Education Support for CYP with SEND

Supporting children and young people with SEND attend school

The NNPCF has been asked to join the Department for Education’s Attendance Action Alliance which was set up by the Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi. Education Secretary launches new attendance alliance – GOV.UK (

The group brings together senior figures from the world of education to boost attendance at school, particularly for vulnerable pupils.

At the meeting this week, chaired by Schools Minister Robin Walker, NNPCF co-chairs Mrunal Sisodia and Tina Emery were asked to lead a discussion on how to support the attendance of CYP with SEND.

Drawing upon the insightful feedback that we got from parent carer forums in our survey last year survey we conducted on school attendance (School attendance for children and young people with SEND – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C (, Mrunal and Tina talked about the reasons for CYP with SEND missing school. These included:

  • How anxiety and mental health issues was the most significant barrier for many CYP with SEND
  • The impact that families not getting the right support had on attendance – not just from schools but also the gaps in social care and health services particularly over the pandemic
  • How fear of covid was less of an issue for parents than many perceived
  • And how the shortage of appropriate school places was stopping CYP with SEND attending school

In addition, we also spoke about the steps local and national government / NHS could take to better support families:

  • More reasonable adjustments
  • A more holistic focus from schools
  • More support for anxiety including better awareness, use and funding of mental health support teams
  • More awareness of the challenges of disability
  • Better training for staff
  • More and better coproduction

Other members of the group endorsed these messages as being aligned with their research and findings.

We also called for a more consistent approach and messages from the Department for Education – children should be supported into school and local authorities and schools must not be allowed to take a punitive approach to school attendance. We highlighted the Autism in Schools project (Autism Schools Project – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C ( as an exemplar of the right approach combining coproduction, a cross system approach and being person centred.

Contact for families with disabled children DCP NNPCF Steering Group

Disabled Children’s Partnership launches new campaign

On Monday 17th January, the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP) will launch a new campaign to highlight the need for SEND to be prioritised and properly funded in April’s local authority budgets.

PCFs and this campaign share a common goal of improving services and outcomes for CYP with SEND and the NNPCF and Contact have been calling for the right prioritisation of SEND and the allocation of sufficient resources to deal with the growing crisis for many years – for example, the NNPCF raised this in the 2018 State of the Nation report (State of the Nation Reports – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C ( and this has formed a key plank of the NNPCF’s messages to the SEND review (Latest developments on the SEND Review – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C ( Local forums have echoed these messages in their meetings with local strategic partners in town and county halls across the country.

The NNPCF and Contact’s participation team have been working with our colleagues at the DCP ahead of the launch of the campaign to ensure that the work of parent carer forums is recognised and leveraged within the campaign, and so that individuals are signposted to their local PCF:

  • PCFs would agree with the core messages of the campaign that CYP with SEND and their families need greater prioritisation and resourcing in local areas
  • Forums and local campaigners could work together to achieve mutual aims – co-production and campaigning can be complementary activities
  • Much of the research compiled by DCP to support this campaign may be very useful to forums in their conversations with local authorities and health commissioners.

We recognise that the campaign may result in some forums experiencing challenge from local campaigners who may not understand the way in which forums work, so we want to remind you of some of the resources that Contact’s participation team and the NNPCF have produced on how forums can work with or alongside campaign groups when they have the same aim – you can find them via the links below:

co-production_and_campaigning_guidance.pdf (

Co-production, Campaigning & the Independence of Parent Carer Forums Webinar Recording – YouTube

The campaign may also result in parent carers who were previously unaware of their local PCF wanting to join, or local groups wanting to make links with the forum.

We wanted to make you aware of the campaign ahead of the launch.  Forums can then make informed choices about whether they wish to take part, or if they have the capacity to take part.

PCFs may also find the resource and research pack useful in their work with their local areas.

If you would like any further information or support, please contact your Contact Parent Carer Participation Advisor, or your NNPCF regional steering group member.

NNPCF and Contact

NNPCF Steering Group

Zara Bowden to step down as NNPCF regional representative

Zara Bowden has announced that she will be stepping down from her role as West Midlands steering group representative in February 2022.

Zara has been a member of the NNPCF steering group since 2015 and has served two terms of office. Her second term comes to an end in September 2022 but Zara has made the difficult decision to step down early to support her daughter through an operation planned for early 2022. Her last day as West Midlands steering group representative will be the 18th of February. Zara will continue to work for the NNPCF as a national representative.

NNPCF Co-chair Mrunal Sisodia said, “Zara was one of the people who welcomed me to the NNPCF when I joined the steering group in 2016. Back then, I was impressed with her enthusiasm and energy. Five years later she’s lost none of that verve and has made a big difference to our development over recent years. We would like to thank her for her work and wish her well in the future.”

Zara said, “Over my 7 years in the role I have seen forums change, grow, and flourish within the region, and the national steering group has completely changed with many new faces joining the team. In all those years I have always been blown away by the dedication and resilience of all parent carers within our network to keep raising aspiration and holding systems to account in partnership. You all inspire me every day to be the representative you deserve in the national steering group, but it’s time for someone else to be inspired by you all now. Whilst I have found parts of the role challenging at times, it’s been an absolute pleasure to serve alongside some of the most amazing parent carers I’ve ever met and have the honour to now call friends. While I am leaving the national team in good hands, I won’t be too far away as an active member of my regional and local forum networks still. I would like to take a moment to thank all parent carer forums and your communities for your support and contributions over the years. I feel privileged to have been a part of this journey with you all.”

We will start the recruitment process for Zara’s replacement in the first week of January. Please look out for an announcement of the timeline for recruitment of a new steering group member.

Covid-19 Department for Education NHS England

NNPCF input into planning for Omicron

You will all be aware that the omicron variant is now spreading in England. The NNPCF have been involved in several conversations with the Department for Education and NHS England about what this means for children and young people (CYP)with SEND.

Whilst we cannot predict the impact of omicron on services some very familiar topics have been discussed including wearing of masks, covid testing of children, supply of teachers and teaching assistants, remote education, blended learning, school rotas and the potential for full school closures.

Through these discussions we have been emphasising some key points:

· The need to coproduce any solutions with families – no blanket solutions and policies should be implemented and services should ensure the particular needs of CYP with SEND and their families are understood.

· The need to make reasonable adjustments for CYP with SEND to ensure that they can continue to access services and education

Whilst the government have stated that schools will only be closed in a national lockdown as a last resort, we must recognise the risk that with widespread omicron infections, some individual schools may need to close because of staff not being available either because of illness or the need to isolate

You can find the latest DfE guidance here, much of it has been updated this week: Guidance for schools: coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK (

At the same time, NHS leaders have issued a letter to NHS trusts and commissioners. You will see point 4 makes specific reference to learning disability and autism services. We have also raised concerns with both NHSE and the DfE that the vaccination drive may lead to health services for CYP with SEND being diverted to the vaccination effort.

Please keep in touch with your NNPCF steering group member to feed back what is happening in your local area. We rely upon your feedback to both to ensure we are representing your views and also to alert the DfE and NHSE to real issues in your areas.

Education NNPCF work SEND Review

SEND Review Update: NNPCF

NNPCF Co-Chairs continue to attend SEND Review Steering Group and represent views of parents and forums but the NNPCF is also heavily involved in the wider sector response to the review.

One example of this is our work with the Special Educational Consortium (SEC) of which the NNPCF is a member.

SEC is a group of organisations who protect and promote the rights of disabled children and children with special educational needs (SEND) and provide a unified voice for the sector. They work with the government, the Department for Education, members of Parliament and other organisations when there are proposals for changes in policy, legislation, regulations and guidance that may affect disabled children and children with SEN.

We believe it is really important that all parental and sector voices are heard by the Review Team and at the last SEC meeting, members were joined by Charles Lang from DfE who is leading the SEND Review. The following key areas were discussed:

  1. Keep it early: early action to identify and meet needs
  2. Keep children in school: focus on the quality of universal provision in settings, schools and colleges
  3. Keep children local: an integrated approach, locally delivered
  4. A recovery programme for all

SEC had compiled a list of 20 asks of the SEND review that the NNPCF have contributed to and which aligns with the messages that the NNPCF have given the SEND review. What we need from the SEND review: NNPCF co-chairs brief Children and Families Minister Will Quince – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C

We encourage parents to keep talking to their local forums and forums to keep feeding back to NNPCF top ensure that your views are represented in the SEND review. Please share your views with your regional NNPCF steering group member and you can also send your thoughts to

NNPCF Steering Group

Farewell 2021: A message from the NNPCF Steering Group

After the exhausting pace of 2020, it’s hard to fathom that 2021 has been even more strenuous for so many of our SEND families and forums. Covid recovery, and new variants, has often felt like a never-ending series of challenges, in which it is easy to forget what you have achieved.

As forums, we are constantly striving for the next improvement, the next service to engage with, meaning we rarely get time to reflect and celebrate the work that has been undertaken.

The impact that forums have had and our ability to continually raise profile of our work, nationally, regionally, and locally, is becoming ever more evident. No more so than the Ministerial Keynote speeches at our NNPCF/Contact Conference this year.

Nadhim Zahawi, Secretary of State for Education said.

“Parent carer forums play such an important role. As the parent carer forums and through the NNPCF you bring the voice of parents to the table at all levels of Government and you make a real difference. You deserve your place around that table and you will always be welcome”

This year has been filled with ever changing national policies, school guidance, vaccine advice, and ensuring that the voice of our members has been heard in every area of our work.

We have engaged with many major pieces of work, some of these include:

  • The SEND Review – where the Co-Chairs are now part of the Steering Committee.
  • School Attendance and the impact on SEND.
  • Covid recovery.
  • Involvement with NNPCF Long Term Plan.
  • Autism in Schools Projects.
  • The Social Care Review.
  • Ofsted and accountability in the SEND System.
  • ECHPs, Annual Reviews, Transitions, Preparing for Adulthood.

The NNCPF has also finalised becoming a CIC, the management team have welcomed Jacqui Watt as the new Participation Lead, and the Steering Group Members have welcomed Richard Jaramba for the East Midlands and Jayne Fitzgerald for Yorkshire & Humber region. Our thanks go to Lara Roberts, Anna Norris and Julie Bruce for all their work and dedication to their roles, and we wish them the very best on their new adventures.

As ever, we rely upon your knowledge, experience, and wisdom, as we continue our work into the new year. Along with enormous gratitude for all your efforts this year and every year. We wish you all a very happy holiday season, with hopefully a well earnt break.

We look forward to an exciting new year and spring full of Green Papers!

The NNPCF Steering group

NHS England

Putting Children and Young People with SEND at the Heart of the Health and Care Bill

As part of our Consultation and Policy work, this week Kay Moore (Consultation & Policy Lead) and Jacqui Watt (Participation Lead) attended the All Parliamentary Group for Children (APPG).

The NNPCF are a member of the Health and Policy Influencing Group (HPIG) which seeks to champion the needs of babies, children and young people (0-25) in the health service. 

The NNPCF welcome the Government’s focus on integrated services including the proposals within the Health & Care Bill to place Integrated Care Systems (ICS) on a statutory footing.  However, we have concerns that the bill does not do enough to bring the benefits of integrated working to children and families, and especially to those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

With the Health & Care Bill having recently entered the House of Lords, and second reading due to take place on Tuesday 7 December, this event provided an important opportunity to explore what good Integrated Care Systems look like for babies, children and young people, including those with SEND.

The event which was chaired by Tim Loughton MP and Baroness Tyler explored:

  • The challenges in the current system
  • What does good integrated care look like

Edward Argar MP, Minister for Health and Social Care, Simon Kenny, National Clinical Director for CYP, NHSE and Dames Rachel de Sousa, Children’s Commissioner for England heard how vital it is that ICSs deliver improved health and social care outcomes for all children, including those with SEND.

There has been some progress as the Minister for Health, Edward Argar MP, has recognised the importance of focusing on children and families in the ICS structures and has committed that the Government would develop bespoke guidance for ICS on meeting the needs of babies, children and young people.

For more information please click here.

Education Ofsted

Ofsted 2020-21 Annual Report

On Tuesday, NNPCF Co-Chair Mrunal Sisodia attended the launch of the Ofsted Annual Report for 2020-21.

The report reviews the work of Ofsted over a year of very heavy Covid disruption in schools and other children’s services. SEND features very heavily in the report and Ofsted has highlighted many of the same points that have been raised by the NNPCF over the last 18 months. These include:

· Challenges for children and young people (CYP) with SEND accessing school

· Differentiation and diversity of the curriculum

· Difficulties in accessing respite services e.g. Holiday schemes for SEND that were not run

· Barriers to accessing multi-agency services

· Fears of parents of clinically vulnerable CYP about covid itself

However, it is also clear that not all of the issues in the current system can be laid at the door of the pandemic and that many CYP with both EHCPs and SEN support were being failed by the system before the pandemic.

These points are entirely consistent with the messages that the NNPCF has been giving national and local government

The report also looks forward to the SEND review and outlines some key points that Ofsted would like to see from the review. Again, these are consistent with the NNPCF input into the review.

At the reception, Mrunal spoke with the chief inspector Amanda Spielman, the Director of Education (Chris Russell), the Director Social Care (Yvette Stanley) and the new lead for the local area inspection framework (Lee Owsten). The NNPCF already works closely with Yvette and both Chris and Lee agreed to meet and work with the NNPCF over the coming weeks and months. In particular, we will be feeding back on the implementation of the 2019 Education Inspection Framework and, of course, the development of the new local area inspection framework.

You can find a copy of the Ofsted report here: Ofsted Annual Report 2020/21: education, children’s services and skills – GOV.UK (

Education Support for CYP with SEND

School attendance for children and young people with SEND

Last week, we asked our member forums two key questions about the attendance of children and young people with SEND. We were able to use the results to share your views at the Department for Education’s Vulnerable Children’s Covid 19 Board and to the Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi who attended the first 20 minutes of the session.

NNPCF co-chairs Mrunal Sisodia and Tina Emery attend the DfE Vulnerable Children’s Covid 19 Board. The meeting considers the impact of Covid on vulnerable children and young people and how the government can support recovery. The board looks at different aspects of the impact of covid including attendance, educational attainment, mental health and safeguarding. Children and young people with SEND are regularly considered by the board and SEND remains high on the agenda.

At the board meeting last week, there was a particular focus on attendance. To prepare for this meeting, Mrunal and Tina asked forums two key questions about the attendance of children and young people with SEND through a flash survey of parent carer forums.

The results re-iterated the key messages that we have been hearing from member forums about the experiences of CYP with SEND this term. They describe families living with anxiety and mental health issues and often poor and inadequate support from services meaning that the needs of many children are not being met in settings.

The survey also gave some pointers about what needs to be done differently to change this. These included:

  • More reasonable adjustments
  • A more holistic focus on pupil well being
  • Better support for anxiety and
  • Improved coproduction with CYP and families

You see some of the representations we have made at this and other Covid 19 board on our website. Covid isn’t over for SEND families – the NNPCF’s continuing work on the pandemic – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C


School Uniforms and SEND

The NNPCF represents the views of SEND parents on a wide range of issues and topics – much of it, you may not be aware we participate in. One example is the recent guidance on school uniforms published by the Department for Education.

NNPCF co-chair, Tina Emery and Steering Member for the South East, Sarah Clarke were invited to contribute to the update of the School Uniform Guidance from the DfE.  Many issues were raised and discussed about how uniform policies impact our families and their children.

Main Key points added:

  • The difficulty of purchasing some non branded items.
  • Sensory issues – the need to consider reasonable adjustments and the Equalities Act for uniform rules.
  • Items which can be bought generically need to be widely available from a variety of stores.
  • Excessive PE kits – particularly the variety of footwear required.
  • Footwear in general – cost and sensory issues.
  • Coats – the importance of CYP’s being visible, particularly in winter, when travelling to and from school.

We were delighted to see that many of the points we raised were incorporated into the revised guidance.