Further to Tania’s post last week on our initial views on the new draft Code of Practice, we’re still analyzing the changes in some detail but we wanted to highlight a few points which have jumped out.
Family Centred System?
In the original draft in October, there was a whole lovely section entitled “A Family Centred system”. The inclusion of the words “family-centred” gave us a glimmer of hope that although the changes were not of the aspirational level that the Green Paper initially offered, that at least, the Government were still making good on making the system easier for families. However, here we are less than six months later and the word “family-centred” doesn’t appear in the new Code at all. The section has disappeared and my favourite paragraph within the introduction of this section “Parents are often the main carers for young people with SEN, and their views and opinions are important and valid during assessment, planning and reviewing" has disappeared too.
In the previous draft, in the section “involving children, young people and parents in decision making”, it talked about person-centred planning
“This approach is often referred to as ‘person-centred planning’. Using this approach within a family context, educational settings, professionals and local authorities can ensure that parents, children and young people are genuinely involved in all aspects of planning and decision making."
Person-centred Planning is now only referred to in Section 3.38 (Personal budgets with a EHC Plan) and Section 9 (EHC needs assessments and plans), so for those who don’t have a plan, well, obviously good practice says person-centred planning will happen but unfortunately guidance doesn’t say it has to.
One Page Profiles
One Page Profiles (and we know how many parents love these) have also disappeared from the revised Code. In the previous draft, after the glowing paragraph on person-centred planning, there was another popular paragraph with parents:
Drawing up a one-page profile of the child or young person can help to ensure that those working with them and their parents have an accessible summary of the information about them, ensuring that EHC plans are developed with the child, young person and parents and reflect aspirational and achievable outcomes.
Why has this disappeared? To quote from the previous draft, One Page Profiles can help to ensure that those working with the child or young person and their parents have an accessible summary of the information about them, ensuring that EHC plans are developed with the child, young person and parents and reflect aspirational and achievable outcomes.
The new draft states that the assessment and planning process should
- be easy for children, young people and their parents or carers to understand, and use clear ordinary language and images rather than professional jargon .
- highlight the child or young person’s strengths and capabilities
- enable the child or young person, and those that know them best to say what they have done, what they are interested in and what outcomes they are seeking in the future
So, let me think. What is already available that is easy for everyone to understand, uses clear language rather than jargon, highlights strengths and capabilities and also enables the child or young person (and those who know them best) to say what they are interested in and what outcomes they are seeking in the future. If I was on the American game show Jeopardy, I would be shouting “What is a One Page Profile?” In fact, as I read through the Code of Practice, I found myself shouting “one page profile” a lot. In 9.65, it even talks the same language as one page profiles – what is important to the child/young person and what is important for them.
So, can we have One Page Profiles back please? We know that in a world of good practice, we could suggest they are used and everyone would oblige, but in the real world of "good practice is a goal not a requirement", it would help to show Governmental support for them as a concept. Parents, Teachers, SENCOs and most frontline staff actually like them and find useful. Can we try a little bit more of that family-centred approach mentioned in the previous draft please?
Now the word “outcomes” is mentioned 97 times in the new Code so it is obviously of some importance - and rightly so. However, within the code, there are very few definitions of what an outcome is. There is a whole section under the "Education, Health and Care needs, assessment and plans" about Outcomes but there really does need to be more specific guidance for those children without a Plan. If this school based category is to work for families, we need more detail from the Government so that local interpretations are not used to reduce the current provision.
Section 6 - Schools
We will be writing about Section 6 of the revised Code in another post next week. This section will have such a huge impact on so many families - those with SEN but no Plan, those with no Plan but in a Special Academy and those with a Plan in a Special School. To be honest, this section is a very weak point of the revised Code. The whole chapter needs to be much more specific. For example, in the last draft Code, it specified that schools must meet with parents at least termly to set clear goals etc but in the current draft, this is now “schools should meet with parents at least three times a year”. It’s not the same thing. You could have three meetings before Christmas if your child was experiencing difficulties and each time, you could review the support and activities. Does this mean, under the new system, the school could then say “you’ve had your quota, sorry”. Yes, we know that a lot of schools won’t do that, but there are, unfortunately, schools who will do exactly as it says on the tin and not one iota more.
Ending on a positive – The Local Offer
One slight improvement in the Local Offer is the addition of “In setting out what they ‘expect to be available’, local authorities should include provision which they believe will actually be available.” This is still not perfect and still allows local authorities to say “oh we believed this would be available but it’s not”, and as we've said before, you cannot challenge an expectation or even a belief. However, at least the Government do seem to be aware of this.
Will it help? Only time will tell.
If the new system is to work better for families (and for schools, teachers, senco's, TA's and all the other front line staff we work with daily) then the revised Code needs to ensure that person-centred planning is strong throughout, not just for those who have a plan. There needs to be more detail to avoid local policy detracting from the Government's hoped for outcomes. We also need the Government's support in changing the culture of them/us; this can only be achieved if we have a Code of Practice with SMART outcomes.
Ask Jane from IPSEA
If you have questions about the revised Code of Practice or the new Children and Families Act, don't forget you can ask Jane McConnell from IPSEA on the Bringing Us Together's web chat on Thursday (24th April) at 1pm.
- Accountability: the number one change you would like - March 7, 2016
- Life Skills – are children with VI missing out? - March 2, 2016
- Tests:Do you and your child find them testing? - February 3, 2016
I think a positive way forward for parents to look at this is to have the viewpoint that they have removed the red tape of the limited statements that we ended up fighting for and got exhausted in the process and this was before our kids even received a service.
What this change has done is moved the point of contention from not what was written but what has been delivered against an identified statutory need.
The good thing is if we parents get our heads around the vagaries of “personalisation” and use it as OUR positive tool to mean that we can achieve what we require for our children then the authorities will have to play ball on a case by case basis otherwise the lawyers are going to have a field day with the notion of discrimination.
Example My daughter loves swimming. Now is this a social care need or a health need. Well it can be either depending on whether she wants to stay healthy or have fun. Really I don’t think the authorities have the capacity or the creative nous to be able to commission services so it will be up to us to be micro commissioners. I certainly will be brokering a deal with my local pool for her to access at a reasonable cost….paid monthly and will be included as part of her personal budget.
I am an ex social care and supported housing commissioner and my disabled daughter is now 15 so I have seen the changes and how we can use them to our advantage to say …. and just on hat grounds can’t you provide funding to meet that need…….
I am sorry Gavin but I cannot see a shift at all. it is still about identified statutory need & provision. No joining up of education, health & social care. Outcomes cannot be appealed at this moment anywhere (hopefully to be resolved when Regs appear) so an LA can set them but if you don’t agree they cannot be challenged. A mess.
I can only speak from personal experience on this one but I am already seeing a more co-operative approach from my local authority on the key areas that I need delivering for my daughter and for the first time actually feel that I have influence.
I appreciate your point but take the view that change is there to be shaped and the better authorities are now including us parents and where they forget the other legislation as I discovered recently reminds me that they can’t hide in the way that the statementing process became too technical and vague and an industry in its own right.
I also fundamentally disagree on the lack of joining up as this is where I see the parents taking charge and showing the public sector how we can save them money and reduce the need for 3 OT’s…i.e a health OT that can’t leave the hospital…..an education OT that can’t do anything in your home or the non school environment and a social care OT that won’t comment on anything outside the home.
Let’s be positive as the authorities and schools are as much looking how to mange and deliver the change as we are so let us as parents take charge as we know our kids best.
I remember seeing your presentation in Sunderland in Feb. 13 and thought at the end Armageddon was about to happen and that we and our kids were doomed. One year on I went again to the Sunderland local partnership event on this subject and came away relieved that the possibilities for delivery were so different to the picture of doom that was painted the previous year so lets all be positive and start again and make it happen for our children as the perfect legislation and delivery don’t exist just like the holy grail.
Gavin I am really pleased it is working like this for you and hopefully others in Sunderland. It was a long time ago I came up and spoke there and things have moved on a great deal in the legislation since then thanks in part to us all as parents pushing the issues.
I am afraid your experience is not being reflected enough in other LAs. Why? Many factors but particularly budget restraints and a fear of the unknown/ change.
Of course legislation & it’s delivery will never be perfect but until the ink is dry on the statue books charities like IPSEA will continue to make it as strong as possible. This is essential to making it happen for our children. The law is the only “safety net” available to some of our most vulnerable children and young people with SEN – to compel LAs to do their best by this group when it is not done willingly. Too many children with SEN are not lucky enough to have parents who can engage in the system as you or I can do on behalf of our children or are in care where the LA are their corporate parent and provider of education support. Always a conflict of interest in my experience.
If you live in a “better” LA and/or have a parent who can advocate for you – to negotiate a direct payment for example – this system holds promise. We can certainly be positive for them. But being positive is not enough and won’t be effective in those other “bad” LAs or for those children without proactive parents.
Bottom line is as parents we are all on the same side. We all want what is best for our kids. We all want what is best for all kids with SEN. We all want to be able to get on with our ordinary lives with our extraordinary children.
It is good to discuss.
Some things look quite good, some not so good, and there is at least one typo (or possibly just an example of poor editing from the draft), from my quick skim through. I have now managed to get ink and paper so hope to print the thing out and go through and get my views into the consultation before it closes. We haven’t got long, have we? At the end of the day, it won’t be until we get some Tribunal decisions through on the new ECHPs that we will know how Judges are going to interpret the new laws and CoP, and from the point of view of someone who has been through the old system, we parents want it all as tight as possible before we get to that point.
The new C&F Act 2014 and Code of Practice, like previous legislation that brought us our beloved yet hated statements, will have holes, omissions and errors! It is inevitable in any piece of new legislation – but there is still one last chance to feedback on the revised draft COP should we feel it is too much like a sieve.
The new C&F Act and COP, like previous legislation, can and will also be as misinterpreted as it’s predecessor was – by those that choose to misinterpret and look for holes within. As well as by those that are just not as well informed as they MUST be. This is the nature of law making so I guess we are in for a long period of adjustment, trial and error, quite literally!
That said, there are positives too. That we are having this debate (now in it’s third year at least) about aspirations, outcomes, and involvement is progress. Speaking our collective voice in ever new ways (SNJ/Blogosphere/Forums) enables us to press on and to contribute to future debate and progress (even if not always heard and however slow). Parents are growing our own confidence, knowledge and understanding – ultimately to influence how practitioners deal with us parents and our young people to achieve the outcomes we fairly seek for our children….
But the debate must continue beyond September 2014 and we must continue to shape it until we own it.
There is still much to be gained too; from efficiencies, EHCP (for the few [-er] ) constructive, structured conversations, post 16 guidance – the debate, as much as the law and the workforce development training, will spur some to make additional progress and find new means to realise our support and aspirations in tandem with, and even in spite of, the law. I am hopeful that enough seed will be scattered, eve if a lot of weeds still breakthrough – for now!
My greater concern is that still, in spite of Independent Parental Support initiatives and forums, too many parents are and will remain ill-informed, uninformed or even misinformed about the reforms and changes heralded. And that for this reason too many children and families will be left to gamble for their future despite the efforts of so many Pathfinder partners such as Achievement for All, Early Support and Contact a Family to support parents for change. If we retrain the formal SEND workforce (as Pathfinders and no doubt many other authorities are/will) why on earth are Government not making a better job re-informing the massive unpaid parent carer workforce who survive on the front line 24/7/365/infinitum ? What happened to the new partnership ways of working? The new dance? It takes two to tango; if only one partner is taught the new dance there will be no dancing and no party. Or parity!
For none-EHCP families, what is the view on none statutory plans, Early Support Family Service plans and other free resources now? What became of the Pathfinder Core Partners ? Dispensible bedfellows it seems.
These are good alternative approaches for families wanting to consider, plan, record for their child’s outcomes independently or with local informal support. Like an EHCP they aid families to make sense of the life they want for their child/family. After all the costs associated with development, not to employ such resources now seems misguided; baby and bathwater come to mind!
It’s going to take years to turn this tanker around; but gotta keep trying/turning!