• SEND speak

News, Shoes & Drama

Dear All

More national and local news, plus some observations, and dates of local peer support groups and activities…

1. SEND Keep in Touch

2. Mental Health Day – 10th October

3. Observations 1-6

4. A free SEND legal advice clinic to guide you through the jungle

5. SEND Team Coffee Morning (Yr 8 and under)

6. How does high-needs SEND funding work?

7. “Public Accounts Committee launches SEND Inquiry (yes another one)”

8. A story about the cost of Disability told through the tale of two pairs of shoes.

9. Benefits calculator & Grant search

10. SEND Carers Coffee & Chat (SCCC)

11. The Post 16 Maze – Coffee ‘n’ Cake

12. ADHD Kingston & Richmond – forthcoming events

13. Phyz Support Group

14. Marble Hill Community Project

15. Emotional Regulation in SEND: Resources

16. “Mummy did not say this is OK”

17. Energise Holiday Groups

18. Dramatize – free taster sessions

19. Express’ Comedy Night

1 SEND Keep in Touch

Having not written a SENDspeak for a couple of weeks, the deadline for the Energise half-terms activities is today! (see item 17 below).

If you were subscribed to Achieving for Children’s SENDKeepintouch newsletter you might have read about it there already. SENDKeepintouch will appear periodically and they are very open to feedback!

Individuals can sign up to receive future editions here:

2 Mental Health Day – 10th October

Why is there a piece on mental health here? Because the most recent study on young people’s mental health (published last year, and the first in 30 years) showed that 50% of all children and young people with SEND will develop mental health problems. It’s hard having SEND.

“The Mayor’s Peer Outreach Team, in partnership with Thrive LDN, will be hosting an all-day young Londoner-led festival to mark World Mental Health Day on Thursday, 10 October 2019.

The festival will see various activities taking place throughout City Hall over the course of the day – including film screening, creative workshops, presentations and panel discussions.

The event will also provide an important platform to discuss how the whole of London can work together to improve the mental health and wellbeing of all Londoners.

The day will potentially be the largest young Londoner-led event ever held at City Hall.”

3 Observations 1-6

Having moved home recently and not being as heavily involved in the Kingston & Richmond world of SEND, I see how remote many of the activities appear.

This set of observations below, mostly relating to SEND and/or public life, tells me there is space for everyone – no one group can be all things to all people - and it’s better for all of us if there is diversity locally

(ideally, everything would be listed on the Local Offer website, but that’s up to the organisations to do. However the good people at NAS Richmond keep a firm handle on lists and are always worth asking about local resources: )

Observation 1 Replace ‘the’ with ‘a’

A couple of tweets from 25th September…

Whole School SEND


“We're delighted to have the voice of the parent at our @WSSwestmids CPD event, with Zara Bowden from @NNPCF”



“Hey, - come on @WholeSchoolSEND Still not changed? Language and messaging is important. Zara is not the voice of THE parent, she's the voice of the @NNPCF and shares the perspective sanctioned by them and is A parent. Don't be complicit in systematic problems.”

The end of this string was, as the title says, replace ‘the’ with ‘a’. The meaning simply being that one parent does not represent all parents.

One parent can aim to be as representative as possible if they have some research and sanction behind them – but they will still only be representing those they have communicated with.

This is the ongoing argument for listening to as many different people, parents, carers, forums and groups as possible.

Observation 2

Parent Carer Forums (PCF’s)

These are the publicly funded forums for families of children or young people with SEND. There are currently no PCF’s in Kingston or Richmond.

The new Richmond PCF is forming slowly and, as far as I can tell, they are working on their governance etc. My understanding is that in Kingston, there is some discussion about bringing together the PCF and Parent Panel.

I have formally asked Contact for an update for SENDspeak but have received no reply or acknowledgement.

Being mindful of the tweet above, my feeling is that transparency is key for any group’s integrity and independence. After all the brouhaha of the initial PCFs meetings last autumn, a progress report on the Local Offer from the (also) publicly funded Contact would perhaps be courteous?

Observation 3 Local Parent Panels

Via the grapevine, the Council organised Parent Panels’ for both Richmond and Kingston are doing good works; but there isn’t yet a formal update or progress report for these two groups either.

Fair enough, the summer holidays are only just over and we’re all busy. But… if Achieving for Children are going to cite the Parent Panel work within their reports to the DfE and the like, then it might be a good idea to make information readily available about the projects being undertaken or contributed to by these groups.

…and by that, I mean a single page easy read update, not text buried within a long report!

Observation 4

Being everywhere & personal

Twitter, social media etc can be hard to follow and can be quite threatening - if you say the wrong things, folks may come after you on Twitter and sometimes it gets personal. This from Ian Thomas at Kingston:

Ian Thomas CBE


“ 1) Not ok. Toxicity has crept into our public life where some people have no regard for respect/decency.

@Solace_UK has commissioned a piece of work on bringing 'Nolan Principles' into 21st century. I've asked to include social media in scope to tackle keyboard indecents/ trolls.”

Observation 5

There’s lots of space

This leads me on to another twist… where the local politics between groups risk inhibiting open and fair communication.

For instance, Skylarks charity (was MeToo&Co) aims to be a hub (or nest as they’re now saying) for all parents of children with SEND. That’s great and they do some truly good work and make a great deal of noise about being ‘open to all’.

But if any organisation, and for instance the 'open to all ' Skylarks, decline to promote some activities, organisations or local services (including SENDspeak btw) then is that a form of censorship, a cultural mis-fit or perhaps very specific criteria?

Whilst exclusion of any kind is a bug bear of mine, my observation here is that there’s lots of space and support needs; whether that be peer support, services or simply signposting to information. If you put all your eggs in one basket, or one organisation, you could be missing out.

The newly formed SCCC in Barnes (see item 10 below) is a case in point – there was nothing coming their way from any of the local organisations, so they set up something; just something informal in their neck of the woods. It’s taken off and well done to the two sisters and their friends who’ve achieved this!

Whilst we’re at it… A plaudit for Heather Mathew at Richmond CVS who is instrumental in helping small, much needed, groups to get going in the Richmond borough. In terms of SEND and Richmond, Heather has guided TAG Youth Club, Action Attainment, SEND Carers Coffee & Chat and the missed SEND Family Voices. (KVA performs as similar function in Kingston)

Observation 6

Mount Olympus it’s not.

Is it helpful for organisations or individuals representing organisations saying “You can’t trust them” about the statutory services? What affect does that have on an already stressed family?

The statutory services are staffed by people who have a duty to follow the complex rules and laws of the SEND system (aka the jungle). Most people who work in this world of SEND do so because they care (frankly, I wouldn’t fancy their job!)

Let’s not expect the statutory services to be gods – because they’re not.

4 A free SEND legal advice clinic to guide you through the jungle

Tania Tirraoro for Special Needs Jungle, 17th September

“You can find free, personalised advice, from the Information, Advice and Support Service (SEND IASS) that is the duty of the LA to provide at arms-length, or from IPSEA, SOSSEN, and Contact. You can also find much information on this site, although we are not a support service. All these services are very busy, given the mess SEND is in.

But did you know there is another free source of advice?

The Queen Mary Legal Advice Centre, run by Queen Mary University London, has launched a small specialist clinic for families struggling with getting SEND advice. Barrister, Frances Ridout, who is Director of the Legal Advice Centre (CLE) is here to tell you all about it and how you can use the service.”

5 SEND Team Coffee Morning (Yr 8 and under)

The SEND Team coffee morning is an informal event for families with children in Year 8 and below.

Friday 6th December - 10am to 11.30am

Heatham House, Whitton Road, Twickenham, TW1 1BH

“There will be an introduction at the beginning to introduce the team. Following feedback from parents at previous events, we will also at this event be giving information/guidance about Annual Reviews, the process and the expectations of the schools, parents and the Local Authority.

Following this there is an opportunity for you to network and to meet with your EHC Coordinator over a cup of tea or coffee. We would really like to see as many of you as possible, so in order to help us plan for this event, please book a place through our coffee mornings Eventbrite page:

If you are unable to book online please contact our SEND Team on 020 8547 5872 or email: and we would be happy to book a place for you.”

6 How does high-needs SEND funding work?

Helen Ward for TES, 8th September

“Councils get extra funds to ensure children with high needs have the support they need, but what powers do they have?

There has been growing concern over funding for children with special educational needs and disabilities, with campaigners warning that the system is "failing children".

The government has now announced an extra £700 million for SEND in 2020-21. But already at least one in five councils has a deficit in its education funding serious enough to require it to submit a recovery plan to the Department for Education.

Here is what you need to know about how much control local authorities have over how they spend high-needs money.”

7 “Public Accounts Committee launches SEND Inquiry (yes another one)”

Tania Tirraoro for Special Needs Jungle, 26th September

“Another day, another SEND inquiry. It seems that inquiries into SEND are like buses. None for ages then three come along at once.

As soon as MPs were back in parliament yesterday after the cancelled prorogation, the Public Accounts Committee announced it’s launching an inquiry into support for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities in England.

What, another inquiry, I hear you say? How much evidence do they need that SEND is in crisis?

So, okay, a report from the NAO and an inquiry from the Public Accounts Committee may be a natural occurrence, but wouldn’t it make sense to wait until after the Education Committee SEND inquiry reports to see what gaps there are and prevent a repetition of what has already been published?

You might think so, but I’m not sure parliament thinks in joined-up sentences like that. In any case, the first hearing takes place on Monday 30th September – yes, next week! And it had better be quick at evidence-gathering because the way things are heading a General Election may be in the offing sooner rather than later.

How can you take part?

If you haven’t got inquiry fatigue yet, you can submit your views via document upload on the parliament website here:

8 A story about the cost of Disability told through the tale of two pairs of shoes.

Written by Emily Hudson (facebook post made public, for sharing)

“Once upon a time there were 2 brothers who needed black shoes for school. ''Come on Mummy, let's go to Asda'' said the younger brother, so off they walked to Asda returning with a pair of Batman light up black shoes for £13.

The older brother needed something a bit different as his toes often curled up and regular shoes with curled up toes were painful. They wheeled off to the shops and returned empty handed.

So, they went online and found the perfect shoe in America with a zipper that opened up the whole shoe meaning no more curled up toes. Mummy paid the £59.62 for the shoes, £1.78 foreign exchange transaction fee, £0.50 foreign transaction purchase fee and the £18.55 Customs charge, making a total of £80.45.

And then both boys had comfy, smart shoes for school and Mummy was grateful for Disability Living Allowance because things that are a little bit different cost an enormous amount more.”

9 Benefits calculator & Grant search

Something that may be helpful for us, or for our young adults (link below).

“Check benefit entitlement

You can use the Turn2Us benefits calculator to access independent information on welfare and disability benefits and other sources of financial help.

The calculation takes about 10 minutes, but it will help you to find out what benefits you may be able to can claim.

To do this accurately, it helps if you have details of the following:

· Your earnings and savings, and any other investments or capital

· Any benefits you already claim for the adults and children in the home

· Your annual council tax bill

· Your rent or mortgage payments

· You can save the calculation at any point and come back to it later if needed

Search for a grant

Use the Grant Search to find out what charitable funds you may be eligible for. Use the Grants Search

Find information and help

Find all the support and information you need to access money you're missing out on.”

10 SEND Carers Coffee & Chat (SCCC)

This informal, friendly group of parents & carers meet twice monthly; first Monday of every month (upstairs), then two weeks later they meet in the café downstairs.

Their next meeting dates are:

Monday 7th October from 9.30am (upstairs)


Monday 21st October from 9.30am (downstairs)

Castlenau Community Centre, Stillingfleet Road, Barnes, SW13 9AQ


11 The Post 16 Maze – Coffee ‘n’ Cake

A reminder and a short note to say that the October meeting is cancelled… but they’ll be meeting again in November.

“Please join us at our “parents supporting parents” group for anyone supporting a young person (16 plus) with SEND. We have informal but very helpful discussions on various topics including benefits, wills and trusts, mental capacity and how to get a social worker. More recently we have discussed the tricky issue of summer activities.

We share information, signpost each other and offer support by having monthly coffee and cake sessions. No need to book and all very welcome.”

Friday 18th October - CANCELLED

Friday 15th November

Friday 13th December

…all sessions are 9.30am to 11.30m

at Skylarks at The Crossway, 306 Richmond Road, Twickenham, TW1 2PD.

12 ADHD Kingston & Richmond – forthcoming events

“Our seminars are free but donations of £5 per attendee would be appreciated to help cover our running costs.

Dr Nicoletta Adamo, Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist from Kings College. Dr Adamo will talk about Optimising Treatment: Challenging behaviours

Thursday 10th October - 7.00pm to 9.00pm Heatham House, Whitton Road, Twickenham, TW1 1BH

If your child or teenager has recently been diagnosed with ADHD, do join us at our parents’ information workshop where you can learn about the diagnosis, treatments, school impact and local services available.

Thursday 24th October - 10am to 1pm

Heatham House, Whitton Road, Twickenham, TW1 1BH

Email to book your place. Workshops are free for Richmond and Kingston parents and parents from other Boroughs are welcome but will be charged.”

123 Magic behaviour programme

AfC are running a behaviour management programme for parents of children

aged 2-12 with ADHD.

Thursday 7th November - 10.30am to 12.30pm for 5 weeks.

To book your place contact Karen Williams: T: 020 8547 6965 M: 07771 974388.

13 Phyz Support Group

“Children with physical disabilities and their families have a particular range of things to deal with – the members of Phyz have all sorts of experience: various types of physiotherapy, equipment from standing frames to installing a lift at home, encounters with orthopaedic surgeons, experiences with hippotherapy, riding for the disabled, hydrotherapy and adapted sailing: we’ve navigated the minefields of wheelchair vehicles, cursed inaccessible public transport and toilets, deciphered the blue badge and taxi-card schemes, grappled with supporting our children in school and yet we are still learning and still have much to share.

Phyz Group is a support group for parents and carers of children with physical disabilities. They hold regular coffee morning with us from 10.00 to 12 midday on Fridays to provide support, information and share experiences.”

Friday 11th Oct 201910:00 am - 12:00 pm

To find out more, please contact Penny, Stacey and Sylvie on

14 Marble Hill Community Project

The Marble Hill Playcentre has been an invaluable playscheme for over 40 years; recently it was in danger of closing. Happily, the are positive plans, read more here:

“Marble Hill Adventure Playcentres, Skylarks and OKMT have come together to share a vision of re-imagining Marble Hill Adventure Playground.”

15 Emotional Regulation in SEND: Resources

Teaching Emotional Regulation as a Behaviour Strategy

This is a teachers’ resource, but open to all…

“The ability to regulate our emotions should not be presumed, emotional regulation is a skill and needs to be learned, sometimes through explicit instruction. Recognising your own emotions and identifying effective strategies for managing these is a key skill for any child.”

16 “Mummy did not say this is OK”

Diversity is the key to our survival: The Shoeness of a Shoe - 11.29 minutes

“When her daughter Ella was seven years old, she lost her eyes, and it meant Elly had to look again at everything. Ella taught her to #flipthenarrative around how we 'see' people like Ella. That every human is diverse, and that although we are all different, we are the same. We are one. It's vital that we change the whole conversation from a deficit to a positive and in doing so, change the world – to become again a place of shared difference, diversity and understanding - that our strength lies within this not in our fears or misunderstandings

For five years Elly has developed a unique approach (thanks to her greatest teacher - Ella), to rebuild her daughter’s trust in the world and work towards healing her trauma. Elly employs and manages an 'A Team' of Intervenors and an 'out of the box' approach for education. She has shared #flipthenarrative at many events over the past 12 months and is learning daily from colleagues in the fields of SEND, trauma, education, health and social care. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.”

17 Energise Holiday Groups

This link will take you to two more links, one for Kingston and one for Richmond. Having not sent a SENDspeak for a couple of weeks, this is a bit tight (!?) for the deadline of replying today, 30th September. However, it is always worth contacting the organisers and asking…

18 Dramatize – free taster sessions “A theatre company for individuals with learning disabilities gains funding to expand into Richmond! Try out one of their new workshops for FREE! All sessions are fully accessible to all levels of ability.”

Acting Mondays 1.30-2.30pm, Ages 18+

Creative Movement Tuesday 10-11am, Ages 18+

Zumba Tuesday 11am -12pm, Ages 18+

Acting Tuesdays 4.30-5.30pm, Ages 13-18

Zumba Tuesdays 5.30-6.30pm, Ages 13-18

Sign up for a free taster session:

19 Express’ Comedy Night

Come and join Express for a great night of comedy for a great cause! These are always popular, early booking is recommended.

Friday 18th October - Doors 7.30pm Show 8.00pm

The Cornerhouse, Surbiton

Express is a 'not for profit' community organisation, supporting autistic people 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




Data Protection Notice on Cookies:  This site uses cookies; they capture how many 'visits' each page of this website receives. That's it. We'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies as you use this website.

© 2018 SENDspeak. Proudly created with