• SEND speak

Coaching, Campaigning & Creativity

Updated: Apr 8

Dear All

Where did March go!? Just realised it has been nearly two months since a SENDspeak appeared. And the world is getting brighter again as doors open once more and the weather warms…

1. SOS!SEN - What We Do and Webinars

2. Moving to a new phase of education with an EHC Plan

3. Accessing Services - Mythbuster

4. Forgotten. Left behind. Overlooked.

5. Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP) – campaigning for us

6. Why does Josh’s review seem to think disabled children are 'Not Known to Social Care'?

7. UK Disability Survey – the Cabinet Office

8. From the SEND Implementation people at the DfE (Dept. for Education)

9. Teaching assistants 'unsung heroes' of pandemic

10. Universal Credit for young people receiving education

11. Why Person-Centred Planning is vital for better lives for children and adults with disabilities

12. Creative Things to Do

13. The Future of Disabled Theatre

14. The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain

15. Dogs for Good

16. News from Richmond & Kingston

1 SOS!SEN - What We Do and Webinars

“We offer a free, friendly, independent and confidential telephone helpline for parents and others looking for information and advice on Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).

We concentrate on helping people to find their way through the legal and procedural maze which is so daunting to so many who try to obtain satisfactory provision for a child’s special needs.”


SOS!SEN also offer a webinars programme - and you can also view past webinars. The next 3 webinars are as follows:

Thursday 22nd April 2021 6pm-7:30pm Drafting Reasons for Appeal led by Eleanor Wright, SOS!SEN coordinator and Solicitor

Thursday 29th April 2021 6pm-7:30pm Appeals against the Refusal to Assess for an EHCP led by Eleanor Wright, SOS!SEN coordinator and Solicitor

Thursday 6th May 2021 6pm-7:30pm My child speaks fine, why would they need a speech and language assessment? led by Libby Hill, Independent Speech and Language Therapist

Email if you have any queries about the webinars.

All SOS!SEN webinars are recorded so a copy of past ones can be found on sandbox once a user has registered:

Please also contact if you would like to see a list of past workshops.

2 Moving to a new phase of education with an EHC Plan

ISPEA (Independent Provider of Special Educational Advice) – March 2021

"Recently, we’ve been receiving an increasing number of helpline calls from families whose local authority are making children with EHC plans go through the normal admissions process for secondary school places. This is not lawful.

If you have an EHC plan, you have stronger rights to request a particular school. Our guidance linked below explains."

3 Accessing Services Mythbuster

Cerebra have many useful fact sheets on their website. This is one of the newest:

“Many people who work for public bodies and many parents of disabled children misunderstand the law. This factsheet identifies and busts a number of the common myths around accessing services.”

4 Forgotten. Left behind. Overlooked.

Spring 2021: Reports of the APPG for SEND

APPG = All Party Parliamentary Group

Forgotten. Left behind. Overlooked. The experiences of young people with SEND and their educational transitions during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020

“This is the first report of the APPG for SEND. When we formed as a group in early March 2020, we had no idea of the turmoil that we all would face just a few short weeks later as the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the country went into lockdown.

The group formed with the aim of supporting special schools and SEND provision in mainstream school and college settings. This past year has seen young people with SEND, their families and their educational settings needing support and a platform more than ever, as the Covid-19 pandemic hasheld a magnifying glass to the existing problems in the SEND system. This report serves to highlight their stories; to be a platform for their voice.”

You can locate a copy of the report using this link (about half-way down the page):

Or there is a copy of the pdf here:

5 Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP) – campaigning for us

“The Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP) is a major coalition of more than 80 organisations

campaigning for improved health and social care for disabled children, young people and their families.”

25th February 2021

In January, we asked our Parent Panel about the impact of the third lockdown – and the cumulative impact of the pandemic – on them and their families.

They told us of the devastating impact that this and the previous lockdowns were having. Many told us that their children were not receiving support for the disability or medical condition via health services or school. This has had detrimental impacts on their children’s disabilities during a time of reduced levels of support at home during the pandemic.”

Read the report from Survey 1 here:

29th March 20121

On this day, “we published the results of the second survey of our Parent Panel.

Awfully, the survey reveals that disabled children and their families are at risk of developing serious mental health issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The levels of anxiety, isolation and poor mental wellbeing reported are higher compared to the rest of the population.”

Read the report from Survey 2 here:

The DCP has a couple of Call to Actions for families…

E-mail your MP

“MPs have started to ask questions of the Government on this issue, and we have heard from several more that they want to get involved in our campaigning.

If you haven’t yet emailed your MP, this is still time to do so.”

E-mail the Department for Education

“We’ve been raising our new research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic directly with the Government, but there is still no recovery plan in place for children and families.

Can you help us call for a recovery plan directly with the Government by emailing the Department for Education?”

6 Why does Josh’s review seem to think disabled children are ‘Not Known to Social Care’?

Special Needs Jungle, by Catriona Moore, March 16th 2021

I can’t add any more to this than the title says… here is the article:

7 UK Disability Survey – the Cabinet Office Closes 23rd April 2021

This item was included in the last issue of SENDspeak, but it is kind of important to have your say and contribute your lived experiences to this strategy…

“The Disability Unit at the Cabinet Office is developing a National Strategy for Disabled People. Publication is planned for Spring 2021.

To help the government with understanding the barriers that disabled people face and what it may need to focus upon to improve the lives of disabled people, we need to hear about your views and know more about your experiences.

This survey will ask about your life experiences either as a disabled person, a carer or parent or as someone who has an interest in disability issues.

Many people have had big changes in their lives as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and there will be an opportunity at the end of the survey to state if your life has changed notably due to COVID-19, and in what ways. However, please answer other questions thinking about yourself, your own experiences and your current situation.

There are easy read versions available.”

8 From the SEND Implementation people at the DfE (Dept. for Education)

7th April 2021

Important information about face coverings

“Dear colleagues,

We are writing to signpost important information about face coverings:

We announced yesterday (6 April) that face coverings should continue to be worn in secondary schools and college classrooms when students return after the Easter break ( ) to help limit transmission and enable continued monitoring of the effect of school and college returns, as twice weekly testing of students is established and embedded. It is important to note that those who rely on visual signals for communication, or speak to or provide support to those individuals, are currently exempt from any requirement to wear face coverings in schools or in public places.

It is expected that face coverings will no longer be required to be worn in classrooms, or by students in other communal areas, at step 3 of the roadmap, which will be no earlier than 17 May. At that point, the next stage of easements, including increased social contact indoors, will be confirmed following a review of the latest data on infection and vaccination rates


We have also published updates to the following guidance to reflect this announcement:

· Face coverings in education guidance

· Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak

· Actions for FE colleges and providers during the coronavirus outbreak

· Special schools and other specialist settings: coronavirus (COVID-19)

· Protective measures for holiday and after-school clubs, and other out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Many thanks

Special Educational Needs and Disability Division

5th March 2021

Open letter from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families

Please find attached open letter from Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, to children and young people SEND, their families, and those who support them.

You can find this letter on the SENDspeak website, here:

If you would like to receive these updates direct, please e-mail and ask to be added to the distribution list.

9 Teaching assistants 'unsung heroes' of pandemic

The Guardian, 1st April 2021

“UCL Institute for Education finds 88% of TAs supported vulnerable and key worker children in school. Teaching assistants have emerged as the “unsung heroes” of the pandemic with more than half stepping up to take classes in schools during lockdown while teachers delivered remote learning to children at home, a study shows.”

10 Universal Credit for young people receiving education

“Contact’s specialist family finances team have produced new resources. These include a set of templates that parents can use to challenge the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) delays in processing claims and in organising medical assessments.

There are particular rules that make it more difficult to get Universal Credit if you are still in education. Claiming Universal Credit for young people in education is a complex process, so we recommend that you read our factsheet on claiming Universal Credit for a young disabled person.

This webpage also has recordings of webinars for parents that you may find useful as well as three template letters that you can use to challenge failures or delays by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).”

11 Why Person-Centred Planning is vital for better lives for children and adults with disabilities

Special Needs Jungle with NDTi, 10th March 2021

“We have probably all heard of person-centred planning and that it's a jolly good idea when organising and commissioning services for disabled people, especially when preparing for adulthood. Putting the needs of the individual at the heart is what the Children and Families Act is supposed to be all about. Unfortunately, all too often it's forgotten completely, because of costs, lack of training, "COVID" (the catch-all), or just generally, because CBA*.

The National Development Team for Inclusion is all about person-centred planning. The NDTi's Linda Jordan is here to tell us what it is and why it's vital.”

12 Creative Things to Do

12a The Self-Isolation Choir

This would appear to be accessible for all those who love to sing (with perhaps some support to read music).

“We are founded by choral singers for choral singers.

The Self-Isolation Choir aims to provide comfort and support to people feeling disconnected from family, friends and society by bringing us all together to sing glorious choral works.

As a member of The Self-Isolation Choir, you will learn great choral pieces online with professional musicians (such as Tenebrae, Ashley Riches, Fieri Consort) and then have the optional opportunity to record your own voice part from home. We then combine all the voices together in a recording studio to create the full choir. Finally, we arrange an online concert performance where you can hear YOUR version as the complete choir performs the work. The concerts are mostly broadcast live via a shared link and always available to watch back whenever you like.

Simply join a choral work you wish to learn from the ‘Courses’ tab above and we will email you all the details you need to get started. There is no audition or subscription fee as each course is charged separately.”

Having had a look at the course fees, they appear to be from £25 to £50 and all include the rehearsals, the music and a final recording.

12b Para Dance UK: free inclusive virtual dance sessions

“Para Dance UK would like to invite you to join them live on Facebook for inclusive dance sessions that you can do at home. All aimed to help you maintain activity while being at home, enjoy some time dancing with others and lift your spirits.

The Facebook sessions will be streamed live, you can join in with the virtual dance sessions and interact with their instructors and other participants using the comment function.

All live sessions are recorded and automatically saved, so if you miss a session, you can always take part another time.”

12c United Response - CookABILITY videos

“Do you want to start cooking but find it too confusing? These accessible, easy-to-follow cooking videos made by and for people with learning disabilities will help you get started.”

12d Welcome to Accessible Chef

“Accessible Chef is a collection of free visual recipes and other resources to help teach cooking skills to individuals with disabilities. Looking for Your Special Chef? You're in the right place!”

13 The Future of Disabled Theatre

BBC Radio 4, Front Row, Wednesday 31st March (28 minutes, audio)

“Leading theatre makers discuss the state of disabled theatre. Plus Samira talks to the outgoing Government Disability Champion Andrew Miller.”

14 The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain

“Packed with over 200 reviews of accessible and inspiring days out, there's something for everyone in The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain!

Whilst we all may not be able to get out and about at the moment, the Rough Guide to Accessible Britain is crammed with detailed reviews and essential information for over 200 UK attractions, making it the perfect planning tool for when we can all begin exploring again.

You can view the Guide online or download it as a PDF and start planning today!”

15 Dogs for Good

With so many families getting, or having got, a new dog during the last year, this service seems wise..

“We make life-changing differences for people with disabilities through the power of expertly trained dogs.”

One of the services is “Dogs for Good’s Family Dog workshops provide parents of children with autism with the advice and long-term support needed for choosing and training a dog to benefit the whole family.”

16 News from Richmond & Kingston

Many readers of SENDspeak are resident in either Richmond or Kingston boroughs. Here is a brief round-up of local news.

16a Congratulations - Community Awards – Richmond

These are the SEND specific commendations of note…

Congratulations to Alison & Kevin Sears from Richmond NAS for their commendation in the Outstanding Volunteer category. Alison & Kevin have been contributing to NAS Richmond for over 20 years and since 2015 have been the NAS Richmond's Branch Chair and co-Chair respectively. This couple are remarkable in their steady, unstinting pursuit to make things better for those with autism.

Likewise, congratulations to Giles Hobart and TAG for their commendation within the Community Group of the Year. TAG Youth Club has gone from strength to strength over the past four years. Their approach is: “Our core work is about enabling young people to participate in experiences – planned or unplanned – and for them to be able to reflect on how that experience has changed them.”

Park Lane Stables also received a nomination for Community Project of the Year and perhaps, more importantly, succeeded in their mission to raise £1 million to Save Our Stables – with help from a few local celebrities and the BBC! (see below)

You can see all the awards here:

16b “We did it! We raised £1Million!”

Park Lane Stables based in Teddington, southwest London, is a friendly, inclusive and award-winning RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) centre.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who donated to help us try to save our stables. We are over the moon that the money has been raised and have been completely overwhelmed by everyone's kindness and support during these difficult times.

We are now going to take the best professional legal and financial advice on how to secure the purchase of the stables and working with the trustees to decide the best way to use the extra funds raised.”

16c Have your say about clubs for children and young people with disabilities - Short Breaks

“Achieving for Children are consulting on the recommissioning of Short Breaks. Full details are here on the Local Offer The consultation opened on 23 March 2021 and will end on 17 May 2021.”

16d New Special Educational Needs and Disability Register in Kingston and Richmond

“These registers are lists of children and young people (under 25 years) who have special educational needs or a disability. As every local authority must have a register by law, this already exists in both boroughs, but the previous version was different in a number of ways, including in its name” …and the option to apply for a Disability Card to for leisure activities.

If you have any questions at all, please ask and I'll do my best to find an answer.

With best wishes, Romany



40 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All