Support is the additional routes of information, advice and discussion that might help children, families and young people understand SEND, the EHC process and their options


The Code of Practice principles


  • the participation of children, their parents and young people in decision- making
  • the early identification of children and young people’s needs and early intervention to support them
  • greater choice and control for young people and parents over support
  • collaboration between education, health and social care services to provide support
  • high quality provision to meet the needs of children and young people with SEN a focus on inclusive practice and removing barriers to learning
  • successful preparation for adulthood, including independent living and employment

For this to happen children, families and young people need to be informed and supported to understand their child’s needs, the systems they will be engaging with and their choices.

What the code of practice says

Click here to read the document online

2.1  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.

2.2  Local authorities must take steps to make these services known to children, their parents and young people in their area; head teachers, proprietors and principals of schools and post-16 institutions in their area, and others where appropriate.

2.3  They must ensure that their Local Offer includes details of how information, advice and support related to SEN and disabilities can be accessed and how it is resourced (Chapter 4, The Local Offer).

2.4  Information, advice and support should be provided through a dedicated and easily identifiable service. Local authorities have established Information, Advice and Support Services (formerly known as Parent Partnership services) to provide information, advice and support to parents in relation to SEN. In addition, many local authorities provide or commission information, advice and support services for young people. Local authorities should build on these existing services to provide the information, advice and support detailed in this chapter.

2.5  Information, Advice and Support Services should be impartial, confidential and accessible and should have the capacity to handle face-to-face, telephone and electronic enquiries.

2.17 The local authority must ensure children, young people and parents are provided with information and advice on matters relating to SEN and disability. This should include:

    1. local policy and practice

    2. the Local Offer

    3. personalisation and Personal Budgets

    4. law on SEN and disability, health and social care, through suitably independently trained staff

    5. advice for children, young people and parents on gathering, understanding and interpreting information and applying it to their own situation

    6. information on the local authority’s processes for resolving disagreements, its complaints procedures and means of redress

2.20  Families may receive help from an independent supporter, provided by private voluntary and community sector organisations, who is independent of the local authority. Independent supporters will be recruited locally and receive accredited training, including legal training, to help any family going through an EHC needs assessment and the process of developing an EHC plan. Local authorities should work with organisations that are providing independent supporters to ensure there are arrangements agreed locally to offer help from an independent supporter to as many families as possible who require it.


Family Stories …

Parents want …

To feel involved

They really feel involved in the process and respect this. It sets up a much more productive relationship with the whole team and feels more focused on the child, with everyone working together.

Some are having to be excessively proactive. Although it is clearly the tendency of some parents to find out information for themselves and ensure the process is working as they have understood it should, some parents are having to lead the process and lead the professionals

Effective signposting

Many are confused about the process, especially in the early stages when they need most information and help. Very few were aware of the IAS services, but mainly, if they had heard about them at some point, they were not aware of what exactly this service could help with.

Even less families have heard of Independent Supporters. Often parents are in need of someone to discuss their case and decisions with and yet have no knowledge of the Independent Support service.

The Local Offer publicising

Few parents had heard of, seen or knowingly used the Local Offer. The phrase itself seemed completely new to most parents, and not one that they easily understood

When told about it many could see the value of this and how helpful it would be to their family

The Local Offer is seen in many cases as simply a list of things to do and so of very little value for families going through the EHCP process

Some thought it would be much more useful if it actually looked at unmet needs locally

National support groups

Parents are likely to have found information on the EHC process from national charities and organisations. They often find this helpful.

Some parents appreciate information from the perspective of their child’s needs, so are looking for support from specialist disability charities

Local specialist organisations are also a good source of support for parents

Information in different formats

Written information is helpful, to take away, consider and come back to but parents also want someone to explain what information means for them and their family

Not all parents are happy finding information online and so want it provided in a range of ways

Discussing information, advice and options was highly valued by all families

Information and support

Some are quite ill-informed generally about SEND support, where to go for help and what the EHC process involves. Many say they are struggling with the process, to come to terms with their child’s needs and manage this on top of their everyday responsibilities.

They want more help and information and in particular someone to talk to about their situation

Even when very good support is being provided by the SEN team parents can still want the advice of someone independent from the process – as a check that what they are being told and understanding is right as well as the perspective of someone who has seen other parents go through the process.


Independent support

Parents value an ‘outside’ opinion to check that their process is working as it should as well as an informed person to discuss their thoughts with

There is a real benefit to this being from someone not seen as ‘part of the LA’

Some parents believe they are not being directed to such services as they may provide too much challenge to the LA

Personal Budget advice

Very few parents have heard of Personal Budgets. Some think this may have been raised with them in a meeting at some point but they had not understood what it was or how it could help them

Those who have heard of Personal Budgets often confuse them with Direct Pay and so think that requesting a Personal Budget means taking control of SEND finances

In many cases there is a misconception that Personal Budgets are only of interest for older children, as they move into adulthood and take charge of their own money

No parents who were having issues with placement decisions or support resources had asked to see their Personal Budgets as a way of understanding or contributing to those discussions

Parent/Carer support groups

Local groups and forums are a good source of emotional and advice support

Parents want to be told these groups exist, even if it is just online


 Practical Steps to Support Parents





Council for Disabled Children

CDC helps find who provides local Independent Support services


National Network of Parent Carer Forums

Cohesive good practice and effective participation with a solution focused approach at all levels, locally, regionally and nationally.


Contact A Family

National charity for families with disabled children