The Independent Support programme has now ended

Please be aware that the Independent Support Programme ended on 31 July 2018.  However, support is still available to parents and young people via your local Information advice and Support Service

The Independent Support programme has been a government funded initiative aimed to support parents with children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) during the transition to a new system of assessment and support, which came into force September 2014.

Free and impartial information, advice and support will continue to be available from local Information Advice and Support Services who have a statutory responsibility to provide support on a wide range of SEND issues, including the statutory assessment process, to children, young people and parents.

Despite some challenges at the start, the Independent Support programme has demonstrated success with over 160,000 service users accessing and benefitting from the service offer across England. Independent evaluation by the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) reported that Independent Support had been the cornerstone of the reforms for many people in many areas, reflecting a focus on personalised and people led support at critical transition points in young people’s lives. NTDI also reported that Independent Supporters can be and often are a catalyst for change, helping to embed the culture of the Reforms in organisations and with families so that they have a wider impact on systems as well as with individuals.

During the programme life, the Independent Support programme introduced a new approach to local partnership arrangements on a national scale, which continues to operate in many local authority areas. The programme devised and provided national and regional training to over 5,000 individuals, developed parent animations, tools, fact sheets and published over 100 cases studies to support the sector, seek service improvements and encourage good practice.  The programme has also helped local authorities to continue their role supporting families and young people and in doing so, consider how best a child or young person can be supported to achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes.

Fact sheets, resources, tools, case studies and online training developed through the Independent Support programme will continue to be available on the website as part of CDCs legacy intentions. But may be adapted to ensure its content is up to date and relevant to the sector.

The Independent Support team at Council for Disabled Children would like to thank all the IS agencies and IAS services involved in the programme since 2014, Dame Christine Lenehan, members of the IS Advisory Board and Patrick Agius at the Department for Education for the ongoing support and guidance during the programme life. 

If you have any questions about Independent Support then please write to Martin Bull at