DIAS Officers

When you contact us, your enquiry is likely to be passed on to a DIAS Officer. They might call or email you, and sometimes they give support at meetings, mediation or appeals.

DIAS Officers are trained to give you accurate, useful and relevant information and advice about special educational needs, as well as supporting you to make decisions about your child’s education.

All DIAS Officers have SEND legal training run by the national Information Advice and Support Service. That means they can give you legally based information about your rights and responsibilities and those of schools, colleges, the Local Authority and education professionals.

All DIAS Officers also attend regular training on SEND issues and are fully Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checked. This means a check has been done to make sure they can work with vulnerable groups, such as young people.

“I am so glad you phoned, as all your ideas are brilliant – it is nice to have advice from someone who knows about these things.”

What do DIAS Officers do?

These are the kind of things your DIAS Officer can help you with:

  • Understanding legal processes, such as Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessments and plans, and knowing what you need to do and when.
  • Preparing for meetings.
  • Developing a good working relationship with your child’s nursery, school or college.
  • Making decisions, by talking about what all your options are and the pros and cons of each.
  • Knowing how to do practical tasks, such as asking for an EHC needs assessment, checking a draft EHC plan or getting your child referred to a specialist.
  • Understanding how to deal with conflict in relationships with professionals, or move forward when things have gone wrong.
  • Seeing the wood for the trees – we can help you work out what’s important and to decide what to focus on.
  • Feeling understood and listened to.

“I really appreciate your time helping me, you have made me feel not alone and you have given me expert advice I could not have got elsewhere. You have also made me consider all options and helped me to formulate a plan to develop and progress our case. I could not have got this far without you.”

Who are the DIAS Officers?

DIAS has seven part-time Information Advice and Support Officers, each usually covering a particular area of Devon. We sometimes work together to cover a larger area. When the service is busy, or officers aren’t available, we also cover each other’s areas. That means you may speak to any of the DIAS Officers.

Although you’ll usually build up a relationship with your DIAS Officer if you contact us for support a few times, we can’t guarantee that you’ll always speak to the same person.

This is the team , and the areas they usually cover:

  • Janet Bishop – West Exe & Teignbridge, including Dawlish, Newton Abbot, Teignmouth and Teign Valley
  • Amy Carey-Jones – Mid Devon, including South Molton, Chumleigh, Crediton and Tiverton
  • Melissa Clark – North Devon, including Barnstaple, Bideford, Braunton and Ilfracombe
  • Cathy Hill – South Devon, including Totnes, Dartmouth, Kingsbridge and South Dartmoor
  • Stephanie Maynard – Clyst Vale and most of Exeter
  • Nicky Nicolls – East & Culm, including Axe Valley, Culm, Honiton, Ottery, Sidmouth and Exmouth
  • Sarah Skinner – South Hams & West Devon, including Holsworthy, Okehampton, Tavistock, Torrington and Ivybridge

The team is headed up by Information, Advice and Support Liaison Officer Sue Brealey and supported by Georgie Cridland and Vanessa Johnson, who give administrative support and answer the DIAS enquiry line. Sarah Smith manages the information resources that the service produces, including the website.


Page last updated: January 2018
Page due for review: January 2019

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