• SEND speak

Local Activities, Inspections, a SEND Champion & Days

Dear All

Whilst our parenting experiences can be challenging, we could also bear in mind how much the SEND world has changed since some of us were much younger. When the Warnock Report was published in 1978, there were no legal protections for people with SEND in education.

Even the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) didn’t appear until 1995; this is now the Equalities Act (2010).

1. The SEND Carers Coffee and Chat

2. Play Workshop - for Parents and Carers of Children with Disabilities

3. Leisure Activities, Short Breaks and Respite

4. Accessible London

5. London’s Theatres - Disabled Access (and discounts)

6. Kingston announces modernisation of children’s centre services

7. Your Say (planning documents for new SEN School in Richmond borough)

8. Kingston (RBK) SEND Local Area Written Statement of Action (WSOA)

9. An inspector calls. Again. But are they improving SEND provision?

10. Demand Action for SEND Funding

11. The SEND Inquiry – Young People

12. The big rise in home-schooling for SEN pupils

13. Segregation is not the answer

14. Tribute to a SEND champion; Mary Warnock

15. World Social Work Day

16. Don't Stop Me Now - World Down Syndrome Day

17. Down Syndrome celebrations – locally

18. “Why It Appears I Let My Autistic Son Get His Own Way”

19. The Secret Life of Us

1 The SEND Carers Coffee and Chat

Local group for Barnes

“The SEND Carers Coffee and Chat is a friendly and informal group open to all and based at the Castlenau Centre, Barnes. We meet on the first Monday of every month (bank holidays allowing).”

Find them on Facebook and join their closed group:

Or drop them an e-mail: E:

And dates for the drop-ins and summer picnics are now on the Local Offer:

The next drop in is:

Monday 1st April - 9.30am to 11.30am

Castelnau Centre, Stillingfleet Rd, Barnes, SW13 9AQ

2 Play Workshop - for Parents and Carers of Children with Disabilities

Family Matters next workshop is being given by Vicki Ivie from The Play Specialist Service. “After a wonderful workshop in 2017, she is returning to talk on how to support children and young people with a disability or additional needs, such as ASD, through sensory play and interaction.”

Tuesday 26th March – 10am to 1pm

DAAC, 4 Waldegrave Rd Teddington TW11 8HT

The workshop is free to attend, but please book your place here:

3 Leisure Activities, Short Breaks and Respite

Finding something to do during the holidays or sunny weekends can be challenging. Here is a very brief round up of some of services out there.

A List

The Local Offer is… “compiling this list to make it easier to find activities in the local area all in one place. This is a work in progress! Please let us know of any activities or opportunities that could be added or any corrections to the page if you find something that is not quite right.

You can use the feedback faces or email with more detail.”

Challengers Easter Holiday Play Scheme

Details are about half way down the page in the link below…

“Challengers have been awarded the tender to deliver a playscheme and a youth scheme in the Kingston and Richmond area for the next 3 years. For both Saturdays and school holidays.

Yorda Adventures “Providing play and short breaks for children with severe learning disabilities”

EnhanceAble Respite and Short Breaks

Including Space and Croft Cottage

Mencap - activities for 8 to 17 year olds

“We are pleased to announce that we have received funding and are launching an exciting new programme of events, visits and activities aimed at young people with learning disabilities, social communication conditions and additional needs (including ADHD).”

4 Accessible London

London continues to improve its accessibility provisions. Here you can read about London hotels, attractions, public transport and more.

“Discover London’s best accessible attractions and iconic sights with our handy accessibility guide.” This list gives their Top 20 attractions, with the British Museum being the most popular. Venues like the Natural History Museum and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre often hold autism friendly events.

A Pop Up window (on the same page) offers a Free London Guide Book (via e-mail) if you subscribe to their site.

5 London’s Theatres - Disabled Access (and discounts)

Recently, booking tickets for myself and my youngest son (who rarely leaves the house), I said that he was 6’8” and needed to be seated so he didn’t block other’s view. In passing I mentioned his autism and they immediately put me through to their Access line. I was given 65% off two seats!! In short… always ask.

“London’s West End is home to some of the oldest theatres in the world, which showcase a stunning array of architecture that reflects everything from baroque to art deco. However, a drawback of having venues that can be up to 400 years old is that disabled access options are often very limited. Below, we outline some basic access details for London theatres, including access into the venue, access seats and facilities. For more detailed information, please visit the individual theatre pages.

Please note that most London theatres offer discount tickets for an access patron and their companion. Please call the designated access lines below to book.”

6 Kingston announces modernisation of children’s centre services

Published by Kingston Council – 22nd March 2019

“The council announced the plans at the Children’s and Adults’ Care and Education Committee meeting on 21 March. Providing there is no call in on the decision, from June 2019, the services at Norbiton and Surbiton children’s centres will be delivered at local outreach sites with a focus on targeting those areas and communities in greatest need.”

7 Your Say (planning documents for new SEN School in Richmond borough)

The link below takes you to the outline planning permission for the demolition and comprehensive redevelopment of Barnes Hospital. This is your chance to comment…

“Earlier this month the Department for Education approved Richmond Council’s bid, made by children’s services provider Achieving for Children, for a new free school. The school will provide 90 places for children and young people aged 7 to 19 who have social, emotional and mental health needs, and is proposed, subject to planning permission, to be established as part of South West London St George’s Mental Health Trust’s redevelopment of the Barnes Hospital site, on South Worple Way in Barnes. The outline planning application for the redevelopment of Barnes Hospital, including the proposed provision of the special free school for children and young people with social, emotional and health needs, can be viewed and commented upon at:”

8 Kingston (RBK) SEND Local Area Written Statement of Action (WSOA)

Published by Kingston Council, Kingston’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Achieving for Children (AfC) - 20th March 2019

Kingston borough had their visit from the SEND Ofsted Inspectors some while before Christmas; the inspectors required a Written Statement of Action (WSOA) from Kingston to describe what they will be doing about the areas that need work. Note: Kingston will be re-inspected in due course to see how they are progressing with the WSOA. (Richmond has yet to be inspected).

“This document outlines the commitment of Kingston Council, Kingston’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Achieving for Children (AfC) to address the areas of concern which were identified in Kingston’s local area SEND inspection, which took place between 17-21 September 2018.”

9 An inspector calls. Again. But are they improving SEND provision?

from Special Needs Jungle - by Matt Keer – published 20th March

The full article is in the link below.

“Just under three years ago, inspectors from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission began checking up on England’s SEND services.

Where are we now?

We’re now just over halfway through the inspections – check out the infographics for more detail, and to see what’s happened in your local area and region. But here’s how things stand in mid-March 2019:

· 82 of the 152 local areas have been inspected, and have received an ‘outcome letter’ detailing their performance in implementing the SEND reforms. Five more are awaiting the result of their inspection.

· Local area SEND inspections aren’t like school inspections: there’s no grade from outstanding to inadequate. But in 40 of the 82 local areas – nearly half of them - inspectors found performance poor enough that they invoked their most serious sanction: instructing the local area to submit a written statement of action (WSOA), a plan showing how council and NHS leaders are going to improve the service.

· Inspection outcomes are getting worse over time: in 2016’s inspections, 25% of local areas were told to write a written statement of action. In 2017, 51% of local areas had to submit one. And in 2018, nearly 60% of local areas inspected had to put a WSOA together. There’s not a clear reason why, but it’s highly likely that inspection standards have risen since the first visits in 2016.

· There’s also a disparity in outcomes by region: London and the East Midlands have performed relatively well in these inspections, but outcomes in Yorkshire and the North East have been much poorer. Again, it’s not exactly clear why, but it’s notable that many inspections in the North have been led by Ofsted’s most experienced & capable SEND specialists.”

10 Demand Action for SEND Funding

From Richmond Councillors - 26 February 2019

“There are 3,500 children and young people attending schools in Richmond upon Thames with special educational needs. A further 1,360 children and young people in the borough require Education Health and Care Plans.”

Use the email template on this page to write to Damien Hinds:

11 The SEND Inquiry – Young People

For readers new to SENDspeak, here is what the Inquiry is all about…

“In 2014, the Government introduced wide-reaching changes to the SEND system, with the intention of offering simpler, improved and consistent help for children and young people with SEND. The Government claimed these changes would give families greater choice in decisions. The Committee’s new inquiry is intended to review the success of these reforms, how they have been implemented, and what impact they are having in meeting the challenges faced by children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.”

The homepage for the Inquiry is here, and all publications may be found here. You can still make written submissions (see the button on the page):

Young People with SEND

On Tuesday 19th March three young people with SEND gave evidence to the SEND Inquiry. The witnesses were Ben, Eva and Jordan. You can watch the session here:

This link is the same, but comes with BSL and subtitles:

And the TES article: “ 'We're not just SEND, we're humans,' pupils tell MPs

Young people with special educational needs tell Parliamentary committee of their frustrations with a sometimes 'useless' system

“We’re not just SEND,” Ben said. “We are human beings. We are the same as the rest of you. Remember that fact. We’re not a problem, work with us.”

12 The big rise in home-schooling for SEN pupils

This video is little over a year old and still rings true. Is home schooling a form of segregation? (see next article #) 2 minutes.

BBC Family & Education News

More children with special needs are being home-educated. Those who do stay in the system are seven times more likely to be excluded, and the overall number of children being excluded is on the rise for the first time in years. Why?”

13 Segregation is not the answer

The Guardian view on special educational needs - 18th March

“As the proportion of SEN children in alternative schools continues to rise, it’s time to stand up for inclusion

A showdown between parents of children with special needs and the government is coming. Three families from different parts of England have won the right to a judicial review of the funding allocated to local authorities to fulfil their obligation to educate the 253,680 young people in England with an Education, Health and Care plan (EHC) – or “statement” – and the 1,022,535 other children also entitled to some form of SEN support. Such budgets have been stretched beyond breaking point, while the number of children assessed as having special needs has increased for two years in a row until these groups now form 14.6% of the school population – with autistic spectrum disorders the most common type of need for pupils with a statement.

In many ways, life for children with special needs and disabilities has improved immeasurably since Baroness Warnock’s seminal 1978 report. Gone is the discriminatory, prejudicial language of the past, while advances in child psychology and teacher training mean that children struggling with emotional or learning difficulties are less likely to be written off in primary school as simply naughty.”

14 Tribute to a SEND champion; Mary Warnock

Mindful that were it not for the people and parents that came before us, life for our young people with SEND could be a lot worse. Here is a tribute to one of the most influential people in Education. The full article is in the link below.

“Baroness Mary Warnock, who authored a landmark report on children with special educational needs and disabilities, has died at the age of 94.

In 1978, she laid down the blueprint for inclusion in the report of the Committee of Enquiry into the Education of Handicapped Children and Young People.

UCL Institute of Education associate professor Rob Webster has said: “There has not been a more broad-ranging report into special educational needs and disability since the Warnock inquiry… It remains the most comprehensive review of SEND to be commissioned by a UK government.”

The 1981 Education Act followed the report and brought in the first qualified duty to include children with SEND in mainstream schools.”

15 World Social Work Day

And whilst we’re on the subject of inclusion and equal rights - last week also saw World Social Work Day.

“This year’s theme focusses on the social relationships between people’s essential relationships with each other, their environments and their futures.

Dr Rory Truell, IFSW Secretary-General said:

‘There was a famous moment in recent history when politician Margaret Thatcher ushered-in the current global period of conservatism and the dismantling of state services when announcing: “there’s no such thing as society, there are individual men and women”. Thatcher’s view continues to have devastating effects as it remains dominant over many aspects of world and national politics. This 2019 World Social Work Day theme directly addresses this false and brutality conservative dogma. From the social work experience all people are bound together by social relationships that determine the quality and security of life. Worldwide the social work profession will unify in promoting the importance of building policies and practices that recognize, cultivate and enrich our interdependent relationships – for peace, the realization of all people’s equal rights and a sustainable world.’

16 Don't Stop Me Now - World Down Syndrome Day

It was also World Down Syndrome Day last week. This joyous video celebrates to the full length of the Queen song. 4.17minutes

“The project is created and published by the parent-led Down Syndrome awareness organisation "Wouldn't Change a Thing" which exists to create a world where negative, outdated perceptions of Down Syndrome are a thing of the past.”

17 Down Syndrome celebrations – locally

“We are holding our own annual 21&Co Awareness Week on the 21st week of the year as usual. We have several fantastic events - hopefully something for everyone and we hope you will join us.”

Sponsored family walk and picnic with Singing Hands.

Sunday 12th May – 10.30am

Bushy Park

“We take a very manageable walk around Bushy Park followed by our own picnics on the grass of the Woodland gardens and a fantastic session with Tracy from Singing Hands. Please click here for more details and click here to download a sponsorship form. To register your attendance please email with names and numbers. Minimum donation £10 per family on the day, pay online or donate through our website.”

18 “Why It Appears I Let My Autistic Son Get His Own Way”

“To almost anyone who reads about him, comes into my home or works with him, the impression is the same: I let my autistic son get his own way.

What people see is just the tip of the iceberg and the reason I am writing this post is to show that what can seem on the surface one way isn’t always the case.”

19 The Secret Life of Us

…the campaign brings to life the realities of the challenges disabled children, young people and their families face in living a life many take for granted.

“Developed in close partnership with parents, it reveals the parts of their lives that most people simply do not see. We believe that disabled children and their families should have the same opportunities as everyone else. Read our five-step plan to help ensure health and social care services work for disabled children and their families.”

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

With best wishes, Romany




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