• SEND speak

Scrutiny, News & Socks

Dear All

If all else fails, you can amuse yourself by making a facemask from an odd sock. It works! See item 21.

1. Education Committee - Accountability Hearing #2

2. News from Richmond PCF (Parent/Carer Forum)

3. Parent/Carer Consortium (Kingston)

4. News from AfC (Achieving for Children)

5. COVID-19 information – evidence of eligibility

6. The Audit (Richmond)

7. Getting the word out there – local events

8. Express CIC – keeping in touch

9. Richmond Mencap’s Power Hour

10. Richmond Mencap Survey

11. Saving SOS!SEN…

12. Council for Disabled Children – weekly FAQ’s

13. Richmond Citizen’s Advice

14. A brief journey through Art History (pictures and music only)

15. Design your NHS Teddy Bear (deadline 8th May)

16. Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)

17. Kew Gardens virtual tours

18. Makaton Signed Story: Amazing by Singing Hands

19. BBC Parents' Toolkit: SEND

20. Beating the Virus (free book)

21. Making a Facemask from a Sock

1 Education Committee – Accountability Hearings #2

Monday 27 April 2020 Meeting started at 9.29am, ended 11.13am

On Monday the Education Committee held an accountability session with Ofsted. They asked Her Majesty’s Chief Inspectors (HMCI) questions on a wide range of topics including SEND.

The opening…

Q1 Chair: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to the Education Select Committee’s second virtual public meeting. Today we are taking evidence from Amanda Spielman, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, and Matthew Coffey, the Chief Operating Officer at Ofsted. Today’s session is an accountability hearing with Ofsted. We will be asking questions about the impact of coronavirus on Ofsted’s work and responsibilities and also some wider accountability questions, because it is vital that, with everything going on at the moment, scrutiny of important areas must not be overlooked. I welcome the witnesses to the meeting. Could you both introduce yourselves and your titles for the benefit of those watching on

Parliament TV, please?

Amanda Spielman: My name is Amanda Spielman and I am Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills.

Matthew Coffey: Good morning. My name is Matthew Coffey and I am Ofsted’s Chief Operating Officer.

Q2 Chair: Thank you. According to the DfE figures released very recently, only 5% of children in need and pupils with EHC plans are attending school. I know that the DfE has recently set up a joint task force with Ofsted and that DfE personnel are working alongside redeployed Ofsted inspectors in regional teams. Could you talk us through the process that you have used to decide which local authorities need most help and how you have prepared your inspectors to deliver that support?”

The transcript for the session (from which the extract above it taken) is now available here:

Or you can watch the meeting here:

There is a total of 73 questions within the meeting.

The impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services

The link to the Committee’s home page on this Inquiry is here:

“The inquiry will look at how the outbreak of COVID-19 is affecting all aspects of the education sector and children’s social care system and will scrutinise how the Department for Education is dealing with the situation.”

2 News from Richmond PCF (Parent/Carer Forum)

“Like many parents at the moment, the steering group of the Richmond Parent Carer Forum have been overwhelmed by the challenges of guiding our kids through the lockdown and caring for them at home 24/7. We are, however continuing the meet regularly with representatives from Achieving for Children and the Clinical Commissioning Group and we want to ensure that we are representing as accurate a picture as possible of the needs of all our families at the present challenging time. We would like to hear about your experiences and what additional support and resources you currently need.

Please email us at,uk with any feedback, queries or problems and we will do our very best to help you find solutions and ensure that AfC and Richmond Council are putting the right support in place to meet everyone’s needs. All feedback is anonymous and we do not share any information that could identify who has contacted the PCF.

We met (virtually) with the Director of Children’s Services and AfC staff on Monday and one of the issues that we raised related to exercise outside of the home for children and young people with additional needs. It hasn’t been widely reported, but the Government changed the lockdown restrictions for those with additional needs on 9th April to allow them to exercise outside of the home 2-3 times a day and to travel to an appropriate location in order to do so. The guidance remains that you should only do this if it is necessary for your child/ren’s welfare and that you should maintain social distancing whenever you are away from home. We were concerned that parents were not aware of these changes and might be worried about being challenged if they took their children out more than once a day. We’re very happy to report than AfC have heard us and have worked very swiftly to produce a letter proving that your child or young person is eligible for more outdoor time. You can register for this by filling out a short form here:

AfC have also co-ordinated with the local police service and officers will be briefed about this process.

Another issue that we talked about was the inconsistency in support from schools for children with EHCPs and which children can be in school. In the first instance you should contact your school’s head teacher or SENCo, but if you are still unable to resolve the problem a helpline has been set up. You can call 020 8547 5872 or email . Please let us know what your experience of the helpline is so that we can help ensure that it is working for everyone.

We are hoping to make occupational therapy resources available to families that are finding it difficult to get equipment to use at home, but we need to know what type of equipment is needed and how many families are struggling with this. Please let us know if your child or young person has equipment recommended by their OT or specified in their EHCP that you need at home.

If you are worried about these or any other issues, please do get in touch with us. If you would like to speak to a member of the team then please include your phone number and a good time of day to call and we will contact you as soon as we can.

We would also like more parents to join the Steering Group of the Parent Carer Forum. If this is something that you would be interested in doing then please send us an email, we would love for you to join us!

Best wishes,

Claire Richmond, Richmond PCF Co-chair”

3 Parent/Carer Consortium (Kingston)

The Parent Carer Consortium in Kingston continues, and has (or is?) morphing into the new Kingston Parent Carer Forum. You can read the minutes of their latest meeting with AfC here:

4 News from AfC (Achieving for Children)

Last week, AfC wrote to all Parent/Carers plus Children and Young People. Here is an extract: “We are also doing additional work to plan for those children and young people, whether they have an EHC plan or not, who will have found the current events particularly difficult for their emotional wellbeing and the impact that this may have on returning to a school routine when that happens.

If you have any questions about the support your child is receiving during this time, the best place to contact is their nursery, school or college. After you have done this, if you still have any questions please call 020 8547 5872 or email

You can read both the letter and message here, dated 23rd April:

5 COVID-19 information – evidence of eligibility

AfC have responded to families concerns for ‘evidence’ regarding the relaxing of the government guidelines that allow children and young people to exercise more…

“If you would like a letter to confirm your eligibility on official headed paper signed by the Council's Director of Children's Services, please complete this form.”

“You can find contact details for the therapy services, as well as many other useful resources on the Local Offer here:”

6 The Audit (Richmond)

There is an update on the Local Offer pages (see second link below) dated 20th April, which includes a link to a report to Council. Extract below:

“3.7 Emerging findings

Three common themes have been identified by the auditors from the cases that

have been reviewed to date. These are: (a) inconsistent recording-keeping and use

of the electronic case management system; (b) actions identified in annual reviews

do not consistently lead to an amended EHC Plan being issued in a timely manner;

and (c) inconsistent communication with parents and carers. The most common

issue relates to updating EHC Plans in a timely manner following an annual review

and this will require a significant focus. Further details on these issues will be set

out in the independent auditor’s final report.”

“The LGSCO review - keeping families informed”

7 Getting the word out there – local events

Whilst putting this SENDspeak together, I looked at the What’s On (events) page on the Local Offer. Now I understand that all physical events are cancelled or postponed, but with so many local organisations arranging virtual events… why can’t these be put up onto the Local Offer ‘What’s On’ pages?

Perhaps listing, with contact details, the virtual events from the likes of TAG, Mencap and so on would make life seem a little more… normal?

Add to that, there’s loads going on! The response from the voluntary sector and support groups has been fantastic!

I asked the Karen at the Local Offer.

“You have a point there and organisations can still do this but haven't chosen to do so. We don't have capacity to do this for them currently unfortunately.

Before any online activities cropped up we made the decision to blank calendar just to get all the existing things off display. Where we can we are adding links to organisations that we know are doing things and other links in the special COVID sections.”

So, dear organisations, please do put your events on to the Local Offer. Whilst you can reach those people on your own mailing lists, there may be some who not know of your sterling works and perhaps the Local Offer website will reach them.

8 Express CIC – keeping in touch

“We are still here during this difficult time, offering support or just a friendly chat - contact us on or 020 83904273.

This is an anxious time for everyone, but it is particularly challenging for our children and young people whose routines and way of life has drastically changed. Our therapists are running some groups and 1:1 sessions. We are offering these sessions free of charge to our current group attendees and have received some funding for a limited number of sessions. Contact us for further information.

We have also moved our mums support group online using zoom and a very active WhatsApp group. Its great to see how much people are supporting each other and the strength everyone is getting from the group. If you would like details of the group and access details please do contact us.”

9 Richmond Mencap’s Power Hour

“We all hope you are safe and well.

Richmond Mencap would love to invite you to our next Power Hour! Every week, Richmond Mencap staff will host a live video chat where we will play games, solve puzzles and catch up on how everyone is doing. We will be hosting two sessions this week, one for young people, and one for over 18s.

The young persons' session will be from 16:00-17:00 on Friday 17th April. We will be hosting the video chat on Zoom with details on how to enter below.

If you have any questions about the event, let us know and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We look forward to seeing you there!”

To join the Power Hour, please contact Richard, Rupert or Laura using the contact details in item 10 (below).

10 Richmond Mencap Survey

A short survey…

“We hope that you are doing well and have been able to enjoy some of the sun over the weekend.

In order to deliver the best services possible during this time, we have made a quick survey for you to fill in.

As you may know, we have been delivering befriending calls, funmail newsletters with games/activities, and our Power Hour on Zoom that we do every Friday. However, we want to check if there's anything more we can do for you over the coming weeks.

If you have a moment, please click below to answer all our questions. The more feedback we have, the better!”

If you have any questions about the survey or what we're offering, please let us know and we will get back to you as soon as possible!”

Richard, Rupert and Laura

Richmond Mencap

T: 020 8744 1923



11 Saving SOS!SEN…

For many voluntary sector organisations, their ability to raise funds has been devastated by COVID-19. SOS!SEN is one such organisation. Here is their fundraising page on Total Giving…

12 Council for Disabled Children – weekly FAQ’s

“Further to the recent launch of our CDC Questions email please click on the link to download the latest in the series of weekly CDC FAQs:”

13 Richmond Citizen’s Advice

With thanks to NAS Richmond for this news…

“To those of you who live in Richmond Borough, here is some information about Citizens Advice Richmond and some changes to their advice services during these uncertain times.

Citizens Advice Richmond has now re-configured their advice services which are delivered by phone and email. Full details of their services are on the home page of their website - , including the Adviceline number, email advice form and a link to their bespoke benefits calculator. “

14 A brief journey through Art History (pictures and music only)

Found on Facebook, video of just under 2 minutes

“One of my students shared this brief video, which I think is quite amusing, especially for those of us who teach art history introductory courses or those who just love art. We can all use something to smile about these days!”

15 Design your NHS Teddy Bear (deadline 8th May)

John Lewis “are launching a competition to find a superhero teddy bear, and we need your help designing it. The winning teddy will be sold in John Lewis and Waitrose shops later this year, with 100% of the profits going to the NHS

Share your superhero teddy bear design with us by 5pm on 8 May 2020.

Template and T&Cs on this page (scroll down to the end…)

16 Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)

This week the WWT launched their Home Learning Service…

“This week’s resources are on the theme ‘habitats’, part of your child’s primary science curriculum.

No matter how much green space you have access to, there will be something for your children here. Follow the link below to access our tailored lesson plans, mini-pond creation video and a fun quiz to test your wetland knowledge

More resources next week!”

17 Kew Gardens virtual tours

With thanks to JoeF for this link…

“Kew Gardens and Wakehurst (a botanical garden in West Sussex) have introduced new videos online where you can explore the gardens from home. Please see the link below.”

“Travel to the tropics, the desert and the mountains without leaving the house with our seasonal footage and a sneak peek at our glasshouses across Kew and Wakehurst. These links will take you to our YouTube channel, where there's more to explore.”

18 Makaton Signed Story: Amazing by Singing Hands

5.44 minutes 😊 You can watch the story, and subscribe to these weekly stories using the link below

19 BBC Parents' Toolkit: SEND

SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) resources, activities and support to help you and your family during lockdown.

20 Beating the Virus (free book)

The book is free, but you must go through the checkout process to download it.

“A short wordless story, that will help people to understand what to do if you have Coronavirus and how to keep yourself and those who you care about safe.

The story also shows how to safely help others who may be self-isolating. Supplementary text at the end of the story gives information on where people can seek help if they are unwell and signposts to other useful resources.”

21 Making a Facemask from a Sock

Short and Sweet – and it works!! 42 seconds

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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