• SEND speak

Summaries, 2xDCS & videos

Dear All

Struggling a bit to find jolly items for this issue of SENDspeak. The first and last items are positive though!

1. Family Matters Workshop on Speech, Language and Communication Needs

2. Summary of the meetings on a new parent/carer forum

3. SEND Ofsted report for Kingston - published

4. Two (2) x DCS

5. ‘Devastating’ cuts hit special educational needs

6. Reminder – questions about cuts (Richmond)

7. Moor Lane and Croft Cottage Respite Centre Service

8. Council for Disabled Children – Autumn Digest

9. #ChildrenAtTheHeart campaign (page 4)

10. Case law update from Steve Broach (page 21)

11. Two videos – both with music

1 Family Matters Workshop on Speech, Language and Communication Needs

Family Matters’ next workshop is about support for special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools.

Tuesday 27 November – 10am to 1.30pm

Venue is Ruils, The DAAC, 4 Waldegrave Road, TW11 8HT

“This workshop will be run by Alison Huneke from Afasic, a parent-led charity representing the interests of children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). The charity provides information and support for parents and others through their website, factsheets and information leaflets and parents’ helpline.”

Please book through this link:

2 Summary of the meetings on a new parent/carer forum

So… I decided to go to both these meetings. A brief summary follows:

There were 23 attendees to the meeting in Richmond

There were 14 attendees to the meeting in Kingston

Both groups of parents agreed that every single parent of a child or young person with SEND should have an opportunity to comment on a new Parent Carer Forum (PCF). Potentially, this is 4000 families.

Each meeting appointed (persuaded?) one attendee to draft a letter for each borough, and to write this in collaboration with each other and the meeting attendees.

Questions - Questions

A key question was should there be one PCF for both boroughs or one for each borough?

In my opinion, there is no right or wrong. Whilst each Council commissions Achieving for Children (AfC) to provide their children’s services, plus separately the Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG’s) children’s health services sit under one single commissioner, the two Councils themselves are very different.

Is there greater strength for families in organising themselves as per the providers (AfC and the CCG), or as per the commissioners (the Councils). Does the Council have more influence over the services, or do the providers? Perhaps an answer is two separate forums that focus on their borough, work closely together and share resources? If there is one forum, the funding is effectively doubled and the resources definitely are shared. There were also questions about one borough’s voice dominating the other.

There is a question too about whether any one forum can represent all parents.

Do parents even need an ‘official’ parent carer forum to have their voice heard? If the local services seek family’s views rigorously, then perhaps not. The idea of an official forum is to ensure (force?) authorities to at least work with some parents. If the forum itself is not transparent and rigorous in reaching out to all families, then is the forum doing families justice?

What next?

My recollection from the meetings is that Contact have agreed to work with AfC to ensure this letter is sent to every family on the SEN database (ie those with EHCP’s) and also through the school SENCo’s to capture those on SEN Support.

I understand that Contact have also been asked to develop a survey to support this process - rather than just the two meetings last week (and now a letter).

Let’s see what happens next.

2 SEND Ofsted report for Kingston - published

The report has done the social media rounds in the past week, but if you’ve missed it, the link to the full report is below. Kingston have received a Written Statement of Action and the actions (on page 11) are:

“The local area is required to produce and submit a Written Statement of Action to

Ofsted that explains how the local area will tackle the following areas of significant


· the overall poor quality and monitoring of EHC plans, including contributions from

health professionals

· the timeliness of leaders ensuring that the annual review process and any

subsequent amendments to EHC plans are consistently made in line with the SEN

code of practice

· the strategic leadership and monitoring of the CCG’s work in implementing the

2014 reforms

· to ensure that there is a productive and positive relationship between parents and

parent representatives, including a parent carer forum.”

The full report is here:

This is a shorter link, and covers past reports about Kingston:

Revisits from the Inspectors On Friday 9th November, Ofsted and CQC announced they are to revisit local areas with a Written Statement of Action for SEND

“The revisits programme is due to start in December 2018 and will run alongside the current programme of local area SEND inspections, which is in place until 2021.

The revisits do not represent a re-inspection of SEN provision. Inspectors from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will only revisit those areas which were asked to produce a WSoA and the focus of the visit will be on the progress made since the original inspection.”

3 Two (2) x DCS

Some readers may know that current Director Children’s Services (DCS) for Kingston & Richmond is moving to a new role. Being DCS for one borough is a big job, being DCS for two boroughs, with two very different Councils… It’s still a difficult job and there is limited money to spend wisely (see item 4 below).

The Director for Children’s Services (DCS) is a ‘statutory post’; that means that the Councils must have one (a DCS) and pay their salary (ie they are employed by the Councils, not AfC).

Whilst there are no names formally announced, there are to be two (2) DCS; one for each borough. So… one for Kingston and one for Richmond. My suggestion is to keep an eye on the Local Offer and/or Council websites for more news.

4 ‘Devastating’ cuts hit special educational needs

There’s no doubt about the funding crisis as this article from today’s Observer shows. It’s not often our world of SEND makes the mainstream papers.

“Council overspending on children’s special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has trebled in just three years and is continuing to increase, with councils having to raid hundreds of millions from their overall schools budget to cope. The Observer has identified 40 councils that have either cut special needs funding this year, are considering making cuts or are raiding other education budgets to cope next year.”

5 Reminder – questions about cuts (Richmond)

A reminder that this survey for families in the borough of Richmond is still open. There is likelihood of a similar survey in Kingston, but no details yet.

“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:

Full details are on the Local Offer, here:

6 Moor Lane and Croft Cottage Respite Centre Service

In summary (extract)…

20 parents/carers responded to the survey compared to approximately 42 children and young people who are currently receiving overnight respite care. Of the respondents, 12 currently use overnight respite care. As a crude percentage therefore, 29% of current users responded to the survey.

From the 20 respondents who completed the survey, staffing emerged as a key priority

throughout as an important aspect to ensure a positive experience for the children and young people. Question 4, which gathered the views of parents/carers in terms of what would be crucial in delivering an excellent overnight short break service, received the majority of the feedback. Staffing featured in 9 of the 15 comments. Parent/carers expressed that it was important for staff to be appropriately trained and highly experienced at supporting children who have special needs and that staffing should be consistent to ensure continuity of care.

The full report:

“Achieving for Children have completed the consultation with parents, carers and children in Kingston and Richmond for the new respite centre provider specification. The survey responses have been analysed and a summary report can be found here on our Local Offer page:

Thank you to all those that took the time to complete the survey.

The draft service specification will now be reviewed based on the feedback to ensure it reflects the views of parents, carers and their children.”

7 Council for Disabled Children – Autumn Digest

The CDC Digest is a compilation of national news, campaigns and resources. You can download and read the full digest through this link:

Here are a couple of highlights…

8 #ChildrenAtTheHeart campaign (page 4)

“We know that services for disabled children and young people are vastly underfunded. The Disabled Children’s Partnership published economic research earlier this year which found a £1.5billion shortfall for disabled children’s services. This represents just a small part of the overall gap in funding for children and young people’s services.”

Read more about the campaign here:

And sign the public petition here:

9 Case law update from Steve Broach (page 21)

Often in this country, the law is not fully ‘tested’ until a precedent is set; this is case law and provides the standards for future rulings (or cases). Page 21 of the CDC Digest covers this month’s six updates.

Helpfully, Steve Broach also tweeted each one and here they are:

1. Bumper crop of case law updates for @CDC_tweets this quarter - first up, KE v Bristol on local authority consultation and other duties re #SEND budget cuts:

2. Second @CDC_tweets case law update - Mr and Mrs C’s case getting read of the ‘tendency to physical abuse’ exemption from Equality Act protections for disabled children in schools:

3. Third @CDC_tweets case law update - important guidance from the Upper Tribunal on the relevance of children’s wishes and feelings to placement choice in EHC Plans:

4. Fourth @CDC_tweets case law update - definitive word from the Supreme Court on the duty to accommodate children under section 20 of the Children Act 1989:

5. Fifth @CDC_tweets case law update - more important Upper Tribunal guidance, this time on decisions to cease to maintain EHC Plans for young people:

6. Sixth (count ‘em) @CDC_tweets case law update - school transport *can* be special educational provision (but generally isn’t):

All 35 of CDC’s case law updates on key legal issues for disabled children can be found in the @CDC_tweets Directory:

10 Two videos – both with music

Pick a greeting and have an awesome morning...Way to go Mrs. Judy!!! I love my LLE teachers!” (1.05mins)

“Chris González is the first person with Down syndrome to own a business in Puerto Rico. His food truck CHRISin Limites hit the road a year after Hurricane Maria.” (2.03 mins)

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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