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Parent Partnership Services

The information for this fact sheet has been taken from the SEN Toolkit section 2 and is in conjunction with the SEN Code of Practice. It sets out the legal requirements relating to Parent Partnership services as set out in the Education Act 1996 and the Education (Special Educational Needs) (England) (Consolidation) Regulations 2001. It also sets out considerations that LEAs are encouraged to take into account when setting up and running their services. Although LEAs have statutory duties this information is not prescriptive, as needs in one area are not necessarily the same in another area, however it aims to strike a balance between settings out what is expected of effective services and providing the flexibility needed to deliver services that suit the circumstances in a particular area.

Section 332A, Education Act 1996

A local education authority must arrange for the parent of any child in their area with special educational needs to be provided with advice and information about matters relating to those needs.

Sections 332B (1) and (2), Education Act 1996

A local education authority must make arrangements with a view to avoiding or resolving disagreements between authorities (on the one hand) and parents of children in their area (on the other) about the way the LEAs and maintained schools carry out their responsibilities towards children with special educational needs.

A local education authority must also make arrangements with a view to avoiding or resolving disagreements between parents and certain schools about the special educational provision made for their child.

It is the legal duty of LEAs to have arrangements to provide information and advice to parents of children with SEN in their area. These are generally known as Parent Partnership. LEAs are expected to have sufficient staff and resources and meet minimum standards. It is up to individual LEAs to decide how to plan and deliver this service, for instance some will provide an entirely LEA based service, although this should be run at arms length, others may "buy-in" the service from another provider, or it could be a mixture of both. Which ever way, it is important that parents have confidence in the service, that it is flexible, accessible and it delivers neutral information and advice.

According to the SEN Code of Practice, in delivering effective parent partnership services LEAs are expected to:

" Take responsibility for setting and monitoring the overall standard of the service and ensure it is subject to Best Value principles
" Ensure adequate resources and staffing to meet the needs of the parents in their area
" Ensure that parents and schools are provided with clear information about the services, and about the various other sources of support in their area, including statutory and voluntary agencies
" Ensure that the service is provided with accurate information on all SEN processes as set out in the Education Act 1996, relevant Regulations, the SEN Code of Practice and relevant information about the Disability Discrimination Act 1995

Again from the SEN Code of Practice, an effective parent partnership service is expected to meet the following standards and ensure:

" The provision of a range of flexible services including using their best endeavours to provide access to an independent Parental Supporter for all parents who want one.

" That practical support is offered to parents, either individually or in groups, to help them in their discussions with schools, LEAs and other statutory agencies.

" That parents (including those with parental responsibility for the child) are provided with accurate neutral information on their rights, roles and responsibilities within the SEN process, and on the wide range of options that are available for their child's education

" Those parents are informed about other agencies, such as Health Services, Social Services and voluntary organisations, which can offer information and advice about their child's particular SEN. This may be particularly important at the time the LEA issues a proposed statement.

" That, where appropriate and in conjunction with their parents, the ascertainable views and wishes of the child are sought and taken into consideration.

The purpose of this service is to encourage parents, leas, schools and voluntary bodies to work together, the best results are always delivered when they can identify, assess and make provisions for the child with SEN together, and enable parents to be better informed and give them more confidence to communicate with the schools and LEA. The overall aim is for them to provide a service to parents enabling them to play a more active and informed role in their child's education.

Flexible services for parents can include:

" Advising parents during statutory assessments, annual reviews and other meetings. Giving support for the Tribunal process and hearings and providing information in the way of training courses.
" Providing information about other agencies and organisations that can provide advice and support on non-SEN matters like housing, health , social services and benefits
" For those that want it, provide an Independent Parental Supporter
" Work with school staff and governors to develop parent friendly policies and partnerships with parents
" Work with LEAs, voluntary sector and health and social services to promote understanding of the needs of the parents of children with SEN
" If moving into another LEAs area, liasing with the other parent partnership service to help the parents and child's transition
" Help in avoiding and resolving any disagreements between parents, schools and the LEA.

All parents of children with SEN must have access to advice and information about matters relating to SEN.

Independent Parental Supporters

Some parents may want or need more individual support at some time. The SEN code of practice sets out that parent partnership should ensure that those parents who want an Independent Parental Supporter (IPS) have access to one. The IPS can be another parent, someone from a voluntary organisation or support group or a volunteer who has previously acted as a named person.

The IPS should be independent of decision-making professionals, and have no conflict of interest.

The IPS can provide parents with advice in dealings with the schools, LEAs, and the SEN Tribunal, give support at meetings or reviews and help them to make their contribution to the assessment. Give help in understanding the implications of any objectives set out in the statement and provide a range of information on SEN, including different options available for their child's provision.

IPSs should be fully informed about local and national policies and procedures around SEN and feel confident to work with parents in a variety of different situations.

Parent partnership services need to ensure training for IPSs, and provide training where it is desirable. Support, supervision and continuing professional development should be given to the IPS, to ensure they are kept fully informed about policies and procedures. Monitoring and reviews of the service provided by the IPS should be done to ensure adequate standards are maintained.

The Role of Parents

Section 7, Education Act 1996

The parent of every child of compulsory school age must make sure that they receive efficient full-time education suitable -

a) To their age, ability and aptitude, and
b) To any special educational needs they may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

Parents have a vital role in their child's education and in working with schools they should:

" communicate regularly with school staff and alert them to any concerns they have about their child's learning or provision
" Fulfil their obligations under home-school agreements which set out the expectations of both sides.

As soon as parents feel their child has a SEN and may need different arrangements made for them, they should discuss the matter with the school; the school should listen and take any concerns into account when considering any intervention. Intervention could include School Action or School Action Plus, and parents can take an active role in implementing these, and also the planning and reviewing of their child's IEP.

If despite, the additional help through school Action etc. the parents still feel further help and support is needed they have the right to request that the LEA carry out a Statutory assessment. If in the case of the school requesting one, the parents should help by providing any information needed.

The Views of the Child

In working with parents, IPSs, teachers, governing bodies and other agencies, parent partnership should, as a matter of course, emphasise the importance of getting the child's views. They may also provide support to the child, for instance through arranging volunteer child supporters or running child-mentoring schemes. LEAs should consider requesting a police check of any persons that will have a lot of unsupervised contact with the child.

Working with Schools

When working with schools parent partnership should seek to:

" support school staff in the development of their awareness of parents needs
" encourage school staff to respect parents views
" liaise with governors and inform them of the services available
" encourage parental influence on the development of school management, policy and practise
" support schools in developing parent friendly policies and practises
" encourage schools to tell parents about the parent partnership services when they are informed their child has SEN
" Work with schools on joint initiatives, such as initiating school based support groups for parents, training etc.

Preventing Disagreements

LEAs also have a duty to make arrangements with a view to avoiding disputes between themselves, schools and parents. Parent partnership is likely to be a part of this. Helping the parents to feel more comfortable to talk to the schools, promoting good communications and sharing of information between the school, parents and LEAs about the child's SEN are very important. Early intervention to explain issues may prevent misunderstandings and enable the two sides to talk about it, if such intervention does not resolve a disagreement parent [partnership may suggest that they consider disagreement resolution (a separate Fact Sheet on this will soon be available).

Useful Links:

It's also worth noting that if you use google for a search for Parent Partnership, you will find a link to local area services.

by Trace from

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