Skip to Content

Business as usual – with a few changes to service delivery - please see our new Social Isolation Resources section. Helpline open as normal.

03000 41 3000

Telephone Helpline open Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a SENDIASS and what does it do?

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

Each council has its own SENDIASS and we call ours Information, Advice and Support Kent or IASK.  Our service operates at arm’s length from the Local Authority which means we have: a steering management group who oversee how we work; a separate budget; and we work out of a building separate to the local authority special educational needs teams. IASK offers free, impartial and confidential advice to parents, carers and young people, and we can also support SEN Practitioners.  For further information, please view our 'About Us' page on this website under the 'About' tab.

Is the service confidential?

We offer an impartial and confidential service. This means we do not share information about you and do not speak to schools 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 under the 'About' tab on this website.

What is a Special Educational Need?

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 the 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”.

What happens when my child is identified as having special educational needs?

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 outside professionals through the Local Inclusion Forum Team (known as LIFT).  

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

See our leaflet about SEN Support

I have concerns about a child / my child’s progress – what do I do?

If your child is at school then you should 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 your GP and/or Health Visitor so they can advise you of the next steps to take.

What is an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment ?

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 the 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 age 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.  

You will be asked for your views by completing an Appendix 1 (pre 16) or an Appendix 1A (post 16). These are yours and your child’s views and wishes, so that everyone involved knows what you really need and want from the support available to you. There are lots of different questions and you should make sure you fill in the form for the right age group. Always try to answer the questions as best you can because the information you provide will help others to understand the help you might need.  

How long does it take to make a decision?

There is a statutory time period for completing an Education, Health and Care needs assessment and producing an Education Health 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.

See our leaflet about Needs Assessments

Who makes the decision?

The SEN department at the Local Authority will make the decision. In Kent there are 4 SEN Departments:

North Kent – Dartford, Gravesham and Sevenoaks
Joynes House, New Road, Gravesend, DA11 0AT
Tel: 03000 419345

South Kent -Ashford, Folkestone & Hythe and Dover
Kroner House, Eurogate Business Park, Ashford TN24 8XU
Tel: 03000 420889

East Kent – Canterbury, Thanet and Swale
Brook House, Reeves Way, Whitstable CT5 3SS
Tel: 03000 421160

West Kent – Maidstone, Tonbridge and Malling and Tunbridge Wells
Worrall House, 30 Kings Hill Avenue, West Malling
Tel: 03000 420997

What can I do if I disagree with a decision?

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 contact IASK at any time to ask for support if you are not happy with the decisions made.

What is an Education, Health and Care plan (EHC plan)?

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.

See our leaflet about EHC Plans

Can changes be made to an EHC plan once it is in place?

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.

What happens at an Annual Review?

This is a formal meeting so there should be at least you and a member of staff from the 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 IASK  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 of the paperwork from the Annual Review meeting to the SEND 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 it.

See our leaflet about Annual Reviews