SEN reforms: get involved!

18th November 2013

  • The Children and Families Bill currently before Parliament will introduce huge changes to the way children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) are supported. The reforms will affect ALL children and young people (up to the age of 25) with SEN, not just those who currently have a statement. We need YOUR help influence the way in which the reforms are implemented.

    The SEN Code of Practice is a very important document because nobody is allowed to ignore what it says. It tells Early Years settings, schools, local authorities and others how to identify, assess and support children and young people with SEN. A revised version of the Code of Practice is currently out for consultation. The deadline for responses is the 9th of December. You can make an individual response here. The consultation covers both the draft Code of Practice (179 pages) and the associated draft regulations. We think we will only be able to make a response to the consultation if we split the work up between as many parents as possible. Could you help us by reading a few pages and telling us what you think, either in writing or over the phone?

    The implementation of the SEN reforms in Sheffield will be overseen by five workstreams:
    1. Local offer workstream
    Will publish comprehensive information about education, training, transport, health and social care services available for children and young people with SEN and their families in Sheffield.
    2. Education Health and Care assessments and plans workstream
    Will oversee the introduction of Education Health and Care Plans, which will replace statements of SEN from 2014.
    3. Joint Commissioning workstream
    Will plan how Health, Education and Social Care will work together to commission services for children and young people with SEN. Also covers Personal Budgets, which will be available to families with an EHC plan to purchase support for their child, if they choose to.
    4. Communications strategy workstream
    Will decide how information about the changes to the SEN system will be communicated to the public.
    5. Workforce development workstream
    Will decide what kind of training staff will need to implement the reforms (particularly around person-centred approaches).

    We are looking to recruit parent carer representatives to sit on these workstreams. We anticipate that we will have two reps on each workstream (with the exception of the EHC workstream, which will only have one).We are keen to ensure that our representatives are a diverse bunch, and we’d particularly like more dads, more parents from BME communities, and more parents of children with physical disabilities, Behavioural Emotional and Social Difficulties (BESD), mental health issues and sensory impairments to get involved. However, what matters most is that our reps are able to gather and represent the views of as many parent carers as possible, so please get it touch even if you don’t fall into any of the above groups!

    Role of the representatives
    The role of the parent representatives is to represent the views of a wide range of parents of children and young people with SEN in Sheffield. Representatives must not use meetings to resolve personal issues.
    Time commitment: Must be able to attend monthly meetings during school hours. It is essential that all of our parent carer reps communicate with each other, our workers, our trustees and our wider membership, so that we can act in a coordinated and purposeful way. We therefore expect the representatives to provide regular verbal feedback to our Education subgroup, which meets bi-monthly, and/or our quarterly open meetings. Meetings will normally take place during school hours, and dates will be set well in advance. We may occasionally ask you to provide brief written feedback (no more than a page of A4).
    Reimbursement: We will reimburse all your childcare and travel expenses. We will also pay £30 per meeting, to reimburse you for your time. Please note that reimbursement for time is provided at the discretion of SPCF and is not intended to create an employment relationship or a legally binding contract between SPCF and its volunteers. Volunteers who receive reimbursement for time are responsible for assessing their own tax liability and/or the potential impact on their state benefits.
    Support and training: We will give you an induction and provide training, information and support to enable you to fulfil your role to the best of your ability. This could include training on minute-taking, communication skills, SEN legislation, etc. We will also ensure that you are paired with an experienced volunteer or one of our workers. You will never be expected to attend a meeting on your own.
    Skills and experience required:
    •    Time to attend relevant meetings (see above)
    •    Experience of being a parent or carer of a child or young person with SEN in Sheffield
    •    An ability to maintain confidentiality
    •    An ability to give verbal and written feedback
    •    An ability to listen to others and express views in a constructive and polite manner
    •    Time to read relevant papers (e.g. minutes, agendas, reports, briefing papers)
    •    Time to talk to other parents to gather their views; this could be through your own networks, and/or through SPCF activities such as schools roadshows, family events, subgroup meetings, workshops etc.

    Interested? To find out more, please contact our office on 0300 321 4721 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-3pm) or email