Information, Advice and Support Service (formerly Parent Partnership)

What is the Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS)?

  • It is a service which supports parents/carers of children who have or may have special educational needs.
  • It is a service which supports young people who have or may have special educational needs. 
  • We can provide you with information and support on a one-to-one basis.
  • It is a service which recognises the importance of parents, carers, young people and children's views.
  • It is a service which helps the Local Authority and parent/carers and schools work together to meet the needs of children and young people.
  • This is a free impartial service.

What can the service offer you?

  • Someone impartial to talk to in confidence
  • Information about support groups and services in your area
  • The Local Offer
  • Personal Budgets
  • A straight forward explanation of educational procedures
  • Information on special educational needs and disability, health and social care
  • Help to fill in forms
  • Someone to help you put forward your views
  • Someone to attend meetings with you

The service runs an advice line where you will receive advice relating to special educational needs. Information sheets are available on a wide range of subjects including education, health and care plans. There is also a termly newsletter with lots of information for parents/carers, schools and support organisations.

More information 

Local Offer and the One Plan

A booklet has been produced for parents of disabled children and children with special educational needs, along with information on the One Plan process and an example of our Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC). Both documents can be viewed on the People's Information Point website [external link]

The SEN Process

We understand that not everyone feels the need to speak to us directly, and would prefer to find out as much as they can themselves about SEN and what it might mean for you or your child/family. The following advice and guidance notes may help.

Statutory EHC Needs Assessment

In a small number of cases, the local authority may carry out a statutory EHC Needs Assessment. You can request this assessment if you or the school still feel that your child is still not making enough progress as other children the same age.

EHC Plans

Depending on the outcome of the assessment, you will first receive a draft, followed by a final EHC Plan which will detail the extra help that your child will receive.

For more information on a statutory EHC Needs Assessment and EHC Plans, visit the People's Information Point website [external link]

SEN Reforms

From September 2014, new legislation (the Children and Families Act 2014) in relation to children and young people with special educational needs has been introduced. The main areas of change are:

  • replacing statements and learning difficulty assessments with a new birth to 25 Education, Health and Care Plan, extending rights and protections to young people in further education and training and offering families personal budgets so that they have more control over the support they need;
  • improving cooperation between all the services that support children and their families and particularly requiring local authorities and health authorities to work together;
  • requiring local authorities to involve children, young people and parents in reviewing and developing provision for those with special educational needs and to publish a ‘local offer’ of support.

The Department for Education have produced a guide for parents and carers of children and young people [external link]. 

Publications and Reports

National benchmarking of Parent Partnership Services (PPS) in England has taken place annually since 2004. Its purpose is to provide a range of data that should be useful to:

  • IASS officers
  • IASS steering and management groups
  • Local authority officers responsible IASS
  • all those with an interest in IASS at national, regional and local level.

The national benchmarking summary [pdf document] gives a snapshot of the range of data that has been collected.  

If you have any comments please contact Darlington IASS for more information.

IASS Newsletter

IASS Information

IASS Case Studies

IASS Factsheets

Information covering Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

Some of this information is also available in easy read formats [external link]

Information covering schools

Further Information

Independent Parental Supporters

We recruit volunteers to support parents of children with Special Educational Needs and/or a Disability. The support volunteers can provide can vary and will be explained fully at training sessions that will be delivered before volunteers can commence working with the service. The use of Independent Parental Supporters to support IASS is outlined in the IASS Exemplifications.

If you are interested in signing up to be an Independent Parental Supporter, please send your completed application to:

Training for parents

Training events are often available for parents and will be publicised on this page.


We welcome any feedback (good or bad) from parents about our services. You can complete our evaluation form to let us know what you think about the service.

Feedback from parents:

  • "Having someone to speak for us and our child at meetings, and the sending out of information."
  • "Efficient and clear explanation of complex statement procedures."
  • "Someone to help with paperwork who is not emotionally connected, but who can understand what is needed and how to convey across to others what the parents concerns and requirements are."
  • "Parents need someone with knowledge on how procedures and processes work, without that we would have no understanding of understanding of how things run in councils / educations departments"
  • "Friendly service that I actually felt was listening to me and understanding my concerns over my son."
  • "They act as an intermediary and can offer support and assistance."
  • "Knowing a point of contact who knows where you can get extra help and support."
  • "Knowing someone is on your side."

Website links

You can also visit the IASS Facebook page [external link]

For details on other Information, Advice and Support Services in the North East, visit the IASS Network website [external link]