Information day on school transitions

A free information event for parents and carers of children with additional needsOrganised in partnership by the Sheffield Parent Carer Forum and the Children and Young People’s Service

When: Friday 14th October 2011, 10am-2.30pm (registration from 9.30am). Free lunch included. Where: Town Hall, Reception Rooms A and B, Pinstone Street

If your child has additional needs, transitions between schools can be a cause of great anxiety for all concerned. You may be wondering where you can find the information you need to choose the right school for your child, and what the process and timescales are. Does it work differently if your child has a statement? How do you apply for a special school place?If questions like these are keeping you awake at night, then our information day is for you! Come and listen to presentations from SEN officers, parents and school leaders which will cover:●    Transition planning for children with and without statements●    Where to find information about schools●    The admissions process – how to apply for a mainstream / special school place●    Top tips from parents who’ve been there and done that●    What to do if you didn’t get the place you wantedThere will also be plenty of opportunities to talk to other parents and perhaps get an “insider’s account” of the schools you’re interested in!Please note that this event will only cover admissions to primary and secondary schools, NOT transitions to post-16 education and training. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide a crèche.Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. To book your place, please register on by Monday, 10th October.

New childcare initiatives

Over the past 18 months, volunteers from the Parent Carer Forum have been working in partnership with a group of officers from Early Years, SNIPS and the Childminding Network to improve childcare for disabled children in Sheffield. The group was given a ring-fenced budget to work with, and was very willing to take on board parents’ proposals. As a result, the following initiatives have now been implemented:

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.