• SEND speak

One Parent’s request, Cuts?, News & Assistive Technology

Dear All

There’s no shortage of news, however I really wanted to highlight one parent’s request:

SENDspeak covers national and local news, but without a doubt, peer support (other parents), is by far the most powerful support network we all have. Hence, Sam Manning’s request is #1 in this newsletter…

1. Duke of Edinburgh – over 18’s wanted for [SEND] expedition

2. From ‘Contact’: a new parent/carer forum (PCF) for Kingston & Richmond

3. “Have your say on future funding of services for Richmond children and families with SEND” = cuts

4. SEND Newsletter from the Department of Education (DfE) and useful links

5. SEND Inquiry - Oral Evidence: Published October 2018

6. SEN Team; updated contacts

7. Staying safe on-line (and what is ‘humblebragging’?)

8. Assistive Technology – something new

1 Duke of Edinburgh – over 18’s wanted for [SEND] expedition

Doing the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) is a great achievement and Sam Manning’s son Gabriel has managed three of the four goals. These being learning a new skill, something physical, and volunteering. The last is going on an expedition…

“For an autistic young adult finding a centre that will help with the expedition is a challenge. However, I have found an approved centre that would work with a group of special needs people to get them through the bronze award expedition part.

I need to find six more people to join Gabriel to do the expedition. This would be adapted for the special needs. Gabriel is 18 so a similar age range would help the dynamics.

The expeditions can be relatively local and would involve one night in a tent or bunk house.

There is an approx cost of £275 per person and there is kit involved too. The dates will be March or April next year. There may be a practise session before.

If there are any parents that have a cared for young adult then please let me know.

As I said it's very hard to get the expedition part sorted out, but if there are some more people who are interested we may be able to pull it off.”

Sam Manning

If you are interested, please contact Sam on the e-mail address above. If the cost is prohibitive, please also reply and its possible to look into funding (no guarantees!).

2 From ‘Contact’: a new parent/carer forum (PCF) for Kingston & Richmond

Some readers will know of the closure of SEND Family Voices, previously the parent carer forum for Kingston and Richmond. Some readers may also know that I founded SEND Family Voices’ in 2014, but for personal reasons I resigned in May 2018. I was obviously sad that the steering group chose to close the charity at the end of September (and am now writing this newsletter!).

Here is news of how all parents and carers can get involved in defining the terms of a new parent carer forum for Kingston and Richmond.

Detailed information here:

An invitation “to a meeting to discuss how parent participation and co-production might be developed further in your area. It is essential that as parents/carers that it is your voice that is heard in the design and development of services for your children and young people.”

Key dates here:

For RICHMOND parents:

Thursday 8th November - 10.30 to 12.30

Richmond Library Annex, Quadrant Road, Richmond TW9 1DH

For KINGSTON parents:

Friday 9th November, 10.30am to 12.30pm

Surbiton Library Hall, Ewell Road, KT6 6AG

Contact details are:

Catherine Ratcliffe, e-mail

3 “Have your say on future funding of services for Richmond children and families with SEND” = cuts

This item is for families of children and young people in Richmond. The full details are on the Local Offer, here:

This survey is really asking ‘where can we make cuts, where can’t we make cuts’. Not in any way a pleasant subject, but reflective of the national state of play for SEND and Councils. Richmond is struggling, Kingston even more so (but no news of a survey from Kingston Council – yet).

The survey is here:

The consultation closes at midnight on 25 November 2018.

Details of the Drop-In dates are here:

“We will also be holding three public drop-in sessions, where you can meet with representatives of the Council and Achieving for Children (AfC) to discuss the proposals.“

Friday 16 November - 1pm to 2.30pm

Monday 19 November - 7pm to 8.30pm

Tuesday 20 November - 10.30am to 12 noon

The Venue, Heatham House Youth Centre, Whitton Road, Twickenham, TW1 1BH

Please register your attendance for any of the drop-in sessions here:

Of course, it may not make me popular to write this, but it does occur to me that these are really good opportunities to meet representatives of AfC regardless of which borough you live in!

4 SEND Newsletter from the Department of Education (DfE) and useful links

This is the October 2018 edition of the 0-25 Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), Alternative Provision and Attendance Unit Newsletter. You can read the full newsletter following this link (with thanks to the Council for Disabled Children):

The newsletter covers the latest on everything from Relationships and Sex Education consultation, to Exam Arrangements for pupils with Autism*, to SEN Information Reports.

Perhaps the most useful for parents is the final section (page 7 of 9); Development Opportunities and Resources. Topics here are:

· Supporting children and young people with SEND in the health system

· Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan Journey Website**

· Resources available from pdnet *

· Mencap E-learning module

· Autism Education Trust

· Work Experience resources

Whilst these resources are aimed at professionals or commissioners, that’s not to say they aren’t useful for families in terms of knowing what to expect. Also,

* The Local Offer has already uploaded the following:

Exam accommodations for Autistic Students

New resources for schools (newest are those pages on physical disability)

** and here is the l ink to the EHC Plan Journey website

“The site provides real-life examples of what it is like to go through the EHC process from the perspective of children, families and young people who are going, or have gone, through it.”

5 SEND Inquiry - Oral Evidence: Published October 2018

This is not Déjà vu – it’s just that there was another round of oral evidence last week. The reasons why are below

Reminder: what is this Inquiry 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.”

Latest oral evidence given by:

Justin Cooke Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Ambitious about Autism

Matt Keer Parent & contributor to the Special Needs Jungle website

Julie Cordiner Education Funding Specialist, School Financial Success

Alyson Shields Head of Education and Supported Learning, New College Durham

Helen Wallace Headteacher, Thameside Primary School

David Clarke Deputy Director for Education, Oxfordshire County Council

Dr Jackie Lown Head of Children and Young People, Specialist Services, East Riding of Yorkshire Council


Read the transcript here:

And we commend Starlight McKenzie’s blog here:

“Education Select Committee & Parent Voice”

To keep up to date on this Inquiry, keep a note of this link. There have been two rounds of oral evidence published, and there is to be written evidence published soon.

Special Needs Jungle’s summary and commentary on this week’s national SEND news:

6 SEN Team; updated contacts

Bit of a long link, but just to let you all know that the SEN Team case officer lists have been updated:

7 Staying safe on-line (and what is ‘humblebragging’?) Peter Cowley’s short (8mins) video presentation on social media and adolescent mental health. Most of it will make sense of course. What might surprise you is that this has been re-published by the joint Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) in response to young people’s concerns about on-line safety!

8 Assistive Technology – something new

With thanks to Karen Lowry at the Local Offer for sending this link…

“Introducing the AT Voice... coming soon.

The AT Voice is a new assistive technology hub inspired by professionals working with disabled students. We will let you know as soon as we go live.” Follow this link to sign up to receive details when the site goes live:

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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