We have a group of trained volunteer Independent Advice Supporters (IAS) who are able to support parents who have children with special educational needs.

Our volunteers may be able to attend meetings with you or help you to put your views in writing.

How can IAS volunteers help parents?

IAS volunteers may be able to help in a variety of ways:

  • By listening to what you have to say
  • Helping you think about options and talk through decisions
  •  Helping you to understand the timetable for an EHC Needs Assessment
  • Helping you to write letters or reports, for example for your child’s annual review, or as part of the EHC Needs Assessment process
  • Finding out information on your behalf, with your permission
  • Helping you to prepare for school meetings and attending meetings with you
  • Going on school visits with you, to help you identify a suitable school for your child
  •  Taking notes in meetings so you can concentrate on what is being said and on putting your point across
  • At all times,our IAS volunteers can refer to SEND IASS staff for advice and support.

Who are IAS volunteers?

IAS volunteers may be parents themselves, or they may have experience of working in schools, or they may just be interested individuals who have an empathy with parents of children with special educational needs.

They should possess the following skills and personal attributes:

  • Willingness to listen and an empathy with parents
  • An understanding of the types of issues parents face
  • A working knowledge of special educational needs
  • Good writing skills

What IAS volunteers will not do

IAS volunteers will not make professional judgements about you or your child, or make decisions for you.

Our IAS’s are there to support you and they will not work directly with professionals. They will only communicate with professionals with your permission.

The IAS’s role is to assist you with specific issues concerning your child’s special educational needs. They are not able to get involved in other ways with your family, though they can refer to the SEND IASS staff to help you to locate other sources of support.

How can I get an IAS?

Contact us on 01983 825548 and ask about being put in touch with an IAS Volunteer.

It is helpful to have at least a week’s notice if you would like a volunteer to support you at a meeting. We will try to locate a suitable IAS for you and will let you know when we have done this. We will then arrange with you for the IAS to contact you to have a chat or meet up for an initial meeting.

Unfortunately we only have a small number of volunteers and it may not always be possible for us to match you up with an IAS, but we will do our best and in the event this is not possible we will discuss alternatives with you.