About us

We are trained by IPSEA through the National IASS network. Each of our team members complete an initial 90 hours of accredited legal training, so that we can give you information based on legislation rather than local policy. We regularly receive training updates to ensure that the information we share is correct and current.

We work to a set of national Minimum Standards for services providing impartial information, advice and support relating to Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). The Minimum Standards are developed by the Information, Advice and Support Services Network

We provide unbiased information and advice about the local authority’s policies and procedures, about health services and provision in relation to SEND, and about the policy and practice in local schools and other settings.

You may find the answer to some of your questions by looking through the information on this site and through our social media channels. We have some downloadable leaflets and factsheets.

If you can’t find the answers to your questions, you can get in touch directly. Our ‘Contact us’ page explains the ways you can do this.

Watch this video from the Council for Disabled Children, which explains what information, advice and support services provide:

Council for Disabled Children video to explain IAS services

Click on a heading below to read more information.

Our remit

The SEND Code of Practice 2015 says:

Local authorities must ensure that children, young people and parents are provided with the information, advice and support necessary to enable them to participate in discussions and decisions about their support. (1.9)

Information, advice and support should be impartial and provided at arm’s-length from the local authority and Clinical Commissioning Groups. (2.8)

Local authorities are responsible for arranging Information, Advice and Support to be available for children & young people with SEND and their parents and carers.

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. 

How we ’empower’ families

We support children, young people and their parents and carers to understand their rights and help them to share their views and wishes. We help families…

  • to feel confident to express their views and participate
  • understand their rights in relation to SEND
  • find positive ways to communicate with schools and the local authority
  • with questions about their or their child’s SEN, including choosing a school and the process of SEN support (assess/plan/do/review cycle).
  • through the EHC needs assessment and plan processes including help with forms, reports or letters etc
  • by providing information to enable informed choices
  • where there are disagreements with school, the local authority or a health provider, we can explore options and support with next steps, including with school exclusion hearings, complaints to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) and with SEND tribunals.

We aim to build confidence and understanding and to empower the child, young person or parent/carer to move forward positively. We support the child/young person or parent/carer to participate and are therefore not led by any other agenda. Support is tailored to the needs of the person accessing the service.

When we receive a request for information, advice and support we consider how our information and advice (including training) might enable the child, young person or parent to understand their choices and help them with their chosen option.

Where information, advice and support needs cannot be met via these available resources we provide additional advice or ongoing support to:

  1. Children and young people aged up to 25 with special educational needs or disability who approach the service directly, and who require support to take part in processes and to help them express their views and wishes.
  2. Parents and carers who require additional support due to the complexity of their or their child’s circumstances, or their own needs for example because they:
  • have a learning difficulty,
  • are disabled or have medical or mental health issues,
  • do not have English as their first language,


Where they would have trouble engaging with SEND processes without support from a member of the SENDIASS team.

3. Other situations as determined by and at the discretion of Suffolk SENDIASS as requiring our support.

We recognise the changing needs of people who use our service and are flexible with the level of support we provide at any given time.

Read more about how we provide support in the IASS Definition of Advocacy and in the national intervention levels guidance.


What you talk to us about is confidential. Any personal information you share will be held confidentially and securely within the SENDIAS service.

We would only talk to other people outside of SENDIASS with your consent. The only exception to this would be where there is a concern for someone’s safety, or where we are required to comply with Ofsted as part of a SEND local inspection.

Our ways of working ensure:

  • we will only ask you for information which is relevant and purposeful
  • personal data we collect from you is stored in a database, accessed only by members of the Suffolk SENDIAS service
  • access to the database is password protected with 2 levels of security
  • laptops and other devices are locked when not in use
  • emails and web contact forms are deleted in Outlook once responded to and relevant information transferred to our database
  • written information is kept securely for as long as it is needed, transferred to the database if deemed necessary to keep, and then disposed of through confidential waste as soon as possible
  • telephone calls and online meetings maintain privacy
  • we can have face to face conversations with you, which cannot be overheard

Social media platforms have their own terms and conditions in relation to data, consent and privacy. We would ask that any sensitive information (about you, your child, or anything which mentions someone else by name) be shared with us directly through Direct Messaging within the channel, by completing a web contact form, or contacting us by email, text or phone.

We regularly host group information sessions and attend informal groups and coffee mornings, and encourage conversations to be limited to general discussion.

You can request a copy of information we hold, restrict how we may use it, or withdraw consent at any time. For more information about your rights in relation to the information we collect and hold, read our privacy notice.


The information, advice and support that we offer is firmly based in the law and statutory guidance such as the SEND Code of Practice. 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.

How do we ensure we are impartial (neutral, fair, and unbiased)?

  • We’re trained in SEND law, so that we can give you accurate information and advice
  • We work at ‘arms-length’ to the local authority
  • We listen to your questions and concerns
  • We give you information about the available options
  • We do not judge, nor seek to blame anyone
  • The advice we provide is not based on our own opinions 
  • We will not tell you what to do
  • We have no personal interest in the outcome of any decision
  • What you talk to us about is confidential
  • We would only contact someone else where you have asked us to do so
  • We act separately with no undue influence or control from the local authority and Integrated Care Boards.

We ask people using the service to tell us how neutral, fair and unbiased they found us to be, and results are published each year in our Annual Report. The links to our recent Annual Reports can be found on our ‘Facts, figures and feedback’ page.

Our Advisory group help us to monitor how well we are meeting the national set of Minimum Standards for SENDIAS services.

Read our impartiality leaflet (opens PDF)


Co-production is an approach where people with lived experiences of support needs become equal partners in the creation and development of services or resources which can meet those needs.

We are committed to co-production.  We want our information to be shaped by you, and created with you. Everyone’s views are important and everyone has something to contribute.

Working together is the best way to get results.

We promise to:

  • Decide together what to focus on
  • Welcome you and help you feel safe and comfortable
  • Give you the time and space you need to share your views
  • Listen to you and respect your views, without judgement
  • Value everyone’s opinions
  • Be honest with you
  • Avoid using jargon
  • Let you know about progress every step of the way
  • Be open with how decisions are made
  • Share how your contributions have shaped our information.

Our customer charter

At the heart of our service is our commitment to providing children, young people and their parents and carers with the information, advice and support they need to take a full and equal part in discussions and decisions around SEND.

We will:

  • be impartial and work at arms-length to the local authority to offer you neutral, unbiased information and advice
  • provide our staff with the training they need to respond to questions about SEND
  • aim to respond to individual enquiries within five working days
  • maintain confidentiality
  • listen to your questions and concerns
  • give you accurate information and advice about your options, based on what the law says
  • not judge, or seek to blame anyone
  • not tell anyone what to do, nor express our own opinion on what they should do
  • always be ready to adapt the way we work, to make sure we meet the needs of people who use our service
  • treat our customers with respect, courtesy and friendliness
  • aim to develop and coproduce information and training which matches the needs of families
  • invite feedback about the service, through customer surveys, consultations, with coproduction and via our advisory group
  • share general themes and experiences of families, with the local authority, health providers and community or voluntary organisations, to help inform and influence local policy and practice

You can read more about what we do in our national Minimum Standards.

We strive to give people the best possible service. If we have fallen short of your expectations, please let us know as soon as possible by emailing: enquiries@suffolksendiass.co.uk, marking for the attention of the Service Lead.

Inappropriate behaviour aimed at our staff

Our experience is that people who use the service are friendly, polite and courteous to our staff. We understand that sometimes people will be in very emotional circumstances, and we will make reasonable allowances. We will, however, take seriously any personal attacks, threats or intimidating behaviour or language aimed at our staff, whether in person, on the phone or through social media. We will not tolerate discriminatory language.

We will take action, which might include:

  • ending a phone call or other exchange
  • encouraging use of our usual routes for giving feedback or making a complaint
  • reviewing our practice and anything we can learn from this to improve our service

In some cases, we may decide to:

  • refuse to provide any further information, advice and support to someone
  • delete a social media post or comment
  • block a user or leave a conversation
  • report our concerns to the social media platform provider
  • log staff distress as a health and safety incident
  • report it to the police, if our staff feel threatened or harassed

SENDIASS and the national SEND review

In October 2022, the Education Committee published a response from the Secretary of State for Education regarding the Government’s special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) review, which included a reference to SENDIAS services.

It said:

Disadvantaged children and young people with SEND

We have noted the Committee’s recommendation to introduce a neutral role to address the challenges families face in navigating the SEND system. The new national standards will include greater clarity on the role of local SEND Information, Advice and Support Services (SENDIASS) who provide impartial support to families and help them navigate processes including their options for redress.

Rt Hon Kit Malthouse MP, Secretary of State for Education (letter to the Education Committee 11th October 2022)