NNPCF Steering Group meet with Minister on Schools White Paper

On Monday the NNPCF Steering Group met with Baroness Barran, the Minister for the Schools System on proposals for the schools’ white paper.

Forums feed back to us all the time about the issues that children and young people with SEND face in the current school system and the steering group relayed these messages to the Minister and talked about how schools needed to be more integrated into the SEND system. The points we raised included:

  • The fragmentation of the schools system with no clear accountability between local authorities, multi-academy trusts (MATs) and Regional Schools Commissioners leading to CYP with SEND falling through the cracks. Ros Luff, NNPCF steering group member for London said, “There can often be a disconnect between support partners such as between SENCOs & senior leaders, LA SEND & Social Care teams, or between LA’s & health partners and/or schools. When schools become academies the senior leaders may not be aware of all that has previously been delivered for SEND through the LA. There can be issues with having the local knowledge to secure appropriate timely support, along with loss of economies of scale.”
  • The need for better integration of MATs into local systems – particularly social care and health services and other support often provided via local authorities (e.g. educational psychology). Zara Bowden, West Midlands steering group member commented, “It’s important to remember that while there is complexity and fragmentation in our school system, this also applies to the wider system that supports our SEND communities. Maintained and non-maintained schools should work with local systems to support families and share information that can help the system improve. I was pleased the Minister understood and took on board the points we raised that reflect this, and how we see the opportunity ahead for this to be embedded as an expected standard practice, of course with space for co-production to happen at local and regional levels.”
  • Re-aligning incentives for school leaders with the SEND agenda – at present funding, league tables and inspections often do not focus enough on the needs of SEND
  • The need for a more holistic view of what success looks like for children and schools beyond academic just results.
  • The need for cultural change in schools when inclusion and diversity are valued by ALL schools and SEND is seen as important as the “core” subjects (e.g. by making sure that SEND is represented on school leadership teams). Fazilla Amide, steering group member for London said, “Changing structures and models are not as important as culture change: changing hearts and minds. It requires genuine co-production, great leadership, clear goals and excellent training and communications. We need people to understand why they need to change and what they need to do to get behind this to achieve the aims.”
  • Making sure that personalisation and local character are not lost in a drive for more standardisation

We also highlighted the cynicism that many SEND parents feel about academy trusts – the perception being that they are less inclusive and disadvantage CYP with SEND in pursuit of better academic results.

The Minister understood the points we made and recognised the need for the schools’ white paper, the SEND review and the social care review to be joined up in order to be successful.

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.

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

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.

consultations Education Ofsted

Ofsted’s consultation on the online education accreditation scheme

Ofsted have launched a new blog around quality assuring full time online education. The blog can be read here;

Quality assuring providers of full-time online education – Ofsted: schools, early years, further education and skills (

As part of this, they have also launched a consultation which seeks the views on how Ofsted should fulfil its role as the quality assurance body for the Department for Education (DfE)’s Online Education Accreditation Scheme.

The survey can be accessed here;

Open consultation overview: Consultation on Ofsted’s role in the Online Education Accreditation Scheme – GOV.UK (

Education Support for CYP with SEND Uncategorized

The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities launches PELICAN – Promoting Emotional Literacy in Children with Additional Needs.

The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities is delighted to be launching PELICAN – Promoting Emotional Literacy in Children with Additional Needs.

Pelican is a set of free web-based materials for children and young people with complex learning needs and or learning disabilities and people who support them.

Pelican helps staff, parents and carers to develop emotional literacy, wellbeing and resilience in children with learning disabilities and autism. Peli and Tou introduce you to the PELICAN framework through a simple visual  story. Peli is scared to fly but Tou is on hand to help.

This is a much needed resource that supports teachers and parents to support children with additional needs.

Covid-19 Education

NNPCF representations on catch-up learning

In the last few weeks there has been a lot of comment in the press about how children and young people who have missed out on school and learning over the last year will be supported to catch up. Some of the ideas that have been discussed include summer schools, extending the school day and making terms longer by two weeks.

There are three broad areas of focus for catch up – these are:

· The quality of education

· More teaching time for children

· Curriculum

At the start of the new year, the NNPCF asked parent carer forums for their views on how well the catch-up funding announced by the government last year was being deployed in their area. Based on your feedback we have made the following representations to the government on this matter:

1. There has been a huge variability of experience for children and a “one size fits all” approach is not appropriate. The impact of lock down has been very different for each child and family.

For example, some children with SEND have been in school whilst the majority have not. The quality of remote education for children with SEND has been very variable – some schools have provided training for parents, pre-learning for children, used break out rooms in video conferencing tools to provide 1:1 support and have sent specialist materials and equipment home. Other schools have not differentiated their offer for SEND at all and are just sending out links to Oak academy or BBC Bitesize lessons. Moreover, some children have adapted well to remote learning whereas many more have struggled without the clear structure and support offered by school.

2. Any catch-up must be holistic and not just academic. Children have not just lost a year of learning, many have lost a year of their childhood including the physical, mental, emotional and social development that they would have enjoyed. These factors are amplified for children with

SEND and a focus on mental health and therapy services is essential in any catch-up proposal. Absent this, many children will not be ready to learn because of the broader impact of lockdown on their well-being.

3. Any schemes to offer additional teaching time must be structured in a way that will be appealing and accessible to children with SEND. For example, extending the school day may provide challenges for some children with SEND and summer school may not be possible or attractive for many families. We have asked the DfE to look at a wider range of providers for example sports schemes and summer respite schemes to see if additional funding can be used to make these activities (many of which are targeted at children and young people with SEND) a part of a holistic catch-up programme.

4. Coproduction – any catch-up programme should be coproduced with individual families to make sure that what is offered meets their particular needs. In addition, parent carer forums should be involved in designing local area solutions to catch up and helping to determine how money can be spent most effectively. We have seen excellent examples of PCFs coproducing creative solutions to supporting SEND catch up in some local areas.

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.