Edward Timpson and Jane Ellison: “Our reforms are boosting the life chances of children with SEND”

As parent carers we often measure our successes in the little victories we achieve on a day to day basis. They may not seem significant to some, but to us they are milestones that serve to remind us that as a result of our hard work, we are taking steps forwards, however small those steps may be.

The post I am going to share with you today is one of those landmark moments that could pass you by unnoticed if no one tapped you on the shoulder and pointed it out. It actually marks a very important milestone that has been many years and many meetings in the making.

Tania Tirraoro and Edward TimpsonAs any regular readers of Special Needs Jungle will know, Tania and Edward Timpson have seen rather a lot of each other over the years. During this time Tania has challenged, supported, advised, scolded and collaborated with the Department for Education in order to make sure that the views of parent carers, children and young people are not lost from the decision making process. More recently we have been trying to engage with Health in the same way and were delighted to meet with Jane Ellison in March of this year. During that meeting we spoke about the importance of Health and Education working together, as in the real worlJane Ellisond our children's health needs do not stop when they walk into school and their educational needs are directly affected by their health conditions. We even went as far as suggesting that Edward Timpson and Jane Ellison might want to think about getting together sometime and having a talk about it, after all, it might just be mutually beneficial.

So imagine my delight when Tania broke the news that 1. The Department for Education had approached her asking if she would publish a blog post for them and 2. The blog post was being written collaboratively by Edward Timpson and Jane Ellison.

This, my friends, is a milestone that should be recognised. I want to believe that Jane Ellison is acting directly on the advice we gave her. That she took on board that parent carers want to see Health and Education starting to work and communicate collaboratively on issues around the SEND Reforms. We might even allow ourselves to believe that we are witnessing the Ministers in Health and Education beginning to recognise that in order to deliver joined up services for disabled children, they need to understand how their own services directly influence the ability of the other services to work effectively. Now we just need to invite Social Care to the party!

And so without further ado, here is what Edward Timpson and Jane Ellison want to tell you about the SEND reforms...

[Be sure to leave your comments below rather than on social media if you want to give the Ministers your feedback.]

 


Edward Timpson and Jane Ellison Quote

 

Every parent wants to see their child happy, confident, doing well at school and on track to becoming a successful, secure adult. They desire academic success, rewarding careers, and place value on loyal friendships and time to pursue hobbies.

At the heart of every parent’s dream for their child is the ambition that they have the same life chances as any other, regardless of the individual challenges they face or the obstacles they must overcome.

As lead ministers for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), our ambition is just that. Our vision is that these children have dreams as big as any other young person, and aspirations that are just as high. That’s why we’ve made fundamental changes to the way the SEND support system works for families, the biggest in a generation, placing them at the heart of the process and working hard to ensure their views are taken into account throughout.

In the past few months, we have both sat down separately with parents like you to find out what’s working, and what isn’t. We have discussed the challenges of implementing the new framework for SEND across education, social care and health and the daily challenges you face supporting a child with special educational needs or a disability.

We know there is still a long way to go to deliver a system that works smoothly, in the coordinated way it is intended, but your insight and experiences are invaluable in helping us achieve this. Meeting with families like you ensures that our work remains focused and we want to continue these regular meetings.

But we should all be proud of what has been achieved over the last few years and we are both heartened by the support we have received from everyone involved.

Moreover, we are getting hugely encouraging feedback from parents of children with SEND who say the new system is making a real and lasting difference to them. A few weeks ago, we published a report which investigated the experiences of some of the families going through the process of getting an Education Health and Care (EHC) plan. They told us that they like many of the principles in the reforms and overall are satisfied with the new approach. They also highlighted areas needing improvement, and their personal stories have been a valuable tool for councils to improve the service they provide. It’s also vital that we strike the right balance between timing of assessment and quality of the finished plan, something we know varies considerably across the country.

This kind of feedback is vital to give us a richer understanding of where we, and all other agencies involved in this radical system change, need to work harder.

And today we have published new figures which will help direct this work. Data collection like this is an essential part of assessing progress. This, together with the work of our team of SEND advisers and findings from the new Ofsted and CQC local area SEND inspections, will help target the support and challenge we give to councils.

We are already seeing many examples of great practice, delivered with real enthusiasm – such as in York, where the importance they place on good communication is supporting families through the system in a sympathetic way, and has seen more than 90% of new plans completed within 20 weeks.

The data put out today shows some really positive stories emerging. For the first time, we have collected and published the rate of recruitment of Designated Clinical Officers (DCO), who act as a key link between health professionals and other partners. It’s great to see that 147 council areas (97%) now have these in place. Indeed, we are seeing fantastic progress in some areas, such as in Kingston & Richmond’s SEND Family Voices scheme, where parent-carers are involved in key decision-making and support Kingston Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in commissioning its community paediatrics services.

A fundamental part of the reforms was to ensure that where required, young people have the same legal protections all the way through to age 25 – and today’s data bears out this fundamental point: 19 to 25-year-olds who need that extra bit of time in education are now receiving EHC plans, and are being supported all the way to adulthood.

Throughout this process it’s been clear, through our meetings with families like you, that the people involved truly want these reforms to work - but we know this is a steep learning curve. Councils are still learning new ways of working, and these will become routine in time.

Our network of Independent Supporters, into which we are investing £45 million between 2014 and 2017, are proving to be a catalyst for this change – they are helping embed the reforms, creating positive, powerful relationships with families, like you, who are accessing support. It’s encouraging to see the impact these individuals are having on children and young people with SEND - the very people who are at the heart of our work.

The job is not yet done – but there are clear signs that we are on track. We know what we have to do to keep things moving forward. The progress that has been made is thanks to the enormous dedication of all involved, and the candid insight you provide to continually challenge us.

Today, 74,000 children and young people with SEND are in possession of an EHC plan – a vital step in boosting their life chances. We can all be rightly proud of how far we’ve come. And in doing so we must remain resolute in our drive and determination to see the new SEND system, whether in education, heath or social care, become a springboard to a successful and happy life.

Edward Timpson DfE SEND Reforms

 

Edward Timpson, Minister of State for Children and Families

 

 

 

Jane Ellison Dept of Health SEND reforms

 

Jane Ellison, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health

 


 

So do you agree with the Ministers' views on the SEND Reforms, or do you think they need a reality check? Make sure you take the time to share your views and experiences in the comments below!

Renata Blower
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Renata Blower

Parent Advocate/Blogger at Just Bring The Chocolate
Renata is a special needs blogger at Just Bring The Chocolate. She is the parent of three children. Her elder son has Asperger's syndrome and added extras and Dominic, her youngest child, has an undiagnosed genetic neuromuscular condition that means he has complex medical issues and is a full time wheelchair user. She also has a very patient and slightly neglected daughter.
Renata Blower
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  • Twinsplustwo

    Unfortunately whilst I appreciate the child focussed strength of the new system, and that the EHCP is a less static, more time relevant document, it’s hugely over-optimistic to call it an Education, HEALTH and Care Plan because there is no statutory requirement for Health to be involved, at least in the writing of the document. My second son has complex needs and multiple diagnoses, he sees (currently) 6 consultants and yet NOT ONE provided a report for the Transfer Review. This is partly because they are too busy, some are not permitted to leave their workplace (physio and community paeds) to attend such meetings and some have yet to meet him (yes, we’ve had more changes to consultants and health professionals than hot dinners in recent months with almost no continuity). Those who would advocate best for him (and I say “would” not “could” as they are MORE than willing but hands are tied) have had to discharge him because we are limited to a set number of appointments and if we need more we have to be re-referred in. We are lucky – incredibly lucky, he receives excellent support in school, but it’s a 100% “School-providing-support” Plan whilst working closely with us. I can’t help wondering what the situation might be if I were not able to advocate for him effectively, if the school had other priorities or if anyone challenged my version of his situation – because health never provide reports for this process.

  • Twinsplustwo

    Unfortunately whilst I appreciate the child focussed strength of the new system, and that the EHCP is a less static, more time relevant document, it’s hugely over-optimistic to call it an Education, HEALTH and Care Plan because there is no statutory requirement for Health to be involved, at least in the writing of the document. My second son has complex needs and multiple diagnoses, he sees (currently) 6 consultants and yet NOT ONE provided a report for the Transfer Review. This is partly because they are too busy, some are not permitted to leave their workplace (physio and community paeds) to attend such meetings and some have yet to meet him (yes, we’ve had more changes to consultants and health professionals than hot dinners in recent months with almost no continuity). Those who would advocate best for him (and I say “would” not “could” as they are MORE than willing but hands are tied) have had to discharge him because we are limited to a set number of appointments and if we need more we have to be re-referred in. We are lucky – incredibly lucky, he receives excellent support in school, but it’s a 100% “School-providing-support” Plan whilst working closely with us. I can’t help wondering what the situation might be if I were not able to advocate for him effectively, if the school had other priorities or if anyone challenged my version of his situation – because health never provide reports for this process.

    • Being too busy is not a good enough excuse, the SEN officer should have been chasing them to produce reports, or to send reports that had been written from the last appointment. Did you get to see a Designated Medical Officer, they should be providing a health over view, but I know there have been a lot of issues around accessing them? It’s great that the school is doing such a good job at listening to you and working with you though. Lets hope that no one leaves and rocks the boat!

      • Twinsplustwo

        Didn’t even know such a role existed! It was just a regular annual review with new paperwork and a lengthy report for me to write :S

  • Heather payne

    My son has got dysprexia and sensory disorder he is due to start secondary school in September and he wanted to go to a school that is 6 miles away from home not the school that is 2 miles away because the kids that have been bullying him at primary school are going there and because of this wiltshire council are refusing to transport him there even know he’s intitled to it even know they have 3 reports from different professionals stating that he can not get himself there as it wouldn’t be safe to let him get a bus they still want him to travel to school by himself for a sake of 4 miles difference in schools how is that fair. So for him to get transport I have to send him to a school to get bullied . It’s all totally disgusting

    • What does your LA’s Home to School Transport policy say are the criteria? It sounds like you could appeal the decision, but there might be a time constraint on how quickly you need to do it, it certainly sounds like you should try. It is not in any child’s best interests to be bullied. I really hope you get it sorted.

  • deanne lodge

    Ed and Jane..I hope you don’t mind me being on first name terms with you…if it shows lack of respect I offer no apology because the lack of respect my daughter, my husband and I have been exposed to is beyond reprehensible, and all because of your new reforms – that were rushed through – and because LA’s are not being held accountable. The only way to fight this unjust, messed up system is to spend money – that, by the way, families with SEND children don’t usually have an abundance of because usually one of the parents has to be a stay at home caring for all of £62 a week – and so the pressure us families are put under is incomprehensible. All to get what our children are entitled to; a suitable education. There is no justice in the system, the LA’s are continuously acting unreasonable but yet nothing is done about it, the tribunal system is awash with cases and Ed and Jane, you have the audacity to state that “Our reforms are boosting the life chances of children with SEND”…!!! Sit down and spend a day with me, with my daughter, who is judged because she is in a wheelchair and non-verbal and I will very clearly show you how your reforms are no where near boosting my daughters life chances. Apparently she doesn’t deserve the money being spent on her, she’s just another number and what are her future prospects anyway… so how the hell is this boosting her life chances. What the hell does “boosting the life chances of children with SEND” even mean??? I will happily direct you to what is boosting the life chances of children with SEND; parents, therapists, charities, hospitals, consultants. NOT the government and your messed up, prejudiced reforms and not the education system. Ed and Jane, you should be throughly ashamed of yourselves and hang your heads in shame. You are failing children and families and it is so utterly demoralising I can not for one minute believe you have spent any time with the people that matter. You state “At the heart of every parent’s dream for their child is the ambition that they have the same life chances as any other, regardless of the individual challenges they face or the obstacles they must overcome. As lead ministers for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), our ambition is just that.” If this is the case why are transport costs being thrown into the ring? Why is transport for post 16 education differing from LA to LA, putting pressure on parents to have to pay for this service or transport themselves?? All to save money, the government are supporting children being placed in unsuitable schools that are cheaper, where the distance is shorter to save on transport costs. Why don’t you invest the £45 million into helping get our children to the schools that meet their needs? Sorry Ed, but your network of Independent Supporters aren’t worth the paper they dish out in pretty pamphlets. Why? Because they do not have clear guidance to understanding the law and they do not have the power to hold LA’s accountable. You also state that today, 74,000 children and young people with SEND are in possession of an EHC plan. How many of those plans are being appealed? How many of those plans are worth anything? Don’t be proud of pushing through reforms and inadequate EHCP’s, Ed. This is not what this is about. I will happily meet you and spend a day going through my case with you and highlighting how your reforms are not boosting the life opportunities of children with SEND. Your reforms are crippling families, breaking us, pushing us to the brink of no return by reducing our children’s rights to a suitable education. If you think spending some time with me will help I look forward to hearing from you. Yours, Deanne Lodge.

    • It sounds like you’ve had a truly terrible time Deanne. I agree that money (or the lack of it) is a huge issue and seriously affects a LA’s ability and willingness to identify and meet children with SEND’s needs. Hopefully the new OFSTED inspections will have an impact on LAs that are really failing families. Have you contacted your local parent carer forum? They really should be made aware of the issues that you’ve had. I really hope something changes for you soon x

  • Annette Edmondson

    What a complete joke. I am on my local PCF steering group and hear first hand the utter hell that many families are being put through on a daily basis trying to fight to get what their children are legally entitled to. Sorry Ed and Jane, your reforms are a disgrace. They are not improving anything whatsoever, and while budgets continue to be given more importance than children’s needs, they never will. My own son has multiple diagnoses: ASD, PDA, Tourettes, Dyslexia, Sensory Processing Disorder, and has self-harmed at school, but because he has made a tiny bit of progress (no where near commensurate with his actual ability) then we have been refused Statutory Assessment. Every single thing my child needs, I have to fight tooth and nail for. Hang your heads in shame.

    • Our Parent Carer Forum has similar stories, and is busy gathering as many views as we can ahead of the Ofsted inspections. As I’ve said in other comments, I do think that money, or the lack of it, is at heart of many of the issues families face, although LA culture and poor training come in close behind. Accountability will always be a vital part of making these reforms work, and I hope the appalling things you’re seeing in your LA will be picked up by the Ofsted inspections.

  • Eliza Doolittle

    Mr Timpson: are you aware of the fact that local authorities missed the deadline this year for transferring to EHC Plans for over 4000 children? That’s 4000 children due to transfer to new phases of education who are left in limbo not knowing what school they are moving to, and unable to exercise their rights of appeal in relation to EHC Plans the standard of which is in the main, frankly, appalling. Are you aware that councils are regularly ignoring fundamental requirements for new EHC needs assessments when children transfer to EHC Plans? Are you aware that the requirement that provision in EHC Plans be detailed and specific is deliberately flouted day after day? Likewise the requirement that provision must meet needs is regularly ignored? Why are local authorities regularly writing plans in terms of provision to meet outcomes, which is not only unlawful but potentially disastrous, because outcomes are often very badly drafted and parents can’t appeal against them? What on earth are you doing actually to enforce the law that you’ve put onto the statute books?

    The reality is, of course, that councils regularly break the law because (a) they haven’t got anything like enough money to implement this properly and (b) because they know that in far too many cases they will get away with it. Parents of disabled children already have far too much on their plates, and (because at least one parent probably has to give up working) tend to have limited means, and therefore remedies such as the right of appeal tend not to be open to them realistically.

    Proclaiming how wonderfully well the system is working ignores evidence in your possession as to how badly it’s working, and how many children are being seriously failed because you are not bothering to ensure that councils obey the law. Stop talking to the yes men, start talking to the parental support organisations who see the reality of the way the system is failing day after day.

    • Tribunals are definitely being used by some LAs to ‘filter’ out families. Unfortunately, for LAs who buy into a legal package, it’s a cost effective way of reducing their workload and the amount of children that they have to support, as most parents haven’t got the energy or the resolve to go through with it. I represented myself at Tribunal and the LA employed a solicitor advocate to go against me. That is not a fair fight. Whilst it didn’t cost me a penny (as I didn’t have the money for a lawyer), it pushed me to breaking point as I ended up having to find about 100 hours to prepare papers and teach myself enough about the law to fight for my child. This was all just to get my child assessed. Tribunals are often referred to as the ‘safety net’ for parents when LAs are not acting legally, but they are not an option for most parents because they don’t have the time or the energy or the resources to take on such an unfair fight.

      I think that Ed Timpson has made a noticeable effort to consult with parents and as a result has got some insight into the difficulties, but he is still going to defend his reforms, we can’t be surprised by that. I’m glad to say that Jane Ellison has started the process of gathering parental views, something we hope will continue. But you are absolutely right, communicating with PCFs is vital for both Minsters to enable them to understand what families are really experiencing.

    • Elizabeth Nicholson

      I couldn’t agree more heartily!!! 😘

  • I couldn’t agree more, the principles behind EHC plans are absolutely spot on, but the execution is 100% dependent on everything and everyone working on the same page and towards the same goals. Whilst LAs and CCGs are so strapped for cash their goal will be to avoid spending money whilst the family’s goal is to get the provisions their child needs in an educational environment that is suitable. The two, unfortunately, rarely lead to a meeting of minds. Although that said, I have heard the odd positive story too, normally from parents who already have their child in a great specialist school that is not only meeting their needs, but also know what a good EHC plan looks like!

  • Carrie

    “A fundamental part of the reforms was to ensure that where required, young people have the same legal protections all the way through to age 25 – and today’s data bears out this fundamental point: 19 to 25-year-olds who need that extra bit of time in education are now receiving EHC plans, and are being supported all the way to adulthood.”

    Sorry Ed and Jane. I am just not seeing it.

    You need to be able to explain to my 18 year old daughter how it is that, having had a LA that has strategically obstructed her wish to continue with her post 16 education over the best part of the past three years, she has now found herself in the unfortunate position of having to defend an appeal by the LA to the Upper Tribunal.

    And now, because of the way the legal aid system works, she has had to contribute over £1400 of her own money for the privilege of doing so.

    You claim outcomes are important, but where does it say in the C& F Act or in the CoP that an intended outcome is to make a young person worse off financially? How does reducing their level of savings help their life chances?

    Of course, it could have been worse: had she savings of over £6,000 then she would not have been entitled to legal aid at all.

    In contrast, the LA has seemingly unlimited access to public funding to cover its legal costs. And, has already been pointed out, can have legal representation at the FTT when legal aid does not cover this for young people.

    Nothing has changed.

    You only have to look at the UT SEN cases to see the correlation that exists with appeals by LA’s who have purchased external legal packages. They have nothing to lose by playing games with children and young people’s lives.

  • Elizabeth Nicholson

    Frankly I admire Ed & Jane’s positive spin but in my view that is all it is! I have seen very little by way of our ‘NEW IMPROVED DELIVERY SYSTEM’. Far too many ‘Parents & Professional’s’ are struggling to access or meet the need’s of ‘FAR TOO MANY VULNERABLE CHILDREN’!

    As for ‘TIMELY’. Is this a joke!?

    We live within EAST SUSSEX (Piloting county) our experience has been far from favourable or timely! (2 academic years of pressing for further assessments and statement prior to school’s agreement to apply for EHC assessment made in Jan 15. 41 weeks from application OF EHC to receipt of a plan, 5 full drafts with final agreed amendments to the last via the telephone, initially only one element of our son’s range of disability had been accounted for, DESPITE CLEAR KNOWLEDGE of an inhouse Dyslexia screening test and confirmed NHS diagnosis of DCD-Dyspraxia & SPD.

    We were led to believe that record’s were key to access the EHC process. Sadly our school (despite knowing this, felt record keeping was an irrelevant occupation and failed across all areas to keep them)!

    IPSEA came to our aid many times as well as many other parent support groups via online social networks.

    Not all teachers know enough of the full range of SEN let alone the affect that having specific disabilities may have on a child’s ability to order / function in a classroom. Or the time to make allowances for them. Yet they now take the brunt in initially identifying need?

    Without comprehensive training you are asking far too much of our teachers!

    Primarily as a parent you must be prepared to research and PUSH for all you are worth!!! Not all parents have the time, ability or confidence needed. Luckily for my son I was determined to access an education fit for purpose ie ‘To allow him to meet his potential’!

    After battling hard over many years it is alarming to find that despite these ‘IMPROVEMENT’s parents continue to struggle to be heard in order to acces the first rung of the ladder let alone beyond.

    School continues to argue that if a child is ‘MAKING ACADEMIC PROGRESS’ they have little need for further assistance!?

    Taking my son as a case in point. It is obvious on meeting him that he has needs. Despite being able to look you in the eye (mostly appropriately) with good use & understanding of language our son was failing to access his education in any meaningful way.

    We argued for access to Social Communicaton training, Additional Dyslexia support (private specialist advised) & OT Advised Sensory strategies throughout his school day.

    School agreed to the final plan! Implemented the majority for a term then promptly dropped several elements within the New Year. We have just come through the formal complaints process. School working with ESCC have agreed several amendments to working strategies, training & record keeping in school. We can but hope they will be implemented.

    Having just sat through a ANNUAL/TRANSITIONAL REVIEW (May 20th 16., should have been completed by Feb 15th 16!!). We learn via our new SECONDARY SENCo that EHC plans being prepared no longer hold specified provisions in terms of hours etc etc. This is highly alarming as our experience tells us that without these basic provisions you have no legal argument when provision is not made!!

    What was further alarming to hear was that during this meeting our current SENCo reiterated her displeasure at being pressed to fulfil our son’s EHC plan! She went so far as to state that she felt that in having timed provisions it was too prescriptive, she couldn’t see why our son might need continued access to supporting strategies. That if she had been aware of the continuing nature of provision & having more experience she would not have agreed to accept the plan in the first instance. That she would be seeking to refuse all future plans with specified provisions!!!?

    I began to explain that a review could be called for should our son be found to need more or be making speedy progress but was further stopped and spoken over. I routinely record key meetings (with permission) so I can fully evidence my claims.

    Our son has so far failed to meet any of the outcomes routinely other than within Sensory & Physical. In that the Cits OT completed the 5 visits promised by the close of Sep 15 (prior to completion of the Final plan yet was included?)

    When up against determined inaction on behalf of the ‘Professional’s’ placed to support our children, how do we combat this, how do we access the support our children need?

    I speak to many parents and hear that they are being pressed (as we were) to evidence their children’s needs. The COGS are unremittingly slow as we have access to far fewer ‘Professional’s’ across all areas. Should you need to access CAHMS you are held within no mans land & doomed to an unremitting wait to access much needed support.

    EARLY INTERVENTION IS KEY FOR MANY OF OUR CHILDREN, yet DELAY to PROVISION is MORE LIKELY NOW AS BEFORE.

    The biggest advantage gained on behalf of parents is that it is accepted that we have and are entitled to submit our view. It hasn’t stopped Professional’s determined effort to ignore it but it is an ‘IMOROVEMENT’ so I thank you for that.

    IN MY VIEW OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM NEEDS MONIES TO PROVIDE AN EDUCATION FIT FOR PURPOSE FOR ALL OF OUR CHILDREN!! They ALL MATTER!!!

  • Melanie Hardcastle

    Mr Timpson – My county is cambridgeshire, and as far as I’m concerned the reforms have made things worse. My son was on school action plus prior to being diagnosed with adhd and auditory processing disorder, dyslexia and dyspraxia in the summer of 2014. As the reforms were changing we applied for an assessment, were turned down so we appealed. We’ve spent about 18 k of our own money to go to tribunal and get expert reports, only to be faced with a solicitors firm used by the LA that are well known outside of the county for their tactics of delays, and counter delays. You name it, they look for every loophole in the book. Quite frankly, the fact their behaviour has gone unchallenged has actually shaken my faith in the systems that are supposed to protect vulnerable people. To cut a long story short, we withdrew from the process because of the dreadful farce that it turned out to be. The financial cost and emotional cost was actually harming us a family unit. 2 years later, my son is failing at school, just as our experts predicted, his behaviour has got worse just as our experts predicted, he has switched off from learning. On top of it all, the government drive towards zero tolerance disruption, undertaken by his current school has made things worse and he has recently been excluded twice. ADHD is not taken seriously as a disability even though it is covered under the Equality Act 2010. Schools don’t want sons like mine because it affects their league tables but there is no adequate alternative provision . He should have had a statement but because we applied as the system was transitioning he fell through the net. Now I have been told by his school and county council official that there is no chance of getting an EHC plan because the criteria is even tougher. Not only that, quality first teaching is a farce. How can you expect a teacher to teach 30 kids, maybe one with autism, another adhd, several with dyslexia if you haven’t provided training. TA’s have been taken out of the classroom so who is teaching the kids with special needs if they don’t have an EHC plan. The lack of knowledge and understanding shown to my son by ill-informed teachers has increased the stigma he has around his condition and actually exacerbated his behaviours at school. I haven’t given up fighting but my experience is that the changes have been detrimental and the words ‘significant’ difficulties in the code are being re-interpreted by ruthless LA’s who are trying to keep their costs down. Meanwhile, the government I voted for has let down my son and our family badly, a family that has put everything they have in to raising their family, and a family that has never claimed a penny in benefits or assistance. The LA’s behaviour is shocking and immoral and nobody is doing anything about it particularly in my county. In 2016, there has never been more research available about conditions such as dyslexia, adhd or autism and how that effects learning. Papers are written, given to government but nothing changes in schools. How short sighted too – if my son fails in society despite everything I do as a parent, it will cost your government alot more in the future then it would do to adequately meet his needs now.

    • Carrie

      Yes, I share your concerns. My county uses the same firm of solicitor as Cambridgeshire. The really scary part is that the firm in question provides training to professionals in this area, arranged via the LA package. It would make me laugh if it were not so serious: A power point training presentation is available online which reveals professionals are told it is their role to support the LA in SEN tribunal appeals. And there I was thinking that the duty of care was owed directly to the child/young person. Scary.

  • Katherine Corey

    Interesting to read that they (the Minsters) consider FE as; ‘19 to 25-year-olds who need that extra bit of time in education’. I believe that post-19 education offers a young person the opportunity to reinvent themselves as an adult at college; provides personalised learning, progression of skills and preparing the young people for the next stage of the journey into adulthood whether that is further study, employment and /or supported living.
    Katherine Corey, Royal College Manchester @ The Seashell Trust

    • Carrie

      I think you have hit the nail on the head. Young people will never be able to move on until LA’s recognise that their role is to assess needs and to draw up EHCP’s that promote independence into adulthood. it should go without saying, but it doesn’t.

  • AUNYorks

    “Throughout this process it’s been clear, through our meetings with families like you, that the people involved truly want these reforms to work – but we know this is a steep learning curve. ”

    Ok – weird sentence. Not sure quite who “the people involved” are – if parents then this is a fatuous statement. If professionals, then can’t agree. Can you explain why parents win over 80% of all appeals to tribunal? Isn’t this fact by itself enough to have you jumping out of your chair to DO SOMETHING? Doesn’t it also indicate that the fundamental problems that were present before the Lamb report however many years ago, and before EHCPs even existed, are still all present?

  • Mrs.D.A.Lynch Lynch

    Role: Parent/Carer
    LA: Derbyshire
    We are the parents of three adopted children who all have SEND’s. We were in tribunal with our eldest daughters statement that had not been reviewed for four years. Her school suddenly decided they could not meet her needs on 3/215. We eventually after postponements and numerous spinning of the law by the LA’s representative got to the tribunal court Auguat 19th 2015. At the tribunal the LA conceeded after just 45 minutes. We applied for EHCP’s for our other two children too in February 2015 and were turned down. We then appealed and they agreed to assess, well that’s a laugh as we have had to pay a fortune for many professional assessments and reports , and our NHS pedriatrician thankfully supported us and referred us for assessments from several departments. The LA only contribute a skewed Education Psychologist report. We eventually recived our middle child’s EHCP February 16 a full year from our initial request and our youngest child’s was received in March. Both were 20 weeks plus out side the legal time frame outlined in the send ode of practice. We immediately appealed and now have two more tribunals a week part at the beginning of July. Both our children have been in school refusal for the whole of this academic year due to their school nor meeting their needs and we have had to commission private tutors to fill the gap until their tribunal. in January we also went to tribunal with a disability discrimination case against the children’s school at which we agreed to a conditional withdrawal and the school were issued with a court order to improve the SEND department by ordering them to following the send code of practice. They were also ordered to train all their staff on SEND and follow their own SEND policies. In March we commissioned a solicitor to support us through the two tribunals as the LA were using every loop hole they could to delay the enevitable legal action we had to take. Quite frankly we were are knees with the stress and distress these issues have caused us and are presently after waiting for sometime now with relate. We also made a complaint which the LA have admitted breaking the legal timeframe and offered us £500,insulting and not what we wanted,we want our children in schools that meet their needs,Needless to say we told them that it’s not about money it’s about children’s potential and future social participation. Fell on deaf ears. Now not many parents have the time or energy to do half of what we are managing to do and this is also a factor that the LA are very aware of and use to their advantage.
    For us this issue is about central government ring fencing with out monetary limits any support for children and young adults with disablities and the elderly. Most of these chikfren recieve DLA and the criteria to kbtain this support is regerous but ignored by the EHCP orocess ,just cant make sense of this. The DWP deem my chikdren to be in nerd of support but the department of education ignore this fact. All the research and statistical evidence clearly shows that it will cost more to support a growing pupulation with mental Heath and who are uneducated when they reach adulthood. This sort sightedness we feel comes from the fact that no minister is reposnsible for these services for long enough with no real experience to formulate good practices to support the most vulnerable. These children are our future tax payer, but only if they are unconditionally valued, supported and , educated enough to reach their real potential, as did the majority of the current elderly, who after working hard paying taxes during their working lives are struggling to get even the smallest of their human rights addressed. If the LA’s cannot cut services to ,and are given the guidance and budgets to improve what should be a robust local offer we may be going some way to stop LA’s looking for any and all none legally required loop hole when providing support for these very important services and therefore supporting the vunerable during their precious developmental years and end of life choices. This also mean the LA changing their criteria’s to be able to access any sparce support needs to be stopped as raising the bar to the most extreme of disabilities they can be offered support means that only the most severely disabled children can get travel to school and respite which is also very worrying. Have you tried to get a social care assessment,we have and to get a response we had to tell social to comexand collect our beautiful children we have worked hard to support. As a mother I am still terribly affected by tye impact of all the obstructions and am awaiting some psychological therapy to help me with the secondary trauma  the childrens on going disclosures cause and the fatalisum that this is how its going to be forever.   We also have the future transition for a statement to a EHCP for our eldest in less than a year and have just applied for a worrying transition from DLA to PIP for her too, and will face all three of our children transferring to adult services when they become 18. This is what our family life had become, not one of making happy memories but of endlessly fighting the system. We as parent are becoming as disable as our children as we cannot access all the support that our children need and as Carers we are becoming more emotionally and mentally crushed by all this legal action it requires for the LA to just do what is morally the right thing. Plus after working hard to pay off our mortgage before adoption now face years of repayments to cover the essential  proffessional reports x 3 and legal support now we have brains like spaghetti and can’t function at a high enough level to go it alone. 
    In addition voting another party is not the answer as it takes too long to put good practice and budgets in place in the area of supporting the most vulnerable in our society. But it this system must be under a governing body that is not attached to any single party but must be under a seperate department that is not and cannot be influenced by central govenmental budgeting. This department must also be very stringently policed to prevent personal agenders and egos becoming more important than the aims. I ask why are parents not being heard. We have have personally filled in every survey that has come our way and a lot that haven’t to express our opinions on the EHCP process and LA budget cuts, only to find our children will not be transported to our preferred schools in the future because it is not a legal requirement, well then this should also be part of the EHCP and become a legal requirment. The LA have also decided to cut the total budget for disabled children to access group and individual activities that support them with friendships  (aiming high )and help them feel less isolated, even though a user survey clearly disagreed with this service being totally devolved this September. It is however still advertised as a part of the local offer. We are by no means legal wizards but surely there are laws within the children and family acts, disability acts, education acts and a few more no doubt that could be  used to challenge and to plug these distructive loop holes that help disintegrate families instead of helping them to become healthy and somewhere children thrive instead of just survive. We are in debt to the tune of many thousands but what the point of leaving any inheritance that will be most probably poured into a syringe or spent on alcohol, we are spending it all now to prevent our children becoming a sad statistic because they are not a deposable commodity to be discarded in the future, they are In fact brave , courageous, kind, compassionate valuable human beings who given the chance will support others who are less fortunate in the future. How sad that the LA see them as something they can make budget cuts to over other choices like less expensive department heads or filling a pothole. Rant over but thank you for a place for me to dump some of my frustrations with this issue.

  • Tris kaye

    I think Ed And Jane need to sit in or review some of the parent meetings that take place with the
    LA ‘s. They are out of touch, ill informed and franckly clueless as to what is going on out there. WAKE UP AND DO YOUR JOB.
    Parent of a child with ASD. Fighting the LA to do their job properly for a second time in three years. Disgraceful.