SNJ in Conversation with Edward Timpson CBE KC “You’ve got to really care about families and their lives …”

In the third podcast in our series on a decade of the Children and Families Act 2014, SNJ ’s Tania and Renata talk to former SEND Minister, Edward Timpson, who steered the legislation through parliament. We discuss the battles he had to fight to create a legal duty on health in the Act, and to bring in Ofsted /CQC SEND inspections. What does he wish he’d been able to push further? And what else might be different if he hadn’t lost his seat—and ministerial role— in the 2017 election…

Who is Edward Timpson

For those newer to the SEND world, Edward Timpson is widely thought of as the best of the (many) SEND ministers we’ve had. He grew up surrounded by children his parents fostered—more than 80 of them. It endowed him with a deep sense of empathy of the problems children face when their needs have not been met. As an MP and Children and Families Minister, he used that knowledge to push for legislative change for disabled children. After the loss of his seat, he carried out a government review of school exclusions, but in our podcast he explains how he isn’t happy the recommendations haven’t all been implemented.

He returned for another stint in parliament in 2019, but decided against standing again in this election, in favour of returning to his previous career as a family law barrister—with an eye to becoming a judge.

Watch the video podcast

Watch the he YouTube version below, or find the episode on your preferred podcast platform.

YouTube | Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Amazon Music

A few quick taster clips…

If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing now, but would like a taste, here are a few clips, all under three minutes long.

In his time away from parliament in 2018, Edward Timpson CBE KC, conducted a review of exclusions for the government. He made a number of recommendations but they haven't all been implemented. Is he happy with the way it was acted on?
The loss of his seat in 2017 just as implementation was ramping up meant former SEND Minister, Edward Timpson, wasn’t able to push home some of the things he had wanted to expand, for example, the role of the independent supporter to “hand-hold” parents through the changeover. Instead, the role came to an end, losing a vital support for families navigating a new system, leaving the often inconsistent LA SENDIAS service overwhelmed. We believe this is something that should be revisited by a new government. Mr Timpson also said he wishes it had been possible to go at a slower pace, to tackle some of the issues being revealed in testing the reforms and how they became “obsessed” with moving children on statements over to the new system, to the detriment of other important factors:
Getting the duty on health to provide the provisions in an EHCP was a battle for Ed Timpson and his team was a "real breakthrough" although he admits more work needs to be done - but without diluting any current provisions— as it's a danger that in revisiting legislation, you run the risk of ending up with something worse- something that needs to be remembered by anyone calling for further reform.

Co-production with families is the "essence of what drives change" says Edward Timpson. He says that without listening closely to parents and young people you won't end up with the changes that are needed.

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Tania Tirraoro

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