Department for Education SEND Review

NNPCF engagement with the SEND Review

At the NNPCF conference on the 7th November, delegates will have the opportunity to create solutions to the issues facing families for input into the SEND review.

In September, the government announced a “Five years on” review of the SEND system. The NNPCF were delighted with this announcement as the we had asked Nadhim Zahawi, the previous Minister for Children and Families for a clear cross governmental strategy for SEND when we met with him in July.

The NNPCF has been heavily engaged in the early stages of the SEND review, working to ensure that the voice of parent carers is central it work. At the onset of the review we met with Kemi Badenoch, the Minister for Children and Families and asked her to ensure that the review was truly cross governmental and came up with real, hard hitting recommendations that address the root causes. You can find a record of our meeting here

Since then, NNPCF co-chairs Tina Emery and Mrunal Sisodia have met with the head of the review team to explain the work of parent carer forums, our lived experience of the SEND system and make some recommendations about what we think needs to change.

In October, members of the SEND review team attended the NNPCF steering group meeting. In our session, we shared feedback from our members on some of the root causes of the issues in the SEND system and suggested a series of changes that would make the system work more effectively for families.

We will also be hosting a session on the SEND review at our annual conference on the 7th of November when attendees will have the opportunity to co-produce some of the solutions to the issues that the SEND system faces. Although they are unable to lead the session because of restrictions on government activities during an election period, members of the SEND review team will be in attendance.

We are also working with the SEND review team to create more opportunities for parent carer forums including working with regions. We will keep you posted.

Education Education Select Committee

Education Select Committee publishes its report into SEND

The Education Select Committee has published its long-awaited report into SEND. The NNPCF steering group met this morning and reviewed the key messages. You can find the report here

We are pleased to see that the report reflects many of the key themes that we have heard from our membership and we raised to the committee in our written and oral evidence. You can see the evidence that we gave here, – Education Committee,

and further written evidence below.

We highlighted and called for:

· Adequate funding for SEND services

· Greater accountability across the system

· Low prioritisation of SEND across Health and Social Care

· Incentives across the system are not aligned to be inclusive

· A greater voice for families

We are pleased all of these themes are reflected in the report and parent carer forums and individual stories are referenced in the report.

Going forward, we will continue to represent the views of our membership through the work being done in the SEND review. We are also working with the Department for Education to ensure that parent carer forums have input into the work of the review team. We will keep you updated.


Let’s talk about coproduction

The top priority of the NNPCF is to spread the word on coproduction. We believe that the best way of improving the outcomes for children and young people with SEND is to listen to them and their families and to include them in all the decisions about their lives. Whether it is designing an individual therapy programme for a child or commissioning a multi-million pound contract, coproduction is the key.

Here are just a few examples of how NNPCF steering group members have been talking about coproduction over the few weeks.

NNPCF co-chair, Mrunal Sisodia has given two training sessions for the Local Government Association on their Leadership Essentials course for local councillors who have key positions in children’s services across England. Mrunal trained over 40 councillors and urged them to work collaboratively with parents and to ensure that health, social care and education services worked together more effectively. Mrunal also urged all the council leaders to make sure that they worked with their local parent carer forum and funded it properly.

In the West Midlands, regional steering group member Zara Bowden presented to the whole school send regional network and the regional SEND forum on parent carer forums, coproduction and what good looks like in schools (SEN support being the focus). Both these opportunities resulted in new relationships being forged within the region and a positive response from attendees about the purpose of forums and the potential to work together.

On 26 September Mrunal was joined by NNPCF National Representative Sarah Thomas as they gave the keynote speech at the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists conference. Mrunal and Sarah spoke about how services needed to wrap the child and shared examples from their personal experience to illustrate the benefits and pitfalls. Sarah also spoke about the work that has been done in the North East on the Transforming Care accelerator site where mental health services have worked closely with schools to transform services.

Finally, on the 4th October, NNPCF co-chair Tina Emery gave a seminar at the TES SEN show in London. Tina spoke about the lived experience of families with SEND and shared what families have been telling us needs to change.

You can find the key slides that Mrunal, Tina, Zara and Sarah used here [insert link].


NNPCF gives evidence to the Public Accounts Committee

Following the publication of the National Audit Office report into SEND (you can find a link to the NNPCF news story here ), the influential Public Accounts Committee has launched an inquiry into SEND.

NNPCF co-chair, Mrunal Sisodia was invited by the committee to give evidence on the 30th September. Mrunal was joined on the panel by Richard Kramer from SENSE representing the Disabled Children’s Partnership, Phillipa Stubbs from the Council for Disabled Children representing the Special Educational Consortium and Matthew Keer from Special Needs Jungle.

The Public Accounts Committee considers how effectively government policies have been implemented and, in his evidence, Mrunal emphasised the importance of coproduction and the frustrations of parent-carers who are not listened to and do not get access to services until they are in crisis. He highlighted the experiences of children with SEND in mainstream schools as being a particular concern.

Mrunal also spoke about how SEND services needed more money and a greater priority from local leaders. In addition, the money that is in the system is not being spent effectively because of poor joined up working and commissioning across Education, Health and Care services.

You can watch the evidence session here

It also featured on Today in Parliament on Radio 4 (starts approximately 19 minutes in)

DfE guidance Minister for children and families

NNPCF cochairs meet with Children and Families Minister Kemi Badenoch

Yesterday, NNPCF cochairs met with Children and Families Minister Kemi Badenoch along with Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children and the chief executives of Contact and KIDS, Amanda Batten and Caroline Stevens. This was one of the few stakeholder meetings the Minister was holding before starting her maternity leave next week. MP Michelle Donelan will be providing maternity cover in the period that the Minister is out of office.

The group discussed the challenges facing the SEND system and described the battles that families have to secure the services and support that they need. Tina and Mrunal introduced the work of parent carer forums and the whole group emphasized the importance of coproduction with parent-carers and children and young people and why joint working across the system is so important.

The group also discussed the “Five years on” review of the SEND system announced by the government this morning.

In response to this announcement, NNPCF co-chairs Tina Emery and Mrunal Sisodia made the following statement:

“We are delighted that the government has responded to our calls for a review of the SEND system. Five years on from the Children and Families Act, the aspirations of the reforms have not yet been delivered for far too many children with special educational needs. We need a cross governmental plan of action to address the challenges that our members and our partners in the SEND sector have identified. A co-ordinated approach that puts the voice of families and young people at the heart of decision making is key to making sure that the welcome extra funding announced for SEND is spent effectively.

We look forward to working with the Department for Education and sharing the knowledge and experience of our members to making sure this review delivers what the families of children and young people with SEND need.”

The NNPCF welcomes this review and have been asking the Department for Education for a wholescale, cross governmental plan to address the concerns raised by our membership. We raised this in our meetings with officials in June and in our meeting with Minister Nadhim Zahawi in July.

The launch of the review comes in the wake of extra funding for schools and SEND announced by the Department for Education on the 31st of August. The NNPCF welcome the extra money which the NNPCF have been calling for in our last two state of the Nation reports

State of the Nation Reports – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C (

NNPCF co-chairs Tina Emery and Mrunal Sisodia said,

“The extra money announced is essential to making sure our children get the support and opportunities they need. However, money alone will not address the concerns highlighted by our membership in our State of the Nation reports. For this, we need a joined-up plan across Education, Health and Social Care that puts coproduction at the heart of all decision making.”


NNPCF cochairs meet with Nadhim Zahawi

On Thursday 18th July NNPCF cochairs Tina Emery and Mrunal Sisodia met with Nadhim Zahawi, the Undersecretary of State for Children and Families.

In the meeting, Tina and Mrunal, discussed our recent State of the Nation report with the Minister. He indicated he was familiar with the issues raised in our report (the NNPCF and others in the sector have raised these themes with him and his officials previously). In particular, he emphasized that the concerns of our members that funding for SEND was not sufficient to deliver the services that families with SEND need has been understood by the department. He stated that the Department for Education was keen to seeking to secure more funding for SEND from the Treasury in any upcoming comprehensive spending review. Tina and Mrunal offered to assist the Department for Education to make its case with the Treasury in the context of many competing demands from other government departments. You can find a copy of our state of the nation here:

State of the Nation Reports – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C (

Tina and Mrunal also called for a cross governmental strategy for SEND. There is agreement across the whole SEND sector about the nature of the challenges our children face. With the launch of the NHS long term plan and the new SEND system leadership board, there is an opportunity to create a single, co-ordinated cross -governmental action plan to address the issues that are being highlighted across the whole sector. The Minister was warm to the idea of a cross governmental action plan and asked his officials to explore the idea with the NNPCF.

Tina and Mrunal also discussed the need for a consistent and shared definition and approach to co-production across the whole sector. The Minister understood the need for better understanding, practice and assessment of coproduction and we will be working with the Department for Education over the coming months to progress our ideas. We will, of course, coproduce this with local parent carer forums and our partners in the sector.

Finally, everyone recognized that the appointment of a new Prime Minister may mean changes at all levels of government. Nevertheless, the NNPCF will continue to represent the views of forums to Ministers and officials.

NHS England

An update on the NHS Long Term Plan

The NHS Long Term plan was published in January this year. The plan contains many goals that are both welcome and necessary to the lives of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). For example:

  • Funding for children and young people’s mental health services to grow faster than both overall NHS funding and total mental health spending.
  • Improvements around autism diagnosis
  • All children and young people with a learning disability, autism or both with the most complex needs to have a designated keyworker by 2023/24

Since its publication, the NNPCF have been involved in numerous conversations with members of the senior NHS England leadership to ensure that the SEND agenda is given a high priority and that the voice of parent-carers is heard in decision making at both a national and a local level.

Many of the details of the governance and implementation of the plan are still in development but some important aspects have been confirmed:

  • A new children and young people’s stakeholder council is being set up. The purpose of this group is to provide oversight, accountability and governance for those aspects of the long term plan that relate to children and young people. NNPCF co-chair, Mrunal Sisodia, will be sitting on the stakeholder council. This group as complementary to the SEND system leadership board that has been set up by the Department for Education and at which the NNPCF also have a place.
  • A new NHS Children and Young People’s transformation board will be responsible for the delivery of the long term plan for children and young people. This board has met once already and is made up of NHS project managers and leaders. NHS leaders are still in the process of agreeing how parents will be represented on this group, the NNPCF are a part of these conversations.
  • There will be ten workstreams reporting into this board. They are: Keeping CYP well; Workforce; Data and Digital; Integrated Models of Care; Improving Quality; Voice and Experience; Mental Health; Cancer, Learning Disability and Autism; SEND.
  • The boards for these workstreams are in the process of being formed. We can confirm that the NNPCF are represented on the Learning Disability and Autism and the SEND programmes. We are also exploring the right engagement for the NNPCF on the Workforce, Mental Health and Integrated Models of Care workstreams.
  • The plan will be driven through a model of national policy setting, regional support and enablement and local implementation. We have re-iterated the need for local clinical commissioning groups and Integrated Care Systems to work with local parent carer forums.