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Elaine Lambe appointed as NNPCF Director and new West Midlands steering group member

We are delighted to welcome Elaine Lambe as our new steering group member for the West Midlands.

Elaine is a member of the Warwickshire PCF and works within the West Midlands region. She is part her NCT regional team, doing national strategic work on their behalf.

NNPCF Co-Chair Tina Emery commented, “I am looking forward working with Elaine and the energy that she is going to bring to the Steering Group, coming from a relatively new forum and with her regional and national knowledge that she has from another national organisation.”

On her appointment Elaine said, “I am delighted to be joining the NNPCF Steering Group and continuing to make sure that the West Midlands forums feel connected to the National Network and that their voices are heard. It’s an exciting time for both the West Midlands Region and the NNPCF and I look to working together to make a difference to SEND families.”

Elaine replaces Zara Bowden who stepped down as the West Midlands representative after almost 7 years in the role (Zara Bowden to step down as NNPCF regional representative – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C).

Please join us in this opportunity to thank Zara again for all her hard work and to welcome Elaine to her new role.

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Open letter to parents from Minister Quince

The link below takes you to the open letter by the new Minister for children and families, Minister Quince.

An open letter to parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities from Children and Families Minister Will Quince – The Education Hub (blog.gov.uk)

The DfE have also set up a web page on the SEND review steering group.

SEND Review Steering Group – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

For some time now, the NNPCF has been working with parent carer forums to promote the voice of families and their children. The work we have done most recently are linked below

Latest developments on the SEND Review – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C (nnpcf.org.uk)

NNPCF work to improve accountability in the SEND system – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C

NNPCF conference gives SEND Review seven clear messages – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C

NNPCF engagement with the SEND Review – National Network of Parent Carer Forums C.I.C

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Jacqui Watt appointed new NNPCF Participation Lead

The NNPCF steering group are pleased to announce that Jacqui Watt from Swindon SEND Families Voice has been appointed our new participation lead. Jacqui has been chair of the Swindon Forum since January 2018 and has been an NNPCF national representative for the last year. Over the last 18 months the work of the NNPCF national representatives has been subdued as many of the ongoing projects and initiatives in government and the NHS were put on hold. Now as we recover from the pandemic, some of this work is restarting and new projects are coming on line and Jacqui will be working with the National Representatives team to re-engage with them and the vital work that they do.

Jacqui joins the NNPCF management team that is responsible for delivering the core work of the NNPCF. The management team consists of Richard Hobbs (Communications), Kay Moore (Policy and Consultations) and Claire Powers (Finance and Operations). The team work to deliver the strategy and priorities set by the NNPCF steering group.

Jacqui takes over from Lara Roberts who has been participation lead for the last 3 years. Prior to this, Lara was a member of the NNPCF steering group. We are delighted that Lara has the opportunity to build on the work she did at the NNPCF in her current role with the NHS. Lara has made a huge contribution to the development of the NNPCF – her character and charisma are stamped through the organisation and she will be sorely missed.

NNPCF cochairs Tina Emery and Mrunal Sisodia said, “Please join us in welcoming Jacqui to her new role. We are delighted that she will be joining the team and working with our fantastic national representatives. As we emerge from the extraordinary times of the pandemic, we hope our national representatives team will again form the backbone of the work of the NNPCF. We would also like to thank Lara Robert who did a remarkable job at the NNPCF both as a steering group member and as participation lead – the organisation just won’t feel the same without her input.”

Jacqui said, “I’m really excited to have been given the opportunity to build on the good work Lara has done, and can’t wait to get stuck into my new role!”

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A message from the NNPCF steering group.

An extraordinary 18 months

No-one could have anticipated what was to come in February 2020. We knew that the coming year would hold challenges and opportunities for parent carer forums – the shortfalls in services experienced by our children, the SEND review and the NHS Long Term Plan were quite enough to contend with. On top of this, the coronavirus pandemic added new harms for our children and exacerbated existing issues.

You have risen to the challenge

The work you have done through this period has been extraordinary. Forums have adapted to the new normal and laid on virtual coffee mornings, distributed information packs, offered peer support, signposted to essential services, conducted surveys. Most importantly you have kept shining a spotlight on the issues – from children with SEND being denied school places to the unilateral closure of many essential respite services. It is even more remarkable that you did this whilst caring for and home schooling your children.

But it was your work that enabled the NNPCF to make essential changes to the response to the pandemic, such as changing lockdown guidance to better support young people with SEND (e.g. being able to go out more than once a day); enabling catch up funding for schools to be spent on SEND specific services such as therapies; and ensuring that return to school guidance emphasised holistic wellbeing rather that behaviour and attendance.

The value of forums has been recognised

Forums have grown in stature, prominence and influence over the year. The value you add has been recognised in the increase in funding offered by the DfE for the coming year. The NNPCF is joining more senior boards and has had more opportunities to represent your views than ever before.

But we know the future is going to be tough

However, we all know that many of our children have had a terrible time and we will face new challenges. The old issues in the SEND system have not gone away and new ones have emerged. The SEND review and the NHS Long Term Plan remain priorities.

Thank you

We are incredibly proud to represent such a passionate, knowledgeable and dedicated group of people. Without your hard work, the NNPCF would not have been able to make the difference we have.

Our children will need your energy and focus over the coming term so please take the opportunity to have a well-earned break from forum work over the summer holidays.

We hope you get the break you deserve.

Thank you and see you in the autumn.

The NNPCF Steering group

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Covid 19 vaccinations for children – an update

Following yesterday’s announcement, NNPCF were invited to attend a meeting today with representatives from the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) , NHSE, DfE & other stakeholders regarding the Covid -19 vaccination offer to some cohorts of Children and Young People (CYP).

We sought clarification of which cohorts of CYP would be eligible for the vaccination, and how families would be informed.

The vaccine will be offered to the following groups of CYP in England:

CYP at high risk themselves* (ages 12-15)

CYP living in immunosuppressed households (ages 12-15)

YP aged between 17.9 yrs. and 18yrs.

Young people aged 16 and 17 who are at higher risk of Covid 19 will continue to be offered the vaccine.

*This cohort is stated as those with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities. This list is dynamic and as such will be under constant review based upon evidence collected.

Information to contact these cohorts with be taken from health records data and invites will be sent out via either GP or the NHS route. The invite to book the vaccination should be sent out before the end of August. As with all decisions it was made clear that this should be undertaken in co-production with CYP and their parent carers.

If you or your members have any questions about their eligibility, they should contact their GP or paediatrician.

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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.

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Guidance for Parent Carer Forums on January national lockdown

With new national lockdown measures announced at 8pm on Monday 4th January we felt it appropriate to update our member Parent Carer Forums, and their communities, on what we can now do in this current climate to promote best practice locally and continue to champion coproduction and person centre approaches.

The NNPCF Steering Group have compiled the below document to share our current thoughts and provide clarity on where we will continue to share Parent Carer Forums experiences and insights to inform and influence national policy and decision making moving forward.

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January Schools opening guidance – some points to note for special needs pupils

Yesterday the government released updated guidance on the opening of schools in January.

You can find the latest guidance here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-contingency-framework-for-education-and-childcare-settings

Headlines for children and young people with SEND are. You will see in green italics, those areas in which we are seeking further clarification:

  • Return dates for primary and secondary schools & colleges in England
    • 4 Jan – majority of primary schools start returning
    • 4 Jan – secondary schools and colleges to provide remote education for exam years and face to face for education for vulnerable and critical worker children (this includes children with an EHCP)
    • 11 Jan – face to face education for exam years and vulnerable and critical worker children and remote learning for other secondary school and college years
    • 18 Jan – secondary school and college students return for face-to-face education
  • All pupils in special schools are able to attend from the week commencing 4 January. There is some limited flexibility to stagger returns in these settings where it is necessary to allow special schools to prepare for testing to begin from 11 January.
  • All vulnerable children in secondary schools will have a place from 4th January
  • In some areas all children of primary age will receive a remote education – for a list of these areas see the DfE guidance. We are seeking clarification of whether this includes vulnerable children and children of key workers.
  • Wearing of masks will be required in school for children in year 7 onwards. We are seeking clarification of exceptions for children for whom this may be difficult or impossible and reasonable adjustments may be required.
  • We are also seeking clarification of whether it will be mandatory for vulnerable children (including those with an EHCP) to attend school. We have asked that the DfE make clear that an decision about attendance at school must take into account the particular needs of the child / young person and their family and be coproduced with them. Places should be available for all vulnerable children but attendance should not be mandatory (e.g. where it would increase a young person’s anxiety or perhaps lead to bullying).
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Season’s greetings from the NNPCF steering group

As a year like no other draws to the close, we would like to take the opportunity to reflect over the work of forums and the NNPCF over the last few months.

Covid 19 remains a huge concern

The pace of 2020 has been relentless. We know that the demands on forums have been greater and more sustained than ever before. As we look back on the last term, it is the response to Covid 19 that again dominates our work. Since schools returned, we have participated in regular conversations with the Department for Education to relay the experiences of families with SEND to them. You can find our key messages in our updates posted in September, October and November:

Your back to school experiences – NNPCF Steering Group brief Minister Vicky Ford | NNPCF

NNPCF cochairs meet with new Department for Education Permanent Secretary | NNPCF

Sector leaders feedback to Minister Vicky Ford on what the latest lockdown means for children and young people with SEND | NNPCF

Despite this, the recovery from covid is only just starting and we have huge amounts of work to do to minimise the existing and future impacts on children and families with SEND.

But its not just Covid that we have been working on

Whilst Covid 19 has dominated our agenda again, the problems that were obvious in the SEND system before then pandemic have not gone away and have been exacerbated by Covid in many ways. we have also been engaged in several other major pieces of work. These include:

  • Engaged regularly with the SEND review to provide solutions to some of the most difficult issues in the SEND system. Look out for an NNPCF webinar on this in the new year.
  • NNPCF regions and local forums have supported the NHSE Learning Disability and /or Autism team with their regional roll out of the Key working pilots
  • NNPCF regions have also been invited to work with NHSE to support their work on Tier 4 admissions avoidance for children.
  • We submitted evidence to and appeared before the Education Parliamentary Select Committee on home education. Education Committee Inquiry into Home Education | NNPCF
  • And most recently, we responded to the call for evidence from the Work and Pensions Parliamentary Select Committee on the disability employment gap.

As ever, we could not have done this without you – it was your responses to surveys on Home Education and the Disability Employment Gap that allowed us to submit such strong responses to the parliamentary select committees and your regional and local networks that made the work with NHSE possible.

Another very different conference

And in amongst all of this we managed to put on a very different conference with our partners from Contact. With great keynotes from Professor Russell Viner the president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Sue North and Ray James the Learning Disability and Autism leads from NHSE and messages from not one, but two Ministers, our conference was a busy week. Moreover, there were great sessions on topics chosen by you on mental health, running a forum and supported employment. The school exclusions team were hugely impressed with the feedback from members at their workshop and plan to meet with forums again in the Spring when they will be revising exclusions guidance.

1000 members attended our sessions as they were broadcast and we know that many more of you will watch them back over the coming weeks from the conference website. Contact & NNPCF first virtual national parent carer forums’ conference 2020 | Contact

Looking forward

So, it is fair to say that 2020 has been an incredible year – a year of hardship and loss but also one in which parent carer forums have shown their resilience, creativity and value time and time again. During the response to Covid 19 that eviscerated so many of the services that SEND families rely upon, forums have risen to the challenge and supported and represented their communities. The intelligence you have provided us has enabled the NNPCF to make sure that the lived experience of our children is heard by leaders across regional and national government and the NHS.

Next year will bring its own share of issues and opportunities. Despite all of your efforts, we know that the prospects for our children are more difficult than ever. We are already looking ahead to making sure that the voice of parent carers is represented in the following priority areas:

Yet again, we will rely upon your knowledge, experience and wisdom as we undertake this work.

It is with this in mind that we say thank you for all of your efforts this year and wish you a very happy holiday season. Please make sure that you take time off over the break, you have all earnt it.

We will; see you in the new year refreshed and ready to carry on our crucial work.

The NNPCF Steering group

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January Schools opening guidance – some points to note for special needs pupils

17 December 2020

See government guidance Schools and childcare settings: return in January 2021 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Today the government announced that the physical return to school in January for secondary school pupils will be staggered from the 4th of January to the 11th of January. Education will be provided remotely during this period.

All students in primary, special and alternative provision schools and colleges will return at their usual start of term.

Students in exam year groups, vulnerable children and children of critical workers will all attend school or college in person from the start of term. The definition of “vulnerable” for these purposes includes children with EHCPs. Unlike in the first lockdown, the availability of a school place will not be dependent upon a risk assessment for vulnerable pupils. All vulnerable pupils will be able to attend school.

We have asked for clarification of attendance expectations for vulnerable children in year groups that are out of school for this week – we have requested that in these cases parents be allowed to make a choice based on the needs of the family and the child as to whether their vulnerable child attends school or not.

(Please note that this is different to the definition of “clinically extremely vulnerable” for shielding purposes)

Lateral flow Covid 19 testing will be rolled out to staff in secondary schools and secondary age pupils (including those in specialist and AP settings).

Testing will not be mandatory and parental permission will be required. Students who receive positive test results will be asked to retest in 3 days and will be required to self-isolate in line with existing guidance

If a child is unable or unwilling to take a test, this will not impact their return to school with other pupils.