NNPCF Steering Group meeting with Vicky Ford, Minister for Children and Families: COVID 19 and what needs to change with the SEND system
On Wednesday 18th March, the NNPCF steering group met with Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford. Because of COVID 19 restrictions, the meeting was a video-conference.
The Minister was keen to talk about the Education response to COVID 19.
Earlier this week, we issued shared the paper we had sent to the Department for Education and NHS England (add link). This was compiled following feedback from forums to regional steering group members and from discussions we have seen on our closed social media groups.
In our meeting with the Minister we re-iterated the key messages in the paper – namely that they could not take a blanket approach to children and young people with special educational needs and emphasised the key points:
- The importance of supporting our families to have choice and control as much as is possible to protect their families in the most appropriate way.
- We relayed the critical role schools/colleges and residential placements can play in some of our children lives and how it would be helpful for some families to continue to access the often vital support this can provide their children.
- Alongside this we also posed the concerns about access to medical support and social care when services are also suffering from limitations of staff and restrictions due to isolations. We are pleased to see the recommendations
- Finally, we urged the Minister to continue to coproduce the government response with the NNPCF
It is clear there is a challenging road ahead, and as we learn more about the pandemic advice will continue to evolve. We feel the best way we can support families is to reiterate to the DfE, NHSE, and Ministers the importance of clear and concise messages. We are pleased to see the recommendations we asked be considered have been heard and have influenced recent government proposals.
The NNPCF are listening to the concerns forums are sharing, both from within your communities and from within the forum itself. We are all impacted by the current situation in a variety of ways and are rightly concerned and trying to ensure our families are kept safe and well during this difficult time. We also recognise there will be ongoing challenges for forums which we are raising with the DfE and Contact. We are continuing to be in contact with the DfE and NHSE, we will keep you informed about what we are saying and hearing.
Please keep on telling us of how the response to COVID 19 is playing out in your areas. You can contact your regional NNPCF steering group member or post something on the NNPCF closed facebook page and we will incorporate it into our dialogue with the DfE and NHSE.
The SEND Review
We also talked to the Minister about our submission to the SEND review (insert link). She had read our paper and was interested in many of the key messages we have given the review.
We gave the Minister real examples of where children and young people were being let down by the system because of the failings we describe in our report. We also shared examples from across the country where the recommendations from our report had been implemented. We showed how coproduction with families does lead to greatly improved services and outcomes. The Minister promised to continue to work with us and keep us informed on the progress of the review.