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Season’s greetings from the NNPCF steering group

As a year like no other draws to the close, we would like to take the opportunity to reflect over the work of forums and the NNPCF over the last few months.

Covid 19 remains a huge concern

The pace of 2020 has been relentless. We know that the demands on forums have been greater and more sustained than ever before. As we look back on the last term, it is the response to Covid 19 that again dominates our work. Since schools returned, we have participated in regular conversations with the Department for Education to relay the experiences of families with SEND to them. You can find our key messages in our updates posted in September, October and November:

Your back to school experiences – NNPCF Steering Group brief Minister Vicky Ford | NNPCF

NNPCF cochairs meet with new Department for Education Permanent Secretary | NNPCF

Sector leaders feedback to Minister Vicky Ford on what the latest lockdown means for children and young people with SEND | NNPCF

Despite this, the recovery from covid is only just starting and we have huge amounts of work to do to minimise the existing and future impacts on children and families with SEND.

But its not just Covid that we have been working on

Whilst Covid 19 has dominated our agenda again, the problems that were obvious in the SEND system before then pandemic have not gone away and have been exacerbated by Covid in many ways. we have also been engaged in several other major pieces of work. These include:

  • Engaged regularly with the SEND review to provide solutions to some of the most difficult issues in the SEND system. Look out for an NNPCF webinar on this in the new year.
  • NNPCF regions and local forums have supported the NHSE Learning Disability and /or Autism team with their regional roll out of the Key working pilots
  • NNPCF regions have also been invited to work with NHSE to support their work on Tier 4 admissions avoidance for children.
  • We submitted evidence to and appeared before the Education Parliamentary Select Committee on home education. Education Committee Inquiry into Home Education | NNPCF
  • And most recently, we responded to the call for evidence from the Work and Pensions Parliamentary Select Committee on the disability employment gap.

As ever, we could not have done this without you – it was your responses to surveys on Home Education and the Disability Employment Gap that allowed us to submit such strong responses to the parliamentary select committees and your regional and local networks that made the work with NHSE possible.

Another very different conference

And in amongst all of this we managed to put on a very different conference with our partners from Contact. With great keynotes from Professor Russell Viner the president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Sue North and Ray James the Learning Disability and Autism leads from NHSE and messages from not one, but two Ministers, our conference was a busy week. Moreover, there were great sessions on topics chosen by you on mental health, running a forum and supported employment. The school exclusions team were hugely impressed with the feedback from members at their workshop and plan to meet with forums again in the Spring when they will be revising exclusions guidance.

1000 members attended our sessions as they were broadcast and we know that many more of you will watch them back over the coming weeks from the conference website. Contact & NNPCF first virtual national parent carer forums’ conference 2020 | Contact

Looking forward

So, it is fair to say that 2020 has been an incredible year – a year of hardship and loss but also one in which parent carer forums have shown their resilience, creativity and value time and time again. During the response to Covid 19 that eviscerated so many of the services that SEND families rely upon, forums have risen to the challenge and supported and represented their communities. The intelligence you have provided us has enabled the NNPCF to make sure that the lived experience of our children is heard by leaders across regional and national government and the NHS.

Next year will bring its own share of issues and opportunities. Despite all of your efforts, we know that the prospects for our children are more difficult than ever. We are already looking ahead to making sure that the voice of parent carers is represented in the following priority areas:

Yet again, we will rely upon your knowledge, experience and wisdom as we undertake this work.

It is with this in mind that we say thank you for all of your efforts this year and wish you a very happy holiday season. Please make sure that you take time off over the break, you have all earnt it.

We will; see you in the new year refreshed and ready to carry on our crucial work.

The NNPCF Steering group

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