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Terms of reference

Local authorities must arrange for children with SEN or disabilities for whom they are responsible, and their parents, and young people with SEN or disabilities for whom they are responsible, to be provided with information and advice about matters relating to their SEN or disabilities, including matters relating to health and social care.

SEND Code of Practice 2014, DfE 

IAS Services have a duty to provide information, advice and support to disabled children and young people, and those with SEN, and their parents.

They are statutory services, meaning there must be one in every local authority. They are expected to comply with the Minimum Standards for SEND Information Advice and Support Services set out by the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Social Care National Minimum Standards for IAS Services

They are free, impartial and confidential services.

Please contact us if you would like to see the updated quarterly data.

Purpose and Aims

The Steering Group will:

Take an active role in promoting and developing the Essex SEND Information, Advice and Support Service (SEND IASS), building parental, children and young people confidence in the service.

Provide a forum for discussion of parent/carer, children and young people’s issues which will help to:

  • identify and promote good practice
  • raise issues and concerns
  • identify gaps in service
  • help to define what the priorities are for the service.

Discuss and advise on effective support for the SEND IASS activities, taking into account best practice locally, regionally and nationally.

Advise and support on how the requirements of the SEND IASS – as set out in the National Minimum Standards for IAS Services - are being realised in practice based on consultation with parents & carers, children and young people.

Support and advise the Service on giving parents/carers, children and young people, impartial information about local and national independent organisations.

Support and advise the Service in ensuring that it is accessible to all sections of the community in Essex

Review the feedback from parents/carers, children and young people, education settings, staff and partner agencies on the effectiveness of support provided by the Service.

Ensure the service is aware of and reacting to the requirements of national legislation and has an effective means of feeding into discussions on how the Local Authority develops the delivery of services for children and young people who have SEND and their parents/carers.


Members of the Steering Group will be chosen on their ability to make an effective contribution on behalf of the stakeholder they represent, and their willingness to be active in promoting the interests of the SEND IASS, acting as champions within their groups/services/local areas to both encourage and support access to the work of SENDIASS. Parents/carers within the group will therefore be defined as volunteers for the service. The Steering Group will include representatives from the following: 

  • Parents/carers of children who have SEND representing voluntary/parent led organisations
  • Essex SEND Information, Advice and Support Service
  • Social Care
  • Health
  • Head teachers from primary, secondary, special schools
  • Early Years settings
  • SEND Services 

The SEND IASS Manager will attend to provide professional advice to the group in terms of legislation, outcomes, key performance indicators and SEND IASS strategic developments etc.

The membership of the Steering Group will seek a 50/50 balance between parents/carers and professionals, to enable group discussion and to safeguard the impartiality of the SEND IASS. 

The SEND IASS will be responsible in conjunction with the Chair/Vice Chair for sending out invitations and reports, co-ordinating the agenda items, arranging venues and refreshments, taking notes at the meeting and distributing minutes afterwards. 

Any member not able to attend will ensure apologies are sent and try to delegate a relevant colleague to attend in their place.

The Steering Group will appoint a Chair and Vice-Chair from its membership to serve for a maximum three year term subject to annual confirmation of the appointment.  

Structure and Format of Meetings

Agendas and reports will be circulated to all members two weeks in advance by the SEND IASS/Chair/Vice-chair. The group will try to get a balance of an informal atmosphere that welcomes contributions from all its members whilst at the same time getting through the business arising. Informal networking will be encouraged and support given to help explain any of the items to any members before a meeting if they wish.

Meetings will take place termly. Timings and venues may vary but will usually be held in the middle of the day in consideration of the needs of parents/carers at County Hall, Chelmsford. 

The Steering Group will be deemed to be quorate when a minimum of 50% of the membership is present and the 50/50 balance between parents/carers and professionals is maintained.

The meetings will be chaired by a non-LA member who summarises action points.

The SEND IASS Manager will give a termly report on the work of the Service at each meeting and answer any questions arising. 

Recommendations made will, whenever possible, be reached by consensual agreement. If it is not possible the chair will deem a majority decision to be carried.  The final decision will rest with the line management for the service which will take into account recommendations from the Steering Group. 

The Chair and Vice Chair will represent the Group at termly meetings to be held with the manager of SEND IASS and line management of the service. The agenda for such meetings will be driven by the Steering Group discussions and recommendations.


A key function of the Steering Group is to promote the work of the SEND IASS to a wider audience and that objective takes precedence but where agreed by the meeting that a matter is confidential then, each member is responsible for ensuring all information contained in reports and that which is shared at meetings is kept confidential. This information should be stored in an appropriate place and not shared with anyone outside the Steering Group without consent or until such time as it is published.  

Monitoring and Evaluation

Each autumn the Steering Group shall:

  • Confirm the Chair and Vice-Chair for the subsequent year unless an election is required.
  • Present an annual report on the performance of the Essex SEND IASS, and their own activities, to the Local Authority.
  • Review and make recommendations regarding the purpose and aims of the SEND IASS Steering Group in accordance with local and national policy and practice.

Clare Woodcock

Manager Essex SEND IAS Service

January 2020