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Further Government advice for all to read and be made aware of...


Please click on the link below to read how Local Authorities are being advised on implementing the new 0 - 25 special needs system.

Although this has been directed at local authorities and their partners, it is essential reading for parents, carers and all those who care and support children and young people with a special educational need or disability...

...A letter from Edward Timpson MP, to parents...

Dear Parents 


This September we're making changes to the law for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The new law will result in changes to the way you and your child receive support from your local council, health and social care services and your child’s nursery, school or college. I therefore wanted to write to you with information about what this means for you. 

A better family centred approach 
Many parents have welcomed the changes the new law brings, particularly the greater focus on personal goals, increased family involvement and improved rights and protections for young people in further education and training. I know that some parents remain concerned about the changes and are nervous about the speed of change. I want to reassure you. This is not about cutting services but about creating a better system that puts you and your child first. It will take time and the changes will be gradually introduced over the next three and a half years. I can also reassure you that the current protections you and your child have will continue and, in many cases, be enhanced further. 

From statements to education, health and care plans 
We are replacing statements of special educational needs and Learning Difficulty Assessments with a single education, health and care (EHC) plan for children and young people with complex needs. The EHC plan will place much more emphasis on personal goals and will describe the support your child will receive while they are in education or training. We’re also introducing personal budgets to accompany this plan to give you more control over the support you and your child receive. The amount you would be given, and how it can be spent, is something that you would agree with your council. 

From School Action and School Action Plus to SEN support 
For children with less complex needs but who still require help we are introducing a new system called special educational needs (SEN) support which replaces School Action and School Action Plus (and the equivalent in nurseries). It will also be available in colleges. The process will be similar but it will be less about counting the hours or resources given to your child at nursery, school or college and more about what your child has achieved as a result. 

Moving to the new system 
If your child already has a statement or Learning Difficulty Assessment they will be transferred to the new system within the next three and a half years. The transfer is likely to happen around transition points in your child’s education such as when they move from primary to secondary school. Your local council will let you know when you are due to switch and there’ll be Independent Supporters on hand to make the transfer as simple as possible. The legislation relating to statements and Learning Difficulty Assessments will be withdrawn when everyone has completed the transition to the new system. 

If your child currently receives help at school through School Action or School Action Plus (or the equivalent at nursery) the transfer to SEN support will take place between September 2014 and spring 2015. It is likely to be during one of your child’s termly reviews. 

Concerns about losing support 
Some parents have expressed concern that their child will lose support because of the changes. I can assure you that no one will be left without support just because of the changes. We have not changed the definition of special educational needs or the basis on which councils determine whether a child needs a statutory assessment. 

Next steps 
I hope this letter helps answer some of your questions about the changes. I’ve focused on the aspects of the reforms that you are likely to be most interested in at the moment but there are lots of other changes being introduced to improve the system. This includes: improved coordination between local authorities, health, care and education providers; greater rights and protections for young people in further education or training; and more control for families. 

Your local council will shortly be publishing a ‘local offer’ which lists the support and services you and your child can access under the new system. If you’d like to get involved in developing this speak to your council or your local Parent Carer Forum. We’ll be issuing a parent and a young person’s guide to the new 0 to 25 Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Code of Practice later in the year and we’ll continue to work closely with our partners to help you and your child prepare for the changes. In the meantime you can speak to the Council for Disabled Children (who have published a guide for parents) Contact a Family, the National Network of Parent Carer Forums or your local council for advice. You can also find more information about the changes on 

Minister for Children and Families 

Top Children & Families Bill Myths – Statements & EHC Plans

Top Children & Families Bill Myths – Statements & EHC Plans 

This information sheet is designed to dispel some of the myths associated with the progress and implications of the Children & Families Bill, with a specific focus on the transition from Statements to the new Education, Health and Care plans. Below are some of the key myths we hear which are NOT TRUE. 

1. Myth: ‘My LA has said they don’t issue statements any more as the system has changed’ 
– Statements will continue to be issued until September 2014. Some local authorities (on the ‘Pathfinder’ programme) are issuing EHC plans early in place of Statements, but these plans will no legal status. After September only EHC plans will be issued and will be legally binding 

2. Myth: ‘My school has said that they don’t have to follow the Code of Practice any more as there is a new one’ 
– The new Code of Practice has not been approved yet, so the current Code will continue to apply until the new Code replaces it which is likely to be September 2014. 

3. Myth:‘My child’s statement will end on 1st  September 2014’ 
– From September 2014 there will be a transitional period (up to 3 years) during which statements can be transferred into EHC plans. A statement will remain valid until an EHC plan has been developed, or is agreed to be no longer necessary. 

4. Myth: ‘I’ve been told that EHC plans are the same as statements and have the same legal duties’
– EHC Plans will have no legal force until September 2014. Like Statements, any specified and quantified Special Educational Provision in the plan will have to be delivered by the local authority and can continue up until the age of 25 if a young person stays in education or training. 

5. Myth:‘My LA has said that only pupils with statements who receive a certain level of funding will get an EHC plan’
– The threshold for EHC plans will be the same as those for Statements, that is where the special educational provision necessary to meet the child or young persons needs cannot be 
reasonably provided within the resources normally available to mainstream schools and early years settings. 

6. Myth: ‘I have been told that if I’m not happy with anything in my child’s EHC plan I can appeal’ – The educational aspects of an EHC Plan can be appealed to the SEND tribunal (from September 2014) in the same way as those of a statement. Arrangements for challenging Social Care and Health are still to be 
finalised, but should be in place by September 2014. 

7. Myth: ‘When I ask for my child to be assessed under the new system the LA must carry out a social care assessment now as well as an assessment of his educational needs’ 
– No this is not true. The duty to assess a child’s needs is only in relation to their educational needs not any social care needs they – or you as their carer – may also have. This type of assessment still has to be triggered separately by contacting your children’s social work team. Once is has happened any information should be recorded in the EHC plan. 
Where can I find out more? IPSEA ( is a registered charity offering free and independent advice to parents of children with special educational needs in England and Wales. IPSEA’s general advice line is 0800 018 4016. 

If you need to talk to someone you can contact your local parent partnership service who offer free, impartial, confidential information and advice to parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs. You can find your local service here: or call 020 7843 6058. 

Contact a Family ( have a Helpline for parents of children and young people with SEN - helpline 0808 
808 3555 / email

Children and Families Act Gains Royal Assent

Children and Families Act 2014 Gains Royal Assent

The new Children and Families Act - given royal assent last month - will mean changes to the law to give greater protection to vulnerable children, better support for children whose parents are separating, a new system to help children with special educational needs and disabilities, and help for parents to balance work and family life.
 The act also ensures changes to the adoption system can be put into practice, meaning more children are placed faster. Reforms for children in care can be implemented including giving them the choice to stay with their foster families until their 21st birthday.
 The Act includes a number of new measures to protect the welfare of children, including:
·         Changes to the law to give children in care the choice to stay with their foster families until they turn 21
·         A new legal duty on schools to support children at school with medical conditions better
·         Making young carers’ and parent carers’ rights to support from councils much clearer
·         Reforms to children’s residential care to make sure homes are safe and secure, and to improve the quality of care vulnerable children receive
·         A requirement on all state-funded schools - including academies - to provide free school lunches on request for all pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2
·         Amendments to the law to protect children in cars from the dangers of second-hand smoke.
The Act will also help people to better balance their work and home life with the following measures:
·         From April 2015, mothers, fathers and adopters can opt to share parental leave around their child’s birth or placement. This gives families more choice over taking leave in the first year - dads and mothers’ partners can take up to a year, or parents can take several months at the same time
·         From 1 October 2014, prospective fathers or a mother’s partner can take time off to attend up to 2 antenatal appointments
·         Adoption leave and pay will reflect entitlements available to birth parents from April 2015 - no qualifying period for leave; enhanced pay to 90% of salary for the first 6 weeks; and time off to attend introductory appointments. Intended parents in surrogacy and ‘foster to adopt’ arrangements will also qualify for adoption leave and pay
·         Extending the right to request flexible working to all employees from 30 June 2014
·         Replacing the current statutory procedure, through which employers consider flexible working requests, with a duty on employers to consider requests in a ‘reasonable’ manner
For more details on the Act and how it will affect you, please click on the following link:

What's impacting on disabled children and young people in Portsmouth?

CWD Priority G Board
The CWD Priority G Board was set up approximately 3 years ago, as there was not a Priority under the Children’s Trust Board Strategy that was looking into matters concerning children and young people with disabilities.  It is made up of professionals from the local authority, health, social care, voluntary sector, education and essentially, parent carers.

The Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Reforms
There is currently a Children and Families Bill going through parliament.  Attached to this Bill is a SEN Code of Practice.  Once these have passed through the Lords, which is due to have occurred by next summer, both of these will supersede what was in place before.  These are known as the: SEND Reforms.

The CWD Priority G Board is currently focusing on the SEND Reforms and they are due to be implemented from September 2014.  Some Reforms have already been put into place, like the SEN School Funding.  What this means is that if a child or young person’s SEN cannot be appropriately supported within mainstream schools with a budget of up to £6,000 then the school needs to apply for further funding. 

Education, Health and Care Plan
This will take the shape of an Education, Health & Care Plan (EHC Plan).  This Plan super-cedes a Statement of Special Educational Need and will follow the child or young person from the point of issue until 25 years of age, unless the young person no longer continues in education.

One of the biggest changes is the involvement from the start of the parent carer, and if suitable, the young person themselves.  In the new Plan, an “All About Me” fact sheet about the needs, wants, aspirations of the young person will have to be included.  In fact, once the young person reaches 16, they can become the author of their own Plan and make decisions on where they wish to be educated and what course they would prefer. 

The Local Offer
Another big change is the Local offer.   Every service that has input into a disabled child’s or young person’s life will have to produce a “Local Offer”.  This includes, for example, schools, nurseries, children centres and colleges, organisations like Enable Ability or the Wheelchair and Continence Service. 
For example a school will need to clarify exactly what it can provide, primarily on their school website, although hard copies will be made available on request, for a child with additional needs of up to £6,000.  If that school fails to provide the support it has outlined in its Local Offer, then the parent carer can use it as a means to challenge the school to ensure that the right support is put in place for their child or young person.

Personal Budgets
If you are issued with a Plan, then you, as the parent carer can request a Personal Budget.  This requires further work and the local authority has yet to determine quite how it will work for families, but an example is as such: I currently receive 3 pads per day for each of my children from the Continence Service.  If I requested a Personal Budget, it might mean that from the funding I receive, I could find a cheaper provider other than Tena (for example), to supply the pads and therefore get more pads per day for my children.

Dynamite (disabled young people’s voice)
Dynamite was set up to encourage and involve the young people themselves in the SEND Reforms.  It is for young people aged between 11 – 25 years old.  We have a Youth Worker called Marie Devlin who is travelling around the city to already set-up groups to inform the young people on how they can help.  Each young person who becomes involved with Dynamite and agrees to take part is reimbursed with shopping vouchers of their choice.  This is to thank them for their time and contribution.
There are 3 main ways to encourage young people to get involved:
1.      The local authority wants to produce a DVD from their point of view, as an opportunity for them to say their story.
2.      The local authority would like the young people to be the designers of the “All About Me” part of their Plan.

3.      Dynamite Launch Party
On Wednesday, 19 February, we are inviting the Portsmouth disabled youth to Action Stations! at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, to take part in all the facilities on offer including Lazer Quest and the Helicopter Flight Simulator.  It is from 10 am to 2 pm and there will be Information Stalls and a Futures Opportunities Fair as well.  If you know of anyone who would like to take part, either as a guest or an exhibitor, please let Deirdre or I know.

Portsmouth Parent Voice
Portsmouth Parent Voice is a service for families with children and young people with additional needs and disabilities, 0 – 25 years old.  Parent Voice has two essential roles:

1.      To work together with the local authority to ensure that parent carers have a voice in how services are shaped and delivered locally.  For example, a Parent Carer Co-production Group has been set up to look more deeply into the SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) Reforms that are currently being drawn up for Portsmouth.

2.      To support parent carers, signpost them to other relevant services and inform them on current issues that will affect theirs and their families lives.  For example, we have a Facebook page and a monthly e-newsletter which we email out to all the parent carers and professionals that are on our database.
If you have any questions, please do contact either Deirdre of myself and we will do our best to answer them.

Mary Ive – Coordinator: Portsmouth Parent Voice
Deirdre Smith – Parent Engagement Officer
Marie Devlin – Dynamite Youth Worker

Tel: 07825 185608

Briefing Paper on the SEN Code of Practice

Briefing on the SEN Code of Practice
Please find attached a briefing produced by the National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) Steering Group on the recently published draft SEN Code of Practice.  This briefing is intended to support you in developing a response to the consultation on the draft Code of Practice, which is open until the 9th December 2013.  The NNPCF Steering Group believes that this a is very important consultation opportunity for families of children and young people who are disabled or have additional needs and that it is essential that views on the content of the Code are shared with the Department for Education. 
The NNPCF Briefing contains a basic overview of the document and our initial response to it.  We have referred to our previous contact with forums, both nationally and regionally, to inform this response and to shape our requests for changes and additions to the Code.  We will as an organisation be submitting a more comprehensive response to the Department for Education following further planned events where we will facilitate discussions between Forums and the DfE.

You can contact the NNPCF direct on:

Young People Contribution to the SEN Draft Code of Practice

Young People's Contribution to the consultation on the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice 

Please see attached  the information about changes to the SEN Code of Practice and information on how Young People can contribute.   

The information in the booklets attached is so that young people can understand the questions to answer, and the link to respond is:  

Please share with any families/colleagues who may be able to assist young people with their contribution.
16+ Contribution.pdf (PDF — 1 MB)
COP 11-16.pdf (PDF — 1 MB)

Portsmouth Disability Sports Consultation: SURVEY

Hi Everyone,
The consultation for disability sports has gone live today. The best way to complete is online but a printable copy is also available. The consultation is targeted at any one who has a disability.
Any help you can do to get this consultation out to people with a disability would be greatly appreciated. If you have any events or sessions lined up I would be happy to come along and speak to participants or family and get some forms completed. Please let me know details.
Also, as mentioned previously, this consultation will inform a funding bid to Sport England but I also have some other funding all ready to go. I am looking for organisations to submit an outline plan and costs for new activities for people with a disability. So far, I only have projects in from Portsmouth FC. If you have any projects in mind please let me know. Also, when I get to the stage of submitting to Sport England I will need organisations already identified to deliver specific projects.
Please let me know if you have any questions
Matt Birch
Sports Officer
Portsmouth City Council
023 9284 1193

Your chance to raise your voice and have your say!

On September 10th at the Portsmouth Parent Voice coffee morning, from 10am till 12.00pm, at the Frank Sorrell Centre, Prince Albert Road, Southsea, Commissioning Officers from Portsmouth City Council will be in attendance. 
They will be there to ask for your views and experiences of bringing up a disabled child or young person in Portsmouth and what you, as a parent can do to help influence, shape and change the future for your family. 
The aim of this Consultation is to ask parent carer views on the “Local Offer”. 
What is a Local Offer?
The green paper ‘Support and Aspiration; A New Approach to Special Educational Needs and Disability’ proposes that local authorities provide information on the support available locally, to be known as the ‘Local Offer’, for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) and/or a disability.
The Local Offer will enable young people and their families’ easy access to information about the support that is available.
In spring 2013, the government will publish for consultation more information on the Local Offer, including what should appear in it and who should be involved in producing it.
Please make a note of this date on your calendar or in your diary and make every effort to attend, as your views and voice will be listened to, acted upon and will help to influence things positively for children and young people with a disability in Portsmouth.
If you cannot make this date, please email us with your views and we will ensure that they reach the right person:

Proposed Changes to Statements

10 things you should know if your child is at
School Action and School Action Plus
(Adapted from the Good Schools Guide)
The SEN green paper - Support and Aspiration: A New Approach to Special Educational Needs andDisability (published March 2012 with Next Steps produced in June 2012) proposes sweeping changes to statements and to school action and school actionplus.  These are proposals not tablets of stone, somemay end up on the cutting room floor; others may be kneaded, pummeled andtransmogrified. Absentees may find a presence and those presentmay not yet be correct.
The key points:
1.       Statements will be replaced with a coordinatedEducation Health and Social Care Plan (EHCP). This will provide statutory protection for children and young people. Proposalsinclude integrating the many services and sectors that work to meet the child's needs. Under the present system it isn't always clear what constitutescurriculum/education, health or social care. The integrated plan should enableservices to work together, to meet the child's needs, and remove conflict andcontradiction.
2.      Extending the age group. The current system covers children to age 16 or age 19 (depending onpost-16 provision). EHCPs will extend to age 25 (provided the young person isin school or at college).
3.       Making a simplified service offer. Cutting bureaucracy and making timely, tailored offers are mentioned (but it isn't yet clear how these objectives will beachieved).
4.      School preference. All parents (whether or not their child has anSEN) have the right to express a preference for any state maintained school.This right will continue but 'expressing a preference' is not the same as theright to choose or to name a school. The current position is: that for childrenwith a statutory statement of special educational needs, if a school is named on a statement the school must admit the child, unless doing so can be shown tobe prejudicial to others already at the school. The proposed school preference system appears to be an erosion of the right to a guaranteed admission to theschool named on the statement. No mention is made of independent special schools. Currently local authorities fund a number of places at independent special schools, where this is deemed to be the most appropriate placement for that child. Independent special schools handle some of the most complex,low-incidence (complex/rare) SEN including specialised placements for childrenwith social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and those in need of extensivetherapeutic care. Other independent special schools offer teaching for children with a range of difficulties including dyslexia - many aiming to place childrenback in mainstream school, following a year or two of intensive, specialised help and support. We have seen numerous examples of excellent, targeted provision, which makes a real difference to the child and their life-chances.
5.      Removing the bias towards inclusion. Including children with special needs inmainstream schools has been key policy since the turn of the century. Not all believe a mainstream setting, and 'including' a child in this way, is best.Parents should have a greater say over the type of school their child attends with special school places available to those who need them. We hope the system will give the freedom and the flexibility that parents want and will be fluid enough for the setting to be changed, as necessary e.g. a child with Downs Syndrome may benefit from schooling in a mainstream primary but be better off switching to a special school setting for the secondary years. Again no mention is made of the role of independent special schools and whether parents and those involved with the child will be encouraged to recommend such a placement.
6.      Reducing the time it takes to prepare andreceive a 'statement' (EHCP). It currently takes up to six months to prepare a statement. It is hoped that reducing statement / EHCP time to around 20 weeks will lead to the child's needs being met more effectively. Provided there is sufficient time for the child's case and supporting documentation to be adequately prepared, this should reduce the stress and anxiety experienced by both parent and child.
7.       Increasing screening for SEN. From September 2012 progress checks will be introduced for all two-year-olds to help identify and tackle problems early.Increased screening is welcomed but what matters is what happens as a result of the screening. If difficulties or problems are detected, how quickly will suitable interventions be implemented and by whom? Who will monitor interventions and adjust or adapt them as necessary? Who will be responsible for continued monitoring, target setting and management?
8.      Replacing school action and school action plus with one single category. The number of categories is not especially relevant. Timely, targeted, monitored, effective intervention is. This has yet to be detailed and there are concerns that anumber of children in need, but without a clearly defined need, will simply disappear from the registers. Which children (if any) on school action or school action plus will qualify for an EHCP? On economic grounds alone, we do not envisage mass transference. We suspect enforced economies may see some children lose the support they have under the current system - time will tell.
9.      Transparency of provision. The paper says LAs should make clear the provision available to parents but does not suggest any minimum requirements.
10.   Controlling budgets. Personalised budgets are being piloted. A parent may take the cash, and control how that the money is spent or alternativelyleave the kitty in the hands of a key worker but direct how it is used. The hope is that a child will get the services they need, when they are needed, and for any changes to be more effectively managed. Some, parents may not feelable, have the time, or possess the knowledge required, to make those decisions and to be accountable for them. Where a parent does control the budget theremay well be differences of opinion between how providers feel the money should be spent and what parents think. Parents of children with specific learning difficulties are among those expressing concern about this system and thefunding available, while detractors suspect budgets will only really apply to those children with low incidence (complex/rare) needs.
Some key thoughts:
1.      Who will qualify for an EHCP? The paper states, 'it is those children whose needs exceed what is normally provided for in school'. We suspect EHCPs will be limited to those who are currently in receipt of a statement (just under three per cent of all children). What of those children on School Action and School Action Plus?Will any qualifyfor additional help or an EHCP? How will that be decided?
2.     Independent schools. No mention is made of the role thatindependent schools, including independent special schools and non-maintained special schools, might play (or of funding entitlements).
3.      SEN identification. The government is keen to reduce the number of children identified with special needs. Some children are possibly mis-diagnosed as having a special need because of inadequacies and short-comings within their environment (poor parenting, language deprivation, social andemotional deprivation, neglect etc.). Regardless of root cause or label, what matters is meeting the learning needs of children who are struggling or experience difficulties.
4.     Final say. Where conflicts arise about the suitability of a school for a child with SEND, who will have the last word? Mediation and first tier tribunals are mentioned but key detail is missing.
5.     Provision deprivation. What happens when the type of provision hoped for is not available within the resources offered?
6.     Flexibility. We hope the system will be flexible and will change as and when the child's needs change. This includes, but should not be limited to, moving between different types of provision (mainstream, resourced, special).
7.      SEN - the responsibility of all schools? Increasing numbers of state schools,including free schools and academies, fall outside of local authority control.Will these schools be accountable for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)? Will the admission of children with SEND been forceable? Currently parents of children, who are refused a place at a maintained school, have the right to appeal to First Tier Tribunal SEND. We were pleased to see that a tribunal (August 2012) found in favour of three parents who fought to have Mossbourne Academy named on their statement.According to IPSEA, the decision means, even if an academy's funding agreement with the education secretary does not state that it will follow such a ruling,they must. The ruling may be short-lived, the right to name a school is not currently an explicit right on the proposed changes to SEN (Next steps), only the right to express a preference is explicit.
If you have any concerns about the points made above, please feel free to email us at and we will endeavour to bring them to the attention of those who will be bringing about the changes in Portsmouth.
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