Accessibility Statement
Text size:
Back to Portsmouth SENDIASS

Parents & Carers


Are you looking for information, advice or support about matters relating to your child’s special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND)? SENDIASS offers support to parents and carers of children and young people with SEND (0-25) in Portsmouth City. We can also support your child or young person to access the service independently.

We are funded by Portsmouth City Council but the service is managed independently by Barnardos. We provide free, confidential and impartial support, which means we do not take sides and we try to ensure that everyone’s views are expressed and heard. 

The Portsmouth SENDIASS site has a wide variety of information and advice available across a range of SENDIASS topics. Below you will find also find links to helpful resources.

If you are unable to find what you’re looking for, please contact us by:

Complete the Enquiry form

To make an enquiry you can contact us by telephone on 0239 323 3656

or you can email:


What is an information advice and support service

More information

Our team are trained SENDIASS Advisors can:

  • signpost and provide impartial information and advice which enables parents/carers and their children to make informed decisions
  • help to explain the content of reports/letters/draft EHCP
  • make telephone calls on parents’ behalf and support them with writing letters
  • support parents to arrange meetings with schools and other professionals and attend the meetings with parents if required
  • accompany parents/carers on visits to alternative educational settings if required
  • liaise with schools, the local authority and other agencies to promote positive relationships with parents, carers and young people
  • equip parents, carers, children and young people with the skills and confidence to work with professionals and have their voice heard
  • signposting parents, carers, children and young people to other sources of support.


Under the Children and Families Act 2014 and SEND Code of Practice 2015 Local authorities must arrange for children and young people with SEN or disabilities for whom they are responsible, and their parents / carers, to be provided with information and advice about matters relating to their SEN or disabilities, including matters relating to health and social care.

In Portsmouth this service is delivered by Barnardo's SENDIASS. Our contract with the Local Authority is informed by the National IASSN minimum standards. Within this contract it states that ‘Service Users will be supported to acquire the skills and knowledge to be able to effectively access services and navigate the SEND system’ and that ‘The Service will develop the resilience and independence of families and local services to enable children and young people with more complex needs to participate actively in their local community.’

There are a number of key service requirements including the provision of Impartial information, advice and support (IAS) on the full range of education, health and social care as defined in the SEND Code of Practice. The Service shall have the capacity to provide advice and support to Service User enquiries through individual face-to-face, telephone and electronic processes and through group sessions and workshops. Support may include: Individual casework/ representation, for those assessed and who meet the criteria.

We are primarily an information and advice service, and our aim is to empower parents, carers, children and young people by providing them with the right information and advice to make informed decisions and take the next steps independently.  As such the vast majority of enquiries will be resolved through a one off contact, either over the telephone or via email. Where appropriate we will follow this up by sending out information, group workshops and signposting/referral to relevant services. Service users can contact us in this way as many times as they need. A small percentage of enquiries will require some more intensive ongoing support – individual casework/representation – due to specific needs and vulnerabilities. The criteria for this element of the service informed by national guidance for IAS services.

Criteria for additional casework support

In order to be added to the waiting list for individual casework the enquiry must constitute a level 3 or 4 case. The criteria for this is as follows:

  1. There are multiple or complex issues to be addressed including:
  • Exclusions (permanent, unlawful or repeated),
  • SEND Tribunals or Disability Discrimination,
  • Child over 5 not in full time education (child out of school, part time timetables)
  • Ongoing formal complaints including ombudsman
  • School refusal (SEMH)
  1. Or parent has additional needs which significantly affect their ability to manage the situation independently even with advice from the service, such as:
  • Learning difficulty
  • Ongoing mental health issues
  • Communication needs which cannot be supported by short term interventions
  1. Or service user is a child or young person aged 0-25 with special educational needs or disability who has approached the service directly, and requires support to take part in processes and help to express their views and wishes.

 Please note - We do not routinely attend meetings or reviews unless one or more of the above criteria applies.

What if my enquiry does not meet the criteria for individual casework?

If your enquiry does not meet the criteria for individual casework rest assured that the same workers will be offering you information and advice through our duty helpline call back system. All workers undertake the IPSEA legal training, so there is no difference in the quality of advice that you receive. You can choose whether to receive this support via telephone or email, and you may also wish to attend one of our group workshops on topics such as EHCP or SEMH.  You are welcome to call back through duty as many times as needed for information on your next steps or any new queries arising, and each time you will be offered tailored individual advice from a qualified worker. We feel strongly that this is the most efficient and responsive way to meet the needs of service users. If at any point a worker identifies that you meet the above criteria for individual casework they will discuss this with you and let you know of the current waiting times for this service.

We recognise that for some cases ‘a little extra’ will be needed to resolve the issue and it may not always be possible to give the best advice in one phone call. For example a worker might need to find out some more information from the school or SEN team for you, or you might need some help filling out a form or reading over a draft and making some changes. For this reason we have a ‘duty plus’ system whereby workers will carry out one off tasks such as making a phone call on your behalf, or booking a slot for you to  go over some paperwork. This will be assessed by workers on a case-by-case basis and will help us to provide a more responsive service whilst bridging the gap between telephone advice and individual casework.

If you are unable to find what you’re looking for, please contact us by:

Complete the Enquiry form

To make an enquiry you can contact us by telephone on 0239 323 3656

or you can email:

Where else can I get help?



Local offer: Home < Portsmouth Local Offer

Useful contacts: XXXXX

We provide a range of regular parent workshops on EHCP and SEN Support, in addition to one off topics. Groups are kept small with a maximum of 8-10 participants for your comfort and to ensure you get the most out of the session. All workshops include a question and answer session with a caseworker which allows you to ask questions specific to your situation.

You will be able to look and book workshops from here: xxxx

For more information please call the service on 0239 323 3656
or email:


You can download a copy of this information and some more resources relating to EHCPS here:

EHCP Summary information sheet

Timeline for requesting an EHCP 

Useful contact during the EHCP 

What is an Education Health and Care Plan?

An Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) describes your child’s special educational needs (SEN) and the help they will get to meet them. An EHCP also includes any health and care provision that is needed. It is a legal document written by the local authority and is intended to ensure that children and young people with an EHCP receive the support they need.

EHCPs replaced Statements of Special Educational Need and Section 139 Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDA) on 1 September 2014.

EHCPs are for children and young people who need more support than their school or other setting can provide. The plans can start from a child’s birth and continue into further education and training (from 0 to 25).

EHC needs assessment timeline can be found here: EHC needs assessment timeline < Portsmouth Local Offer

Who needs an EHC Plan?

EHCPs are for children and young people who have a special educational need or disability that cannot be met by the support that is available at their school or college.

Most children and young people with special educational needs will have help given to them without the need for an EHCP. This is called SEN support.

The purpose of SEN support is to help children achieve the outcomes or learning objectives that have been set for them. Some children and young people may not make the progress expected of them even with this help. When this happens the Local Authority carry out an EHC needs assessment. A few children and young people have such significant difficulties/needs that an EHC needs assessment should not be delayed.


What should an EHCP be about?

The SEND Code of Practice says that EHCPs should:

  • Be based on decisions made openly, and with parents, children and young people
  • Describe what the child or young person can do
  • Be clear, concise, understandable and accessible
  • Consider how best to achieve the outcomes for the child or young person. They must take into account the evidence from the EHC needs assessment
  • Specify clear outcomes
  • Consider alternative ways of providing support if a parent or young person wishes it. This could include having a Personal Budget
  • Show how education, health and care provision will be co-ordinated
  • Be forward looking – for example, anticipating, planning and commissioning for important transition points in a child or young person’s life
  • Describe how informal support as well as formal support from statutory agencies can help in achieving agreed outcomes
  • Have a review date.


There is a full list of principles and requirements in the SEND Code of Practice section 9.61.


What is included in an EHCP? 

Every EHCP must include at least 12 sections, but each local authority can decide how to set these out.

The sections are:

A: The views, interests and aspirations of you and your child or the young person.

B: Your child’s or young person’s special educational needs.

C: Health needs related to their SEN or to a disability.

D: Social care needs related to their SEN or to a disability.

E: Planned outcomes for your child or the young person.

F: Special educational provision. Provision must be specified for each and every need shown in section B.

G: Any health provision required that is related to their SEN or to a disability.

H1: Any social care provision that must be made for your child or young person under 18.

H2: Any other social care provision required that is related to their SEN or to a disability.

I: The name and type of the school, maintained nursery school, post-16 institution or other institution to be attended.

J: Details of how any personal budget will support particular outcomes and the provision it will be used for.

K: The advice and information gathered during the EHC needs assessment


Where the child or young person is in or beyond year 9, the EHCP must also include the provision required by your child or young person to help prepare for adulthood and independent living.

You can read the full list of what must be included in each

Section in the SEND Code of Practice sections 9.62 and 9.63.


Can I request a particular school?

The law says that parents or the young person has a right to request that a particular school, college or other institution is named in the EHCP. The Local Authority must agree to this request unless:

  • It would be unsuitable for the age, ability, aptitude or SEN of the child or young person, or
  • The attendance of the child or young person there would be incompatible with the efficient education of others, or the efficient use of resources

You can find out more about your rights to request a particular school or college in the SEND Code of Practice sections 9.78 to 9.90.

Appealing the school named in your EHCP


How will I be involved?

The SEND Code of Practice says:

Local authorities must consult the child and the child’s parent or the young person throughout the process of assessment and production of an EHCP.” (9.21)


Reviews must be undertaken in partnership with the child and their parent or the young person, and must take account of their views, wishes and feelings, including their right to request a Personal Budget.” (9.168)

Your views, and your child’s views, are really important. The local authority, school or college should help you take part and involve you in decision making. If you would like help to do this please contact Portsmouth SENDIASS for impartial information, advice and support. We can also give you information on other sources of help, and on what to do if you do not feel that you have been heard or listened to.


Will there be a review of the EHCP?

The local authority must review the EHCP at least once every 12 months. This must be done in partnership with you and your child or the young person, and must take account of your views, wishes and feelings.

The local authority must decide whether to keep the plan as it is, make changes, or cease to maintain it within four weeks of the review meeting. You have a right of appeal if the local au­thority proposes to cease the EHCP.

For some young people an EHCP will continue until they are 25. However the plan will stop if the young person:

  • Goes to university
  • Gets a job
  • Tells their local authority they no longer want their EHCP, or,
  • No longer needs special help and the local authority decides that the EHCP should cease.

You can find out more about reviews of EHCPs at:


What can I do if I am not happy about the EHCP?

The first step is to contact the school, college or local authority to discuss your concerns.

Portsmouth SENDIASS can give you impartial advice and support and explain your options. This may include independent disagreement resolution, mediation or going to appeal.


What happens if I move to another local authority area? 

If you plan to move to another local authority area you should contact the ‘old’ and the ’new’ local authorities so the support specified in the EHCP will be in place. The ‘new’ authority will amend the plan and name the new school or college.

The ‘old’ local authority must transfer the EHCP on the day of the move, as long as it has had 15 working days’ notice.

Where can I get more information, advice or support?

You can find out more about SEN Support by:

  • looking at the SEN policy on the school website
  • talking to your child’s teacher or the Special Educational Needs Coordinator
  • looking at the Local Offer Home < Portsmouth Local Offer
  • reading Chapter 6 of the SEND Code of Practice


How do I request an EHC needs assessment?

You or your child’s school can ask the local authority to make an EHC needs assessment. When this assessment is finished the local authority must decide whether to issue an EHCP.


Useful information fact sheets:

Annual review fact sheet

Parent guide to writing a parental contribution

Appealing a refusal to assess information fact sheet

Appealing a refusal to issue decision

Disagreement resolution and meditation information sheet

The Portsmouth SEND Local Offer details the information, support and services that Portsmouth City Council expects to be available in our local area for children and young people aged 0-25 with special educational needs and or a disability (SEND).

Please access the Local offer here: Home < Portsmouth Local Offer

Family hubs are a ‘one stop shop’ within your community – providing information, signposting and a variety of free services, activities and support for families with children up to 25 years, in one place.

In Portsmouth, we have five family hubs in Buckland, Milton, Northern Parade, Somerstown and Paulsgrove.

Each hub has a family hub champion who can offer advice and signpost to further support.

Please click this link for more information: Portsmouth family hubs - Portsmouth City Council

Choosing a School

Choosing a setting for a child is an important decision to ensure that they get the best out of their education, and one that many parents find difficult. When choosing a school, there are a number of things to think about which may or may not have an impact on its suitability for your child. The best way to determine their suitability is by finding out as much information as possible about the school and making your own judgement about it.

One parent's idea of what makes a school ideal, can be very different to another parent. It's a bit like buying a house, you wouldn't buy one because someone said you should, without having a look first! The things you might not be able to see, might come out in a Surveyor's report (or in this case, maybe an Ofsted report, SEN Information report, exam results tables, or transport details etc) - it's all about what is important to you and your child.

Within these pages you can find a few things to think about when deciding on your preferences. And remember, there is no set timetable for when to start thinking about it - the earlier the better!

Visiting a new school
Some questions that parents and carers of children with Autism (ASD) may want to ask:

You know your child better than anyone and you will know what is relevant to their needs. The importance of the following areas will largely depend on the particular nature of your child's difficulties. You may not need to ask every question.

Information the school needs from you
(Make a note of these details prior to your visit)

  1. Details about your child's needs – for example:
    • Does he/she have an Education Health Care Plan?
    • The support your child needs in school.
    • The nursery setting he/she has attended.
  2. The names and contact details of the professionals who work with your child.
  3. The support your child may need at lunchtimes, break-times and school visits/trips.
  4. Your child's medical needs - including any medication he/she takes.
Information you may need from the school
  1. In primary school, what size are the classes and how are they organised? For example, are there any mixed year groups
  2. Do the classrooms have their own toilet areas?
  3. What are the school hours, including lunchtimes and breaks?
  4. What are the support arrangements for children at break and lunchtimes? Where do the children eat? Do children who have packed lunches eat in the same place as children who have school dinners?
  5. How many school staff are available to support children in class? What is the adult to pupil ratio?
  6. Can you see a timetable on display in the classroom? Could a visual timetable be made available?
  7. What are the noise levels like inside as well as outside the classroom? Look out for movement around the school and consider playtimes.
  8. Are there clear boundaries in the playground, for example fences and secure barriers?
  9. Where do the children do PE and where do they change?
  10. Are there other children in the school with similar needs to your child?
  11. If your child needs 1:1 work, where will this take place?
  12. Does the school have a system for a child to:
    • rest
    • calm down
    • have a 'safe space' as part of their behaviour management?
  13. How does the school deal with bullying
  14. How can parents get copies of the school's policies, including its anti-bullying and SEN policies?
  15. What is the staff's experience in understanding your child's needs? Do any of the staff have specialist training in ASD?
  16. Can parents have a copy of the school's prospectus?
  17. How does the school keep parents informed about your child's progress and other matters? For example, home to school diary?
  18. How do you arrange meetings with the class teacher, the Special Educational Needs Coordinator or the Headteacher?
During your Visit make a mental note of the following:
  • Is the school welcoming?
  • Do the pupils and staff seem happy – what are the relationships between staff and pupils and pupil to pupil like?
  • Are you encouraged to see the whole school?
  • Look at the displays and notice boards – are they attractive, do they reflect the ability of all pupils?
  • On a visit to the classroom – how is it organised?
  • Is there sufficient access to all buildings/classrooms to meet your child's needs?

How can I get help?

We provide support and information to parents and carers of children with behaviour difficulties, as well as those who are at risk of, or have been excluded from school.

It is always our aim to encourage partnership working and develop positive communication between parents and school.

We prefer, wherever possible, to become involved as soon as problems are identified. We will listen and give parents time to share their concerns.

What do you do?

We encourage parents to arrange a meeting at school to look at positive ways forward.

We may be able to support parents at this meeting or give support by telephone.

We can also arrange an office visit where we can meet with you and gather more information about your concerns and your understanding of what strategies have been used.

You can find further details here:


Some children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities may require help to get to the school that is right for them. This may be because the school is too far away or because they are not able to get to the school safely by themselves.

Under the terms of the 1996 Education Act, the council is required to provide assistance with travel to what the act terms 'eligible children'.

In relation to special educational needs and disability, the Act defines an eligible child as one of statutory school age (between five and 16) who has a special educational need or disability which means that they cannot reasonably be expected to walk to school because of their mobility problems or because of associated health and safety issues related to their special educational needs (SEN) or disability. However, in Sandwell, we will provide assistance with transport to children with SEND from the start of their Reception year in school.

The Education Act 1996 specifies that Local Authorities have a duty to make necessary arrangements for ‘eligible children’.

There are four categories of eligible children:

  • Children who attend schools beyond the statutory walking distance
  • Children with SEN, disabilities or mobility problems
  • Children whose route to school is unsafe
  • Children from low income families

In all cases an eligible child must be of statutory school age, there is not duty to provide transport for children under school age.

Statutory walking distance is classed as 2 miles for children under 8 years of age and 3 miles for children over the age of 8. However, the legislation requires the Local Authority to arrange free school transport for some groups of children who attend schools within statutory walking distances including those with SEN, disability and mobility needs which mean that they cannot be expected to walk to school and no suitable arrangements have been made by the Local Authority to enable them to attend a nearer school.

Some useful links on transport can be found at the local offer here: Travel < Portsmouth Local Offer

Independent Travel Training: Independent Travel Training < Portsmouth Local Offer

Would you be interested in being part of a new parent steering group?

We run a termly parent steering group made up of current and previous service users. If you are a parent of a child or young person with SEND who has an interest in helping us to monitor, develop and improve our service we would love to hear from you. Your views and experiences are key to ensuring that we are meeting the needs of parents, carers, children and young people. For more information please email


We support parents with a variety of needs including those with English as a second language and those with limited English. 

We have a diverse work force within Barnardo's to support families to understand the information, we also use interpreters if needed.

To make an enquiry you can contact us by

Complete the Enquiry form

by telephone on 0239 323 3656

or you can email:

Some of our information sheets are available in a variety of languages including Czech, Slovak and Polish. 

To be uploaded below.

Last updated: