On 6th November 2023, our co chairs met with the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education, Susan Acland-Hood.
Susan is the most senior civil servant within the Department for Education ( DfE) .
This was the NNPCF’s first meeting with Susan Acland-Hood, which went very well and provided an opportunity to raise the profile of the work that forums do, along with the issues and concerns of parent carers.
The discussion focused on:
- Employment for those with SEND and the importance of working with industry and Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to ensure that our children and young people have opportunities for full time employment.
- Early Years, whilst ELSEC is part of the change programme partnership, more needs to be done.
- The Change Programme is an exciting programme of work but some additional communication to families and forums would be very welcome.
- The importance of consistent and equitable Ordinarily Available Provision for those in mainstream. Along with strong Local Offer information.
- Concerns raised by families about the Safety Valve Programme on services and the need for reassurance about the focus being on correct early intervention preventing needs from escalating. Along with more openness about the project for forums.
Susan was encouraging about the challenge parent carers and forums provide and ensured us that they are working with colleagues in the DWP, though we asked that they should be present at the SENDAP implementation board.
We are pleased about the supported internship pilot that doesn’t require an EHCp, as this will help a lot of families access supported internships in the future.
Susan agreed that better communications with families across all the programmes that are currently underway would be a good idea. Concerns raised around less EHCp’s or the Safety Valve Programme are due to poor communications, she said that her team would look at this moving forward.
An invitation to attend our NNPCF/Contact National Conference in February 2024 was extended to Susan and her team and they will ensure that DfE is well represented.