Concerns about provision for children with special educational needs

On Thursday 9th February, the Sheffield Telegraph published an article entitled “Are children in the city with special educational needs being let down?“. The writer of the piece has chosen to remain anonymous, but appears to be someone who works in a school in Sheffield. Their identity is not known to us.

The article raises concerns about long waits for initial assessments at the Ryegate Children’s Centre and for access to CAMHS. It criticises the Council’s SEN Team for delays in issuing EHC plans, and for a lack of responsiveness.

These issues are consistent with the feedback we have been receiving from our members. Many of our trustees and volunteers have experienced them first hand with their own children.

We use a wide range of methods to gather the views of parents from across the city – such as outreach visits, social media, meetings of our subgroups, consultations like our “State of Sheffield” survey, and logs of calls and emails we receive in the office. We report any trends and themes we identify to the Council, NHS Sheffield, schools and other partners, and work with them to develop shared solutions. We very much see our role as that of a critical friend.

For example, we raised concerns about the quality of EHC plans, and this led to the Council setting up a Quality Assurance group. This group, which has representation from parents and schools, carries out spot checks of recent EHC plans and gives feedback to the plan writers.

In Sheffield we still have some way to go towards embedding true co-production with parents at every level. However, we believe that the will is there, and that it is worth persevering with this approach. Please get involved if you’d like to help us with that.

Update 16/02/2017: Sheffield City Council and CCG have responded to the article. Read their reply