These terms and conditions apply each time Independent Provider of Special Education Advice (IPSEA) provides legally-based information, support or advice via any of IPSEA’s helplines and information service. By continuing to use our services you are agreeing to these terms.

Our services

1.1 We shall endeavour to ensure that we always act in your and the child or young person’s best interests in offering advice and information through our helplines. Our helpline services will always be provided to you free of charge. 

1.2 Consistent with our internal policies and procedures, we shall not discriminate on the grounds of colour, race, religion or belief, nationality, ethnic or national origin, sexual orientation, gender, age, physical or mental ability or marital/civil partnership status, in the way we provide our services. 

1.3 The services we provide via our helplines and information service include: 

  1. legally based information and next step advice on educational issues that are a result of a child or young person’s special educational needs or disability;
  2. next step advice on appeals and disability discrimination claims to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal;
  3. referrals to our Tribunal Support Service for casework support including representation at Tribunal hearings; and
  4. general legal enquiries and signposting to the pages and resources on our website.

1.4 We do not advise local authorities or educational institutions via our helplines or information service.

1.5 Where we advise on the law, we advise on English law only.

1.6 All IPSEA helpline advisers undergo legal and practical training. Their advice is supervised and monitored. IPSEA helpline advisers and their supervisors may or may not have legal qualifications or be qualified solicitors.

1.7 When booking an appointment for one of our helplines, you will be asked to complete a Parent Information Form. If you do not wish to answer any or all of the questions on this form, you do not have to do so, but the information collected here allows us to monitor who accesses our services. This helps us to identify gaps in our service provision, make improvements, and ensure that services are delivered in a fair way to all users. It also helps us to apply for funding opportunities to secure IPSEA's services for the future, as we can use the collated information in our funding applications. The information you provide will be kept confidential, and we will not share your name or personal information with anyone else.

1.8 If necessary we shall communicate with you at the postal address, email address and/or telephone numbers which you supply to us.

1.9 Please let IPSEA know if you are in receipt of legal aid or receiving support from someone else. If you are receiving ongoing support from a solicitor or other advocate then regrettably IPSEA is unable to give you advice. This is to avoid the potential for conflicting advice, and to ensure our appointments are available for parents and carers who are not receiving any other support.

1.10 We may monitor or record any calls made via the IPSEA helplines for quality control and training purposes. We will not disclose or share such recordings except where required to do so by law, to comply with our obligations, or on your instructions.

Regulation of services

1.11 As outlined above, an IPSEA helpline adviser or supervisor giving advice may or may not be a solicitor. If the adviser or supervisor is a practising solicitor then they are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”). The SRA dictates the standards of professionalism that are expected of solicitors.

Data protection and security

1.12 IPSEA collects personal data about you and the child or young person we are contacted about. Where relevant, or where provided by you, we may also collect data about other family members such as your partner or your child or young person’s siblings. Where the information provided does not relate to you, we shall presume that you have the consent of the person whom you are supplying the data about, to provide that information to us.

1.13 We collect your personal data when you fill in a request form for an IPSEA service, when you are being advised by IPSEA and when you provide data to IPSEA in correspondence.

1.14 If you are referred to us by a third party, or an IPSEA partner, we will store and use the data provided to us at the time of referral together with any additional information provided by you.

1.15 IPSEA collects and uses your personal data to pursue our legitimate interests such as ensuring you can access our services to receive relevant advice on SEND law and to record, manage, supervise and quality assure the advice given, to request donations towards our services, and to comply with our legal and safeguarding obligations.

1.16 We implement various technical and organisational security measures to ensure your data is kept secure. You and/or the child or young person can ask us to see a copy of the personal data we hold about you or the child or young person.

1.17 We will not disclose any information relating to your interests except where required to do so by law, to comply with our obligations (for example, in line with our safeguarding policy), or on your instructions.

1.18 For further information on IPSEA’s data and privacy policy, please see our website https://www.ipsea.org.uk/privacy-policy. For further information on your data protection rights, and your right to complain if you are unhappy about the way we manage your personal information, please see the Information Commissioner’s Office website at https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/.

Complaints handling

1.19 IPSEA aims to provide a consistently high quality service to everyone who contacts us for advice and support. However, we understand that things don’t always go to plan and there may be occasions when the service we provide fails to meet someone’s expectations. When this happens, we want to be told and we will do our best to put things right if we are at fault, as quickly as possible and to the satisfaction of the person(s) affected.

1.20 If you have any problems with the service provided you should contact the member of staff or adviser who has been advising you and they will try to resolve your complaint informally in the first instance. If you feel unable to do this, or remain dissatisfied, please contact [email protected] and a member of IPSEA’s Management Team will investigate and deal with the complaint. If we are unable to deal with your complaint satisfactorily at that time, we will direct you to IPSEA’s Chief Executive or a sub-committee of the Board of Trustees. Full details of our complaints handling policy is available on our website: https://www.ipsea.org.uk/complaints-policy.

1.21 We expect to resolve any problem to your satisfaction. If we fail to do so, you may be able to refer your complaint to a Legal Ombudsman if the helpline adviser is a solicitor. Before accepting a complaint for investigation, the Legal Ombudsman will check that you have tried to resolve your complaint with us first. If you have, then you must take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final response to your complaint, and no more than six years from the date of the action/omission or no more than three years from when you should reasonably have known there was cause for complaint. If you would like more information about the Legal Ombudsman, please contact them. Contact details:

                             Visit: www.legalombudsman.org.uk

                             Call: 0300 555 0333 between 9.00 – 17.00.

                             Email: [email protected]

                             Legal Ombudsman PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ 

1.22 The SRA could also help you if you are concerned about the behaviour of our helpline advisers or supervisors if they are authorised and regulated by the SRA. The SRA could be contacted for issues such as dishonesty or unfair treatment. You can raise your concerns with the SRA via the website at https://www.sra.org.uk/ or by calling 0370 606 2555.

Duty of care

1.23 We shall use reasonable skill and care in the provision of our helpline services.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

1.24 IPSEA has professional indemnity insurance in the event that we make an error in providing you with a service, where that error results in you suffering a financial loss.

Governing law and jurisdiction

1.25 All disputes between you and us shall be determined exclusively by the English courts in accordance with English law.

February 2022