Under the revised SEND Code of Practice (January 2015), children and young people have a right to confidential and impartial information, advice and support, regardless of their age or mental capacity. Whilst the code suggests that many children and young people will access services via their parents or carers; services must make it possible for them to access services separately if they wish. Information, advice and support services staff must be clear about these rights, as well as the limits to confidentiality, as safeguarding children and young people will always be paramount. The service will operate within Blackpool’s confidentiality policy and the following explains this in more detail and expands as necessary.
The handling of information that parents, carers, a child or young person provide complies with the requirements of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations, May 2018) and is not shared with anyone outside of the SEND IAS Service unless:
- Consent has been given; or
- There are strong public interest concern such as child protection and/ or risk to others
- If the Local Authority has an Ofsted inspection in the area
- Or if required to do so by court order or by law
- SENDIAS Services are a statutory service who offer information, advice and support to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, their parents and carers (including all those with parental responsibility.)
- All service users are encouraged to share any information that will enable the SENDIAS Service to respond effectively to their needs. This may range from basic data to quite detailed information about their situation.
- Some service users may want to share experiences, both positive and negative, or to discuss issues that are of concern to them. Others may also want to talk about their feelings, anxieties, fears or grievances. In the course of SENDIAS service work, we may be privy to information that is sensitive and personal
- The relationship between a service user and the SENDIAS service is one of trust. Unless the information given suggests that a child may be at risk of harm, conversations between a service user and the SENDIAS service should remain confidential, if this is their wish.
- Where there are issues that need to be brought to the attention of the relevant body within the local authority we will do so in a way that protects the service user's anonymity, unless they have given us consent to identify them. This anonymity will not apply where a child’s safety is at risk. The IASS officer will make it clear at the beginning of the initial contact that they will have to share information in this case.
Data collection and record keeping
- When a referral is received and any further information gathered by the SENDIAS service officer this will remain within the confines of the service and will remain confidential to the service unless the service user gives consent for it to be shared with others outside the service or where a child’s safety is at risk
- Case files are kept electronically in a protected computer network. Case files are only accessible to the IAS service. These include concerns or issues raised and the action taken. In the event of case files being requested in writing by service users under GDPR the Manager of the SENDIAS Service will send the requested information in line with procedure for Subject Access Requests
- Only with service user's consent will officers work with SEND officers and other professionals
- Only with service users consent will the SENDIAS Service request access to information held by SEND, or pass on information to SEND.
- The SENDIAS Service strictly adheres to Blackpool Council’s computer security policy
- Information may be used to generate statistics about service performance. Information will not be used in such a way that individual parents, carers, children / young people or families can be identified
- If we receive a request for information from local authority officers for legal reasons, for example judicial review, this will be considered by the head of service or the line manager. They may, with the consent of the child, young person or parent/carer, direct that the relevant information be extracted from the case file and sent to the relevant officer, with a copy to the parents / carers / child / young person
- SENDIAS service case files will be kept in accordance with the council's main corporate retention and disposal policy
- The only exception to confidentiality is in regard to information, which leads us to believe a child is at risk. We have a legal obligation to pass on concerns regarding child protection
This policy will be reviewed annually and amended if necessary.
Reviewed February 2019