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RIASS Redbridge
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Impartiality Policy

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

  • Providing CYP and parents with all the relevant information they need in order to make their own decisions – not giving their own opinions or telling people what to do.
  • Ensuring that information and advice is factual and based on current guidance and legislation.
  • Empowering CYP and parents to speak for themselves and make their own decisions.
  • Respecting the decisions made by CYP and parents without making a judgement.

What is Impartiality?

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.

Data Protection

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:

  • Secure electronic database that only RIASS team members have access to.
  • A dedicated phone line with voicemail for YP and parents/carers only accessed by RIASS staff.
  • A dedicated email facility that can only be accessed by RIASS staff.

Ensuring Impartiality

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:

  • Ensure that RIASS staff access relevant independent training.
  • Ensure that the RIASS logo is visible on all service leaflets and communication.
  • Continue to maintain relationships with relevant local voluntary groups, including the parent carer forum.
  • Refer parents to national organisations where relevant including the Contact Help-line, IPSEA (tribunal support service) and others.
  • Make clear that accomplishing best outcomes (education, social care and health) for CYP with SEND is the ultimate aim of the service and to support CYP and their families in achieving these.
  • Not allow relationships with the LA, schools, CCGs, statutory/voluntary services affect the information, advice and support RIASS provides to CYP and parent/carers.
  • Make clear that it will not take sides with the LA, CCGs, schools or other statutory/voluntary services – nor will it act on their behalf.

Ensuring Effectiveness of this Policy

To ensure our Impartiality Policy is effective RIASS will make sure that:

  • Parents are made aware of the policy at the first point of contact and the policy will be available online.
  • All RIASS staff receives a copy of the policy and it is explained to them as part of their induction.
  • The policy is shared with all relevant external agencies, including the LA, schools and the voluntary sector.
  • The policy is reviewed annually by the Steering Group and amendments agreed.

The terms of this policy may change. This statement was last reviwed July 2020 and is due for review Aug 2021