Redbridge Information, Advice and Support Service (RIASS) is an in-house, statutory service that is funded by the London Borough of Redbridge. The service provides confidential and impartial information, advice and support for young people (YP) and parents/carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
RIASS aims to enable children, young people (CYP) and parents and carers to make informed decisions and become more effective in advocating for all aspects of their or their children’s lives, including the areas of education, health and social care.
Chapter 2 of the SEND Code of Practice makes it very clear that:
“Local authorities must arrange for children with SEN or disabilities for whom they are responsible, and their parents, and young people for whom they are responsible, to be provided with impartial information and advice about matters relating to their SEN or disabilities, including matters relating to health and social care.”
RIASS staff and volunteers remain impartial by
Not biased towards or influenced by any particular party, point of view or policy, including the local authority (LA), schools, education ideologies, and campaigns. Not giving priority to any particular impairment, disability or SEN over another; and accurately reflects the law.
What is RIASS relationship with the Local Authority and other professionals and how does it fulfil the “arms-length” requirements?
The SEND Code of Practice states that an information, advice and support service (IASS) should be impartial and provided at “arm’s length” from the LA and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). Redbridge’s information, advice and support service (RIASS) has its own office space at Ray Lodge, an LA building but not where the SEN team are based. There are some private meeting rooms available within the building where RIASS is located as well as opportunities to access meetings rooms in a wide variety of neutral venues throughout the borough. The service is managed by the RIASS Co-ordinator.
It is made clear to officers of the LA, CCGs and voluntary organisations that RIASS staff provide independent advice and information to YP and parents/carers about their rights and responsibilities based on national legislation and guidance. The LA, CCG and voluntary organisations do not influence or edit the information given by RIASS to CYP and parents/carers.
LA, CCGs and other professionals do not cc RIASS in when communicating with parent/carers or YP unless they are responding to parent or YP and are “replying to all”.
LA, CCGs and other professionals do not refer to RIASS staff as their “colleagues” or similar terminology when communicating with parent/carers or YP and vice versa.
The RIASS office is based in a separate building to the SEN dept and CCG services. The service has implemented the following measures to ensure that information received remains confidential:
RIASS is overseen by a Steering Group, which is chaired by a parent and has representation from YP, users of the service, Empowering Parents Together (EPT) the parent carer forum, professionals from; the LA, a mainstream school, a special school, social care and the voluntary sector.
In addition to this RIASS will also:
To ensure our Impartiality Policy is effective RIASS will make sure that:
The terms of this policy may change. This statement was last reviwed July 2020 and is due for review Aug 2021