Cheshire East’s Information Advice and Support team is committed to providing an impartial, neutral and accurate information service to all users to enable them to make informed choices.
Parents and carers have a right to expect that the information that they receive from Cheshire East’s Information Advice and Support (CEIAS) team:
- will be non-judgemental in terms of the views, behaviour or policy of any party
- will not have a vested interest in the outcome of any discussion.
Practical arrangements to ensure impartiality
To ensure impartiality the following things are in place with regard to Cheshire East’s Information Advice and Support team:
- It is an in-house team which has a discrete, ring fenced budget. It has an independent recording system.
- There is a steering group which reflects the views and interests of range of stakeholders
- Advisors in the team are trained to be aware of their own views so that they offer impartial training and support. This includes developing an understanding that impartiality can be in the words used and also in body language and references to others.
- Questionnaires are used to obtain feedback from service users regarding its impartiality.
- Leaflets and publicity materials are reviewed annually to ensure that they are neutral, accurate and up to date.
- The team does not act as an advocate for service users but provides information to them about their rights of appeal, when and how to appeal and to whom to complain to
- As part of the arrangements for ensuring impartiality and independence from the Local Authority the Manager, tasked to lead the team, is a Manager who does not have responsibility for the Local Authority SEND Team or for any the services which are likely to be specified as provision in Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans.
- Regular supervision meetings between the Manager and Information Advice and Support Officers allow issues of concern to parents and carers to be raised. However, all information is kept strictly confidential and no names are disclosed unless parents have asked specifically for their named case to be raised.
- The team avoid over-identification between a parent’s situation or dilemmas and their own personal experience.
- The team does not prioritise any impairment, disability or SEN over another.
- Team members empower children, young people or their parent carers to speak for themselves and make their own decisions, rather than pushing them towards a particular course of action
- The central office is located in a Local Authority building but not with the SEND Team. We use working practices to ensure that our work is not seen or overheard by other departments.
- We will use drop-in surgery facilities around the borough to provide independent access for service users.
Sometimes there may be disagreements between parents, carers or young people and schools or other agencies. The team’s role is to facilitate direct communication between the parties, so that there is mutual understanding and so agreement can be reached regarding the way forward.
Where direct communication is proving difficult, Cheshire East’s Information Advice and Support team may:
- act as an intermediary, at the request of parents, carers or young people by relaying their perspective to schools, other agencies or the local authority. This doesn’t mean that they are bias in favour of the parent, nor does it mean that they shared the views expressed.
- agree to relay information and to communicate options to parents, carers or young people. This doesn’t mean the team are in favour of the schools, agencies or the local authority, and it does not mean that they endorse the information or options being shared
Cheshire East’s Information Advice and Support will act professionally at all times, communicating diplomatically and effectively, whilst discussing the situation and exploring any alternative options in an unbiased and impartial manner.
Parents, carers or young people are informed about their options for making appeals where they are dissatisfied with the decisions or actions of the Local Authority or other relevant agencies. The team will support, where requested, in making appeals regardless of implications for the Local Authority. Referrals to formal Disagreement resolution services are also supported by the team.
The team seek to resolve any conflict between the views of the school, the Local Authority or the parent, rather than to promote any of them.
As well as giving support to parents, carers and young people the team will also offer constructive challenge to perceptions of some events or to expectations; they will maintain a well-informed reality frame from which to inform parents’ choice and planning.
Conflict of interest
Team members would not, unless unavoidable, work with a parent in circumstances where there could be a potential conflict of interest. If this situation is unavoidable (e.g. no other staff member being available), then the parent is made aware and given alternative options.
- The Impartiality Policy will be monitored and reviewed annually by the steering group.
- Our policies are published on our website and will be kept up to date
Date of Policy: December 2017
Date of Policy Renewal: December 2018
K P Porter CEIAS Manager