What we do at DIAS

Devon Information Advice and Support (DIAS) service provides information, advice and support on special educational needs and disability (SEND). It’s a statutory service, which means it must be provided by law.  Every local authority in England has this type of service and what they provide is shaped by chapter 2 of the SEND Code of Practice and the National Quality Standards for IASS services.

Our service

Our main activity is to provide a service for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, aged up to 25, and their parents or carers.  We give support around SEND issues at every stage of a child’s education, including into further education and adulthood. The service offers:

Our other activities

We do much more than provide our information advice and support though. These are our some of our other activities and roles.

Listening to, and working with, parents, carers and young people

DIAS reference group

DIAS has a reference group made up of parents, carers and professionals from schools, inclusion and early years. The group’s role is to guide the growth and development of the service. They meet three times a year to talk about a wide range of issues for DIAS, including:

  • the parent’s perspective on key issues
  • evaluating what we do and how we do it
  • how we work with other SEND services
  • responding to pressure on SEND services

Talking to parents about information and support needs

In 2016, Devon Parent Carers’ Voice (DPCV) held two events for around 100 parents and carers. At these events DIAS ran an information session, where we asked parents and carers to think about and discuss the information and support they get around SEND. The main issues are in our short report ‘The journey with a child with SEND: Parent and carer views’.

Findings from these events led to an Open Space Event in 2017 for 50 parents and professionals to investigate in more detail how SEND information could be improved.  We gained much from listening to and taking part in these conversations and have used what we learned to shape our service. A summary of the findings from the event are in our Open Space summary report.

The findings were used to develop DIAS Information principles, which have been shared with other teams within Devon County Council and organisations involved in SEND.

DIAS Information Principles  

These are the principles that parents and carers feel should underpin the development and production of information resources and services for parents and carers.

Information should be:

  • clear
  • accurate
  • accessible
  • empathetic
  • honest
  • relevant

If you want to find out more about our work with parents and carers, or about our information work, contact Sarah Smith.


As part of our quality standards we have a remit to deliver training to parents and professionals about SEND issues and support.  We work with Devon SEND Local Offer and parents to deliver our training.

For parents, we offer:

  • Parent Information Events. These are two hour sessions run jointly with Devon SEND Local Offer. DIAS and Local Offer staff explain how SEND support works in Devon and give information and advice to parents about the graduated response and the Local Offer.
  • Better Outcomes from meetings training.  These are interactive skills training sessions for school meetings, which help to support parents to prepare for meetings, manage the unexpected and get the outcomes they want.
  • DIAS Service explained. These are usually hour long sessions with particular groups, such as parents of children and young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and special guardians. DIAS Officers talk about what the DIAS service does for parents, carers and young people.

For professionals we offer:

  • Making meetings work. These are interactive skills training sessions for school and college meetings, which help professionals to work constructively with parents, manage the unexpected and understand the parent’s perspective.
  • Bespoke training sessions, on subjects like the child’s voice and Education Health and Care plans.

If you want to find out more about our training for  parents and professionals, contact us.

Influencing policy and practice

We work with national and local organisations and teams to influence policy and change or improve practice.

This is a sample of some of our strategic work:

  • Working with the SEN 0-25 team, Devon Parent Carer Voice (DPCV) and a group of parents to review and re-write three letters to make them more parent-friendly. The 0-25 team have requested for more letters to be reviewed in this way.
  • DIAS proposed and supported the creation of the Local Offer Reference Group (LORG). This group forms a key role in the strategic participation mechanism for parents and young people with the local authority and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
  • DIAS reports its key statistics for the SEND report, including increases in the number of exclusion cases supported, to Head of Education for reporting to the council scrutiny committee.
  • We contribute to SEND Improvement Board work stream on Information, Participation and Engagement, active work on engagement framework and mechanism for Devon SEND Local Offer website improvement.
  • Took part in the national evaluation of the Independent Support programme, which looked at what works in the delivery of Independent Support.

You can find out more about our work over the last year by reading out Annual report 2016/17. If you’d like to know more about any aspect of our work, please contact us.

For a look at the work of DIAS in previous years, which show how the service has evolved and grown, please have a look at our previous annual reports.



Page updated: February 2018
Page due for review: February 2020


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