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SENDIASS stands for Special Education and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service.

Each council has its own SENDIASS and we call ours Hartlepool SEND Information, Advice and Support Service or Hartlepool SENDIASS. Our service operates at arm’s length from the Local Authority which means: we have a group who oversee how we work; a separate budget; and we work separately to the local authority special educational needs team. Hartlepool SENDIASS offers free, impartial and confidential advice to parents, carers and young people, and we can also support SEN Practitioners.

For further information, check out the information leaflets on the site for parents, carers and young people.

We offer an impartial and confidential service. This means we do not share information about you and do not speak to school or the local authority without your consent, unless we feel that you or someone else is in danger. We may alert the appropriate service in order to keep people safe.

For further information please see our confidentiality, impartiality and privacy policies on the website.

The Children and Families Act (2014) paragraph 20 states that:

“A child or young person has special educational needs if he or she has a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her.

A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she:

  • Has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age or
  • Has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions

A child under compulsory school age has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she is likely to be within subsection (2) when of compulsory school age (or would be likely, if no special educational provision were made).

A child or young person does not have a learning difficulty or disability solely because the language (or form of language) in which he or she is or will be taught is different from a language (or form of language) which is or has been spoken at home”.

When your child is identified as having a special educational need, the setting or school should provide extra help in the classroom and make any reasonable adjustments necessary to meet your child’s needs. The setting or school should use a graduated approach based on a four part cycle of Assess, Plan, Do and Review. This will help the school to put in the right support and review progress.

If your child is not making expected progress, the school can seek advice and support from the Local Authority SEN Team.

Keeping in touch with the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) will help you understand what the school is doing to support your child.

If your child is at school then you speak to a member of staff, for example the class teacher or Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO). If your child is not of school age, then it’s a good idea to speak with you GP and/or Health Visitor, so they can advise you of the next steps to take.

An Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment - sometimes called a statutory assessment is when the local authority gathers information and advice from: you, your child’s school, nursery or college; education psychologist; health practitioners, social services; and anyone else involved with your child. The purpose is to find out what extra support your child needs and whether they need an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). An EHC needs assessment may be needed if school, nursery or college cannot provide all the help your child needs from within the resources available to them.

You can speak to your child’s school or nursery about whether a statutory assessment would be helpful. The school, nursery or college can ask the Local Authority to carry out an EHC needs assessment, but you (and your child if they are aged 16 and over compulsory school age) can make the request. The local authority has six weeks to decide whether to carry out an assessment. The Local Authority will consider very carefully the child’s progress, the support already in place and how that is helping. If the school, nursery or college are making the request they are required to complete a form to evidence what support is already in place and the reasons why they think an assessment of need is required. If the parent or young person is making the request, you would do so in writing giving the reasons why and any evidence to support you request, this is a two part test and model template letters are available to help you on Hartlepool SENDIASS website.

There is a statutory time period for completing an Education, Health and Care needs assessment and producing an Education, Health and Care Plan (if appropriate). From the initial request to making a decision about whether to issue an EHC plan takes 16 weeks, if a plan is going to be issued this should be finalised within the 20 week timeframe.

You will be informed in writing of the Local Authority decision and when you have the right to appeal. As a first step you should contact your SEN Team to discuss the way forward. You can also contact Hartlepool SENDIASS at any time to ask for support if you are not happy with the decision made.

An Education, Health and Care Plan is a legal document that outlines all the child’s special educational needs and the objectives and provision to meet those needs. Schools and other providers will have a copy of the EHCP and will use it to inform their provision for your child/young person.

The EHC plan must be reviewed yearly. The statutory Annual Review is a formal meeting to discuss the provision and outcomes laid out in the EHC plan and how effective this has been.

This is a formal meetings, so there should be at least you and a member of staff from school, usually the SENCO. The school may invite other practitioners who are working with your child and you can also make a request for someone you would like to be invited. You should be told who is going to attend and you can take someone with you to support you. If you are worried about going or not happy with the way things are working then you can contact Hartlepool SENDIASS to ask for advice and ask if someone from the service can attend (this may be possible with advanced notice and is dependent on availability).

Before the Annual Review you will be asked for your views (Section A). All information, including any updated reports must be circulated 2 weeks before the Annual Review Meeting.

The school then have 2 weeks to send the paperwork for the Review meeting to SEN Case Officer. They then have a further 2 weeks (4 weeks from the meeting) to decide if they will amend the EHC plan, leave it as it is or cease to maintain.