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Forum response to SEN Green Paper

In March 2011, the government published a Green Paper (consultation document) outlining a radical reform of the special educational needs (SEN) system.

We organised a consultation workshop to find out how parents in Sheffield felt about the proposals, which include replacing Statements with integrated “Education, Health and Care Plans” and removing the “bias towards inclusion”. The workshop was attended by 18 parents/carers of children with a wide range of disabilities and SEN, spanning all age groups from pre-school to post-16.

Focus on Speech and Language Therapy

At almost every event and every consultation we have organised in the past two years, parents have raised concerns about a lack of Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) input for their children. We want to do something about this.

The situation in Sheffield

SLT services in Sheffield are provided by the PCT (Primary Care Trust) and commissioned by NHS Sheffield and Sheffield City Council. There is no city-wide approach to the planning and commissioning of SLT, and no city-wide core offer.

Making a splash at Ponds Forge

Disabled children and their families turned out in their droves on Sunday 15th May to enjoy a fun-filled afternoon at Ponds Forge, organised by the Forum with funding from Sheffield City Council.

Around 200 people attended the event, including over 80 children who took part in a programme of activities, including swimming, trampolining, arts and crafts, street dance and ball sports.

Shake-up of SEN system on the agenda

In a Green Paper published on 9th March 2011, the government set out its proposals for reforming the education system for children with special educational needs (SEN).

These proposals include:

1. Replacing Statements with “Education, Health and Care plans” by 2014. These plans would be determined through a single assessment process, and would cover the age range from birth to 25. They would have the same legal status as statements of SEN. Parents would still be able to appeal to tribunal, but may be required to take part in mediation first.

Less money for Short Breaks despite record investment

In December 2010, the Children’s Minister announced that the Government will be providing local authorities with £800m over the next four years to fund short breaks for families with disabled children. This represents approx £200m per year, the highest ever investment in short breaks.

From April 2011, funding for short breaks will be included within the new Early Intervention Grant. This grant also funds services such as Sure Start, youth services, and MASTs (Multi-Agency Support Teams). The short breaks money will not be ring-fenced. This means that local authorities can choose to spend it on other things.

Parents' protests save respite care home

When plans to close Rushey Meadow, a respite care home for children with severe learning difficulties in Bannerdale Road, were published in the Sheffield Star, parents of children who use the centre were devastated.

Plans outlined in the council’s 2011/12 budget proposed to save £120,000 by giving families personalised budgets from which to purchase their own respite care.