Accessibility Statement
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The Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice require all local authorities to offer an information, advice, and support service from birth to 25 years for parents, carers, and young people with SEND.  This support should empower families to express their views and wishes and help you and your child to understand and exercise their rights.

The SEND Information, Advice and Support Service (known as SENDIASS) in Portsmouth is run by Barnardo’s and is available to:

  • Parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities aged 0 to 25 years
  • Young people aged 16 to 25 years who have special educational needs and/or disabilities

We provide impartial, confidential, and free support and advice to parents, carers and young people living in the PO1 to PO6 postcode areas. Our team of Advisors can offer a listening ear, and support you to access to resources, information, and events, and help you navigate the local offer. 

The short video below explains more about SENDIASS and the support we can offer:

Introduction to the Information Advice and Support Service (

Information, advice, and support is available through:

  • Our direct telephone line
  • Our website
  • Email
  • Face-to-face

To make a request for support, complete our short enquiry form:  Add link

We offer support with:

  • Education, health, and social care matters
  • Understanding the options available to you and your child
  • Funding arrangements
  • Annual reviews and relevant law
  • SEND education and the law
  • Information and support about EHC (Education, Health, and Care) Plans and assessments
  • Representations at tribunals
  • Exclusions from school
  • Support at and to prepare for meetings
  • Help to understand and complete paperwork
  • Signposting and support from other services
  • Advocacy support for young people and parents

We also offer advice on:

  • Your rights and responsibilities as a parent or carer
  • Your rights and entitlements as a young person
  • Who to talk to in school or college about your concerns
  • How your child is assessed and supported in school
  • What happens before, during and after an assessment for an Education, Health, and Care (EHC) Plan

What does our support look like?

We will deliver a tiered approach: 

Tier 1: Self-service, signposting to information and resources  on the website and fact sheets

Tier 2: Low-level case work, group work and workshops: 

Tier 3: Casework and representation 

Please see below the criteria for casework

Useful information


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 Barnardos 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.


Where else can I get help?



Local offer: Home < Portsmouth Local Offer

The majority of our referrals are received from parents or carers directly. However if you would like to make a professional referral please contact us, ensuring you have consent to share information with us, please contact us by:

completing this Enquiry form.

or email 

or call 0239 323 3656

If you would like some impartial advice in relation to a family you are working with you can also email an enquiry to us, or call the service. If we are unable to take the call, we operate a callback service and will aim to respond to your enquiry as soon as possible. 

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