Contact a Family’s SEN Advice Line which deals with parents’ top worries gets funding boost

Contact A Family logoContact a Family’s SEN Advice Line which last year answered more than 3,400 enquiries from parents’ worried about their child’s education and disability issues, has received funding from the Freemasons to continue its work.

As children return to school after the Easter break, more parents whose child has an additional need are turning to Contact a Family’s SEN Advice line and demand for the charity’s unique service increases year on year. Over 900 parents called the SEN advice line in the first three months of 2015 – a third more than the same period last year.

The welcome award of £30,000 from the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys’ Stepping Stones scheme will help meet this extra demand by funding an additional part-time SEN specialist adviser over the next two years.

Education is a top concern for families with disabled children. From January 2014 – January 2015:

  • The vast majority of enquiries to the SEN helpline were from parent carers concerned about the level of support their child was receiving at school
  • 1 in 5 (21%) enquiries to Contact a Family’s SEN service were from parents worried about aspects of statementing for their child.
  • Nearly 200 calls (196) were about a child being officially or unofficially excluded from school

The recent change in SEN law also means the SEN Advice line has seen a rise in calls from families confused about SEN reform and needing more information about the new system. Around 1 in 5 calls to the helpline in September 2014 (when the new law came into force) were about transferring to the new SEN system and how to get an Education, Health and Care needs assessment and plan for their child.

Jill Davies who manages the SEN Advice Line at Contact a Family says: “Children with additional needs, need extra support in school and can miss out on vital education without it. Parents understandably worry if their child is not progressing due to a lack of support and this can affect their health and wellbeing. Often a call to our helpline is triggered by an incident such as exclusion, or a child’s anxiety and refusal to attend school. Our advisers help parents understand their rights and guide them through the process to get extra help for their child’s SEN.”

“We are delighted to receive this funding from the Freemasons to help us continue our vital service. Our SEN Advice Line provides a one-stop-shop which means that parents and carers who have concerns about any aspect of their child’s education can access in-depth and personalised advice from fully trained and experienced SEN advisers in one place.”

Contact a Family established the SEN Advice Line with funding from the Department for Education. It forms part of the charity’s integrated helpline and online service for families of disabled children.

Parents or carers looking after children with additional needs who need advice and information about any aspect of their child’s education can call Contact a Family’s SEN Helpline on 0808 808 3555, email  or online . Questions and queries can also be posted on the charity’s Facebook page The helpline is open Monday to Friday, 0930-17:00.

Contact a Family supports families with disabled children across the UK. Whatever the condition, whenever they need us, wherever they are. Find out more at

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