Go back a step

Contact a Family’s SEN National Advice Service deals with parents’ top worry and proves its worth in first six months

Monday 9th July 2012

Nearly 2,600 people who care for children with SEN or additional needs got in touch with Contact a Family's new SEN National Advice Service in its first six months (November 2011 - May 2012) to get advice and information about their child's education.

The high demand for Contact a Family's SEN National Advice Service echoes findings of a survey carried out by the charity earlier this year which showed that their child's education - both now and in the future - was the main concern of parents and carers.

Nearly half (46 per cent) of the enquiries handled by the charity's expert SEN advisors were from parents worried about lack of support in school for their child's additional needs, and wanting to know more about the procedures for getting extra help in school, including the statementing process.

Nearly a third of people (28 per cent) contacting the SEN National Advice Service wanted more information about the appeals process and almost one in five people (29 per cent) wanted advice and help about either official or unofficial exclusions of their child from school. 

Anne Brook who heads up the SEN National Advice Service team at Contact a Family says: "Our unique service provides a one-stop-shop which at last means that parents and carers who have concerns about any aspect of their child's education can access in-depth and personalised advice from fully trained and experienced SEN advisers in one place.

"The number of calls and emails we have had in our first six months proves the service we offer is much needed as parents and carers attempt to find their way through the extremely complex and often daunting SEN maze. Parents and carers want to ensure they have the right information and that their children have the right support but until our SEN National Advice Service launched last October they may have found such support, advice and information difficult to find."

Contact a Family established the SEN National Advice Service with funding from the Department for Education. It forms part of the charity's integrated helpline and online service for families of disabled children.

Parents or carers looking after children with SEN or additional needs who need advice and information about any aspect of their child's education can call Contact a Family's SEN National Advice Service through its confidential, free by telephone line on 0808 808 3555, by email or online. Questions and queries can also be posted on our Facebook page. The helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm.

The charity welcomed the government's proposals to simplify the SEN system to make it easier for disabled children and their families to get the support they need when it published its SEN Green Paper last May. However, as trials of these proposals have just begun, Contact a Family is urging the government to pay close attention to how the proposed new system works in local authority pathfinder areas and looks forward to learning more when a draft bill is published later this year.