as young people themselves.
Every Local Authority must produce a Local Offer which must include information about the sources of information, advice and support for parents, children and young people and how this is resourced. The Bath and North East Somerset local offer is the Rainbow Resource.
What do we mean when we say we are impartial?
The information, advice and support that we offer are firmly based in the law and the SEND Code of Practice. 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)
In accordance with this guidance, 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 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! Sometimes people can be biased without even realising it.
That is why we really 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 SEND Partnership Service (Bath and North East Somerset) we follow a national set of Minimum Standards developed by the Network of Information, Advice and Support Services. This helps us to monitor the effectiveness of our 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 Group in our area.
We also publish an Annual Report that includes information on what people tell us about our service.
What information, advice and support do we offer?
We offer accurate, up to date and impartial 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 rights and choices
your opportunities to participate
where you can find help and advice
how you can access this support.
We provide information in many ways, including here on our website, publications, 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 call this advice and we offer this service 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 helping with letters, attending meetings with you or supporting you in discussions with the local authority, school or other setting.
If you are using other agencies to help you, for example consultants or solicitors, we will still be able to provide information, advice and support but we will ask you what the other agencies are doing for you so that we can avoid duplication and confusion.
When we are not able to help we will do our best to tell you about, or put you in touch with, other groups or organisations that can help. We call this signposting.
Is the service confidential?
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.
Meet the Team
SPS is a team based in the Civic Centre, Keynsham providing a service for the whole of Bath and North East Somerset. The Team consists of:
The SPS Manager has overall strategic responsibility for the service and compliance with National Minimum Standards for Information and Advice services and the local authority and clinical commissioning group contract. Management of the day to day running of the service
Enquiry and Referral Officer
The Enquiry and Referral Officer manages our contact points telephone advice line, email, text and web form and triages calls before forwarding to the Information and Advice Officers.
The Enquiry and Referral Officer also coordinates our social media campaign and talks regularly to our customers to ensure we have meaningful and useful feedback about the service.
Information and Advice Officers (I&A Officers)
The I&A Officers provide support for children, young people and their families so that they can make informed choices about their child or young person’s education. The support is confidential and can be by telephone, email or face to face contact and starts when a concern is raised about a child or young person’s education.
The I&A Officers can help families to understand and contribute to SEND processes and procedures up to and including assessment for education, health and care plans, around transfer reviews and where an exclusion from school has occurred, or is likely to. A large proportion of the work covered by the Team relates to SEN support in schools or Early Year’s settings – where the threshold for a plan has not been met.
I&A Officers will prepare families for SEND related meetings, including attendance at meetings. They will also signpost to useful information, advice, legal and advocacy services.
The admin officer provides the full range of admin support for the whole Team.
The Volunteer Co-ordinator is responsible for recruiting, training and supporting our team of trained Volunteer Supporters and Parent Champions.
Volunteer Supporters can meet with families under the direction and support of our Information and Advice Officers where the family need is less complex.
Parent Champions attend community events, groups etc to inform families of what the SEND Partnership Service does and raise awareness of local organisations who may be able to support in other areas of family life.
See our Volunteers page for further information.