Categories
Education NNPCF work Parent Carer Forums

Children’s Commissioner’s Attendance Audit

Earlier this week, the Children’s Commissioner published her report ‘The Voices of England’s Missing Children‘ – an audit into attendance in England’s schools.

Whilst identifying some of the issues surrounding school attendance and the challenges thrown up by experiences of many during the covid pandemic, the report calls for 100% of children to be back in school at the start of the new school year in September. Perhaps best regarded as a “call to action”, this will be impossible to achieve between now and September and carries significant risks for children and young people with SEND.

If the schools’ system focuses crudely on attendance, the wrong solutions will be pursued and punitive measures used to coerce families to make their children attend school when they are not ready, not properly supported, enrolled in an appropriate setting or in some cases not even assigned to any school. The report has its sights only on school attendance, not the very valid
reasons why many children are not attending school and the steps necessary to support schools and families in getting a child into school – for example a whole school approach or the strategies adopted by the autism in schools project

The report lays out six recommendations for the system relating to attendance covering a wide range of reasons why children may be out of school from exclusions to children who cannot attend because of caring responsibilities at home. We are very supportive of some of the recommendations in the report,
most notably the recommendation that decisions about children’s education need to be made “with children, their families and other adults in their lives.”

However, we have serious concerns about other aspects of the report:

  • Whilst we agree that school is the right place for the majority of children, for some children this is only true if they have access to the right school and / or the right support. The shortage of suitable school places means that many children with SEND are not in the right environment and the well documented issues with the SEND system mean that even those that struggle because they cannot access the right support from education, health and social care services.
  • The report talks about “exclusion as a trigger for intervention” – this is far too late. By the time a child is excluded, the damage is done. The NNPCF have consistently argued for a clearer framework that guarantees early intervention when families identify concerns – NOT when a child reaches crisis point. This principle has formed the basis of our input into the SEND review.
  • The report asks for school leaders to have a “relentless focus on attendance”. This puts the cart before the horse. All system leaders, school, health and social care need to have a relentless focus on the right support – for many children, poor attendance at school is a symptom of poor support. Moreover, additional pressure on children to attend when they are not able to will do nothing but further damage relationships between schools and families and amplify any existing anxieties children may have.
  • Throughout the report, the emphasis seems to be on the child and family to change with little attention given for the need for the school or health and social care services to change, make reasonable adjustments or step up earlier to provide the right support. The Equalities Act is unequivocal that schools must not disadvantage children with protected characteristics, sadly too many do just that

For more of our representations on school attendance see Attendance, behaviour and exclusions – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C

Categories
Health and Wellbeing NNPCF work Parent Carer Forums

Mental health and wellbeing survey launched.

The mental health and wellbeing of both our parent carer forum members and their children and young people with SEND is a priority for us, the NNPCF.

We are acutely aware of the impact that the COVID pandemic has had on everyone, especially parent carers.

We have created a survey to help inform our future work and to advise our response to the call for evidence to develop a new cross-government, 10-year plan for mental health and wellbeing for England.

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/XJDWLW3

The survey is two parts and will take around 15 minutes to complete.

The survey is open until 23 June 2022.

Categories
consultations Department for Education Education NNPCF work Parent Carer Forums SEND Review

NNPCF launch SEND Green Paper consultation survey for all parent carers.

The NNPCF have recently launched their parent carer survey on the SEND and Alternative Provision Green Paper consultation.

They hope to collect as many responses as possible from all parent carers, not just those who are involved in their local parent carer forums.

The responses of the survey will help to inform the NNPCF’s own response to the SEND Green Paper consultation.

Co-chairs Tina Emery and Mrunal Sisodia stated that, “The Green Paper is an opportunity to reset the SEND system after the 2014 reforms failed to deliver the improvements that families of children with SEND so desperately need. It is vital that every parent carer’s voice is heard and so we have launched a short, simple survey to gather parental views that we will use to inform our response to the Green Paper. We will, of course, also publish the survey results.”

You can complete the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/J63QX22

The survey should take no more than 10-15 minutes to complete and remains open until the 30 June.

Categories
Bills and legislations Department for Education Education NNPCF work Parent Carer Forums SEND Review

The SEND Green Paper: NNPCF briefing

What does it say and what does the NNPCF think about it?

The NNPCF co-chairs, Tina Emery and Mrunal Sisodia held a briefing on the contents of the long-awaited SEND and Alternative Provision Green Paper consultation for parent carer forums on 23 May.

A recording of the session can now be viewed by following the links below:

YouTube recording of the briefing

Slides from the briefing

Mentimeter survey results

The NNPCF have also published their parent carer survey.

They hope to collect as many responses as possible from all parent carers, not just those who are involved in their local parent carer forums.

The responses of the survey will help to inform the NNPCF’s own response to the SEND Green Paper consultation.

Co-chairs Tina Emery and Mrunal Sisodia stated that, “The Green Paper is an opportunity to reset the SEND system after the 2014 reforms failed to deliver the improvements that families of children with SEND so desperately need. It is vital that every parent carer’s voice is heard and so we have launched a short, simple survey to gather parental views that we will use to inform our response to the Green Paper. We will, of course, also publish the survey results.”

You can complete the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/J63QX22

The survey should take no more than 10-15 minutes to complete and remains open until the 30 June.

Categories
Care Quality Commision NNPCF work

Care Quality Commision (CQC) presentation 20/04/22

Attended by Tina Emery and Sarah Clarke

Prior to the meeting a quick mentimeter survey was sent out with questions to all forums, about the CQC’s role in the LA SEND Inspections and how forums understood the CQC’s role in the inspections.  A limited number of forums replied due to the Easter holidays, although 65 forums did respond.

The mentimeter survey clearly demonstrated a lack of consistency in forum involvement and understanding of the role of the CQC. Even following a Written Statement of Action (WSoA) and a revisit.

The presentation was received well and generated discussion around the consistency of forums involvement in the inspection process and how could the CQC improve forums understanding and communications between forums and CQC.

This was the first time that the NNPCF have been asked to present to the CQC and the feedback at the meeting was positive and likely to lead to additional coproduction work between the CQC and the NNPCF.

Categories
consultations Department for Education Education Minister for children and families Parent Carer Forums SEND Review

SEND Green Paper engagement events with the Department for Education and parent carer forums

The special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and alternative provision (AP) consultation was published at the end of March. The NNPCF have been working with the Green Paper team at the Department for Education (DfE) to organise a series of engagement events for parent carer forums to feedback and discuss the plans outlined in the Green Paper.

There are three different categories of events:

A national webinar hosted by NNPCF co-chairs Tina Emery and Mrunal Sisodia – 12 noon 23 May

At this event Mrunal and Tina will share the initial NNPCF response to the proposals. The session will step through the Green Paper outlining which proposals the NNPCF supports and which we have concerns about. The session will be interactive, and we will be seeking flash feedback from parent carer forums on their views of some of the proposals in the Green Paper. We will also outline the different ways that parent carer forums as well as individual parents can respond to the consultation and have their voices heard.

To sign up for this event please use the following link: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZModeCvrTwoGNUve-OwXisL0SQaUniHSchz

Regional events hosted by the Department for Education for Parent Carer Forums

The DfE Green Paper team will be attending NNPCF regional events to share the thinking behind the Green Paper and to have a discussion with regional parent carer groups about their thoughts on the proposals. In these sessions the DfE team will offer a short presentation of 20-30 minutes and then will take feedback and questions relating to the Green Paper for the rest of the hour. The objective of these sessions is to offer parent carer forums the opportunity to have frank and honest exchanges with the DfE team. The sessions will not be recorded due to confidentiality reasons.

The schedule of events is as follows:

RegionDateTimeVirtual or in person meeting
North East26 May11am – 12.30pmVirtual
North West   
Yorkshire and Humber24 May10amIn person York
West Midlands16 May1pmVirtual
East Midlands8 June10amVirtual
East of England12 May10am-2pmIn person – Cambridge
London
16 May 10am-12.30pmVirtual
South East20 May10am-12noonVirtual
South West10 May12:30pm-2pmVirtual (Teams)
Please note, any gaps to the table will be filled once confirmed by the DfE.
Details of how to join these meetings will be sent out through the usual regional parent carer forum channels.

National SEND review briefing hosted by Minister Will Quince

We are currently working with the DfE to organise a national webinar. This will give parent carer forums the opportunity to discuss and feedback to the DfE on the proposals set out in the Green Paper. Children and Families Minister Will Quince will host this event. Once the dates have been confirmed we will publish the webinar, with more information including how to register for the session.

Categories
Bills and legislations Parent Carer Forums

Down Syndrome Bill update April 2022

Article updated 02/05/22

What is the Down Syndrome Bill?

The Down Syndrome Bill is a private members bill sponsored by Dr Liam Fox MP and Baroness Hollins. The purpose of the Bill is to “Make provision about meeting the needs of persons with Down syndrome; and for connected purposes.”

The Bill stipulates:

”(1) The Secretary of State must give guidance to relevant authorities on steps it would be appropriate for them to take in order to meet the needs of persons with Down syndrome in the exercise of their relevant functions.

(2) Relevant authorities must have due regard to the guidance in the exercise of their relevant functions.

(3) Before giving the guidance the Secretary of State must consult such persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(4) The Secretary of State must publish the guidance in such manner as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.”

The Bill then stipulates what are relevant authorities; they include any public body that might provide services or support to people with Down Syndrome, except for welfare benefits.

Progress through Parliament

On 1 April 2022, the Bill passed the third reading in the House of Lords. As there were no amendments, the Bill is now in its final stages and will receive Royal Assent before the end of the current Parliamentary session, thereby becoming law – the Down Syndrome Act 2022.

The DS Bill is supported and championed in Parliament by 43 MPs and Lords who form the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Down Syndrome. Their current five priority areas are:

• maternity care

• education

• employment

• social care

• health care/research

Next Steps

It is expected that the statutory guidance to relevant authorities will be laid before Parliament in Spring 2023.

The National Down Syndrome Policy Group (NDSPG) support people with Down syndrome to have a say in the formation of policy in matters that impact their lives. NDSPG supporting bodies include 39 national and local organisations including Mencap, Down Syndrome Education International, Positive About Down Syndrome (PADS).

The NDSPG is one of several organisations that will be involved with the open consultation.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will facilitate the open consultation.

The consultation mandated by the Bill will inform the statutory guidance. This includes input by adults with Down Syndrome.

The Down Syndrome Association, who are committed to improving the quality of life for people who have Down syndrome, will be submitting their own response. You can find further information on their website:

https://www.downs-syndrome.org.uk/

info@downs-syndrome.org.uk

Details on how to get involved with the DHSC consultation will shared once published.

What does this mean for forums?

  • Forums should be aware of the Down Syndrome Bill and make their members aware of the proposed changes.
  • Forums may wish to respond to the consultation on statutory guidance (when published) or share their views with the NNPCF Consultation & Policy Lead to inform the NNPCF response.
  • Forums may wish to look in more detail at examples of good practice elsewhere and work with partners to develop a Down Syndrome pathway and improve local and practice and services.

Further information

The Down Syndrome Bill

The National Down Syndrome Policy Group

All Party Parliamentary Group – Down Syndrome

Categories
Department for Education NNPCF work SEND Review

SEND review – engagement opportunities for parent carer forums

The NNPCF steering group has been working with a variety of stakeholders to offer parent carers and forums the opportunity to be briefed and engage in the SEND Green Paper. This post updates you on what we are planning and how you can get involved.

The SEND review has been a long time in the making. It was originally launched in the summer of 2019. Delayed by general elections, government reshuffles and Covid 19, it represents an opportunity to reset and further reform the SEND system following the 2014 Children and Families Act.

The latest information we have suggests that the resultant SEND Green Paper will be published before the end of March. Although, this is subject to last minute change, we are hopeful that the conference will provide a platform for Ministers and the Department for Education to share the contents of the Green Paper just after its publication.

This post outlines this and other engagement opportunities we are planning to ensure that Parent Carer Forums are briefed and our voice is heard as clearly as possible through the Green Paper consultation process.

7th March 2022 – Children and Families Minister Will Quince will be presenting a webinar that is jointly hosted by the NNPCF, Special Needs Jungle, Contact and the Family Fund. The Minister will share some information about the work of the review and will answer some questions set by parents. NNPCF Cochair, Tina Emery will be one of the joint facilitators of this event. Booking details for this event were shared on Tuesday 1st March. All 200 places have already been taken. If you have booked and are unable to attend, please let us know so we can offer your place to someone else. Note: because this is BEFORE the publication of the Green Paper, we do not believe Minister Quince will be in a position to share details of its content.

23rd March – Minister Will Quince is booked to appear at the NNPCF / Contact virtual conference. We are hopeful that the Green Paper will have been published by this time and so Minister Quince will be able to comment on the details. If so, this will be one of the very first engagement events after its publication.

24th March – we are in the process of planning a full-blown engagement session with the Department for Education at the joint NNPCF / Contact conference. We are hopeful that the SEND review team will be able to join the session and it will be an opportunity for parent carer forums to give some early feedback on the contents of the Green Paper. At this session NNPCF cochairs Mrunal Sisodia and Tina Emery will also share their initial thoughts and response – to what extent does the paper incorporate the things that PCFs asked for?

Please look out for the conference booking link that will be circulated shortly to book onto these events.

Note: please be aware that all these plans are subject to change. As you know the SEND review has already been delayed many times and it is possible there may be further changes that are beyond our control.

After the above events, there will be other engagement events planned by the Department for Education. The schedule has not yet been finalised or published but we will share this with you as soon as we have further details.

In addition, we are planning a large parental survey to ensure that as many families as possible have the opportunity to input into the Green Paper proposals. To maximise its reach and ensure that the key messages are amplified, we are planning to coproduce and distribute the survey with other parental representative groups including Special Needs Jungle, Let us Learn Too and the Disabled Children’s Partnership.

Categories
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 consulation@nnpcf.org.uk.

Categories
Department for Education DfE guidance Minister for children and families NNPCF work

Powers of the SEND tribunal to make non-binding recommendations extended

The government has confirmed that the single route redress national trial will end in August (it had been extended because of Covid 19). In line with the recommendations of the trial, the government has confirmed that the powers of the tribunal to make non-binding recommendations on health and social care will continue. Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford has written to members of the Single Route of Redress Steering Group to confirm this decision and thank them for their efforts. We attach a copy of the letter;

The NNPCF has worked extensively on this project as a member of the steering group and outside. We have consistently argued that the powers of the tribunal to make judgements on health and social care services was necessary and a positive step towards increased accountability and protecting the rights of children with SEND. We also maintain that the judgements on health and social care should be made binding.

You can find more on our work on this topic here NNPCF work to improve accountability in the SEND system – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C