Accountability and the SEN reforms: SNJ asks the Minister, Ed Timpson (Part 1)

Tania, Ed Timpson, RenataAs regular readers will know, Renata and I went along to the Department of Education recently to interview the Minister responsible for Special Educational Needs, Ed Timpson.

This week we're going to bring you the interview in three parts, all being well, and today is the first part, focusing on accountability, something of concern to many families.

Who makes sure that local authorities are doing what they are supposed to do? Take a look and then let us know what you think in the comments.

So, you've seen the first part of our video, what are your views about accountability and the new English SEN system?

In the coming days we'll be publishing the other two sections of the video interview covering different topics. Make sure you sign up so you don't miss them!

Tania Tirraoro


  1. Anthony Davies

    The aims and objectives of the reforms, along with Ed Timpson’s personal approach are admirable. However despite the increased accountability that should be present in the new system, our local council and their staff through to the top, along with our elected representatives still do not realise that there is a fundamental change going on. We have fought for months to get speedy progress, but the council still fully supports an early, non evidenced based statement that there were no ‘Educational Needs’, further that, it turns out, that they only considered that a ‘Request’ was only legitimate when issued by the school along with all the documentation gathered during the ‘information gathering stage’.

    Despite engaging directly with support agencies, they have not been forthright in supporting us, even when there is a clear evidence trail. I for one don’t see our council changing its ways, and my goodness, the battles that parents of SEN children have to face on an ongoing basis, due in so many cases to councils that are only looking to protect their budget, or the way they are used to doing things is highly regrettable.

    I hope that these lines of accountability get to be clarified and given a whole lot more teeth, protection and influence – They need it.

  2. I like the idea that the accountability will also stretch to the ‘spirit’ rather than just following legal procedures. I’m also concerned about how feedback will make it to the top and what actions will then be taken – I’m still hearing more unhappy than positive feedback from parents in our county, particularly about refusal to assess in the first place.

  3. Eva

    I work for a parent carer forum but nobody has given us contact details for these new “SEN advisors” Ed Timpson mentions in the interview. How about encouraging them to make contact with parent carer forums?

  4. Gillian WT

    How do we find out who these SEN Advisors are? It would be really good if parents (individually or through the Parent Carer Forums) were able to have direct contact with them. Not surprisingly many local authority staff do not appear to have sufficient training in the law and culture change is limited so far. There is some evidence in my LA that the transfer process will be used to reduce the number of children with Statements/Plans and also reduce the provision set out in them. For those parents going through the process at these early stages the experience remains stressful.

  5. Anthony Davies

    Parents have the right to request an assessment of special educational need. It isn’t down to the school to refuse, neither is it the case that a school should prepare all the supporting evidence prior to the council accepting this ‘request’. From our experience the councils are perfectly willing to misrepresent the rules of the game. I’ve pretty much lost patience with our council. As for SEN Advisors even they are a very mixed bag, the common theme seems to be a pretty thorough disconnect between the wholly honourable intentions of the legislation versus councils and the deeply entrenched disrespect, condescension and whole hearted mistrust of us parents – especially if we dare to escalate our grievances however well based.

  6. Sam Scanlon

    firstly you guys are AMAZING :). The MP’s and LA’s however hummm…. It sounds good, and our transfer is on hold due to appeal, BUT I have been delving into this and a lot of the parents in my support group are going through transition or trying to get ECH plans in place. I dont think there are 2 LA’s that have been given the same information I am starting to wonder if they all got sent on different courses intentionally ? the most common things to pop up are “loosing support as EHC plans are harder to get” “They are harder to get full stop” “the child dont fit the criteria ” “thats medical not educational needs” & visa versa and so many kids have had nothing regarding sen support since school action / + has stopped, was this wonder of a new system not years in the making so this did not happen ? The whole “Listening to parents” was also in the old code of practice and they did not do it then either, the application process aint really any different from what they were supposed to do before and again they didnt do it then. The only thing that is clearly transparent is the paper they have written the legislation on. I would really like to know who these MP’s are talking to to get such Great Feed back ? contact a family and the parent carer forums what is the feed back from them ? what are the facts and figures regarding the complete mess thats going on ? So I prob missed it but who exactly IS ACCOUNTABLE ?/ as OFSTEAD refuse to deal with individual issues, the forums and helplines are not accountable, Is it the Medical professional needing to issue diagnosis to be able to access the correct provision ? is it the LA’s to ensure all staff are properly looking at every single individual child and their needs ? is it the heads ? the sencos ? All of which are still quoting the “its not our decision”

  7. Colette Lloyd

    So still no way to let the government know how the local authority are messing up the implementation of what should have been a good policy. Parent carer forum in same offices as local authority. Independent advisors non existent, SEN advisors non-contactable by mere mortals. On the bright side, maybe the total disregard for the law on the part of the local authority, will mean that the judge will look kindly on our case. Off to Tribunal we go, ho ho! (Well once we have managed to get a final EHCP out of Oxfordshire that is, already 4 weeks past the legal deadline and counting….)

  8. Colette Lloyd

    Update to last post – 8 weeks over LEGAL deadline, still counting, still no accountability or consequences for a policy decision that has caused the delay that was directly opposed to Ed Timpsons schedules for prioritisation. Argh. Don’t believe in the existence of these SEN advisors any more, or if they do exist, they are as useful as a chocolate teapot, and I bet they cost a lot more!

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