Draft/Support & Aspirations: Response by Norfolk SEN Network

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1 Draft/Support & Aspirations: Response by Norfolk SEN Network Q1. How can we strengthen the identification of SEN and impairments in the early years, and support for children with them? Meeting the needs of children under 5 without the need for a statement is fine, but for those with physical or severe learning difficulties in Norfolk, children are only admitted to a Special School if they have a statement or it is in the process of being completed, thus making it essential for those parents wanting such a placement to request a statement. For the children with less severe SEN, placement where they can be assessed over a period of time should mean the right support and inclusive placement to meet their needs would be found, providing they are given adequate support during the assessment period. With all parents it is essential that the family has access to someone who can explain the procedures and who can give them independent help and advice. All health professionals working with families should be trained in delivering this information to parents. Q.2 Do you agree with our proposal to replace the statement of SEN and learning difficulty assessment for children and young people with a single statutory assessment process and an Education, Health and Care Plan, bringing together all services across education, health and social care? Most parents find the assessment procedure stressful and confusing. They are not kept informed during the assessment process, nor given independent advice. Many turn to Norfolk SEN Network when they become disillusioned with the procedures and the Authority. They have faith in us to guide them through the procedures and work to obtain the support their child needs. Q.3 How could the new single assessment process and Education, Health and Care Plan better support children s needs, be a better process for families and represent a more cost-effective approach for services? CAF meetings are very effective, they bring together all the professionals involved with a child and seek solutions to problems together with the family. It enables the family to talk to all the professionals at once and not have to repeat their child s difficulties over and over again. A joint assessment between Education, Health and Social Care could bring together the information needed to help a child and reduce the pressure on the family. Q.4 What processes or assessments should be incorporated within the proposed single assessment process and Education, Health and Care Plan? The assessment process needs to be time limited to stop Authorities delaying provision. One report from each of the statutory services should suffice. Parents still need to retain their right to appeal against the provision and placement. It should also be remembered that in cases where grandparents are carers for the child, they may find the joint procedures overpowering.

2 Q.5 What is the potential impact of expanding the scope of the proposed single assessment process and plan beyond education, health, social care and employment? The single assessment process could be continuous, thus parents would not have to start at the beginning again and professionals in adult services could take over from where Children s Services have finished. Q.6 What role should the voluntary and community sector play in the statutory assessment of children and young people with SEN or who are disabled? How could this help to give parents greater confidence in the statutory assessment process? As a voluntary organisation with 20 years experience of working with parents, we know that we have the trust and respect of parents that the Authority can t gain. We have acted as advocates between the Authority and parents and worked to get the best outcome for both the child and parent. We act as mediators between parents and the Authority and are advocates for parents. Q.7 How could the proposed single assessment process and Education, Health and Care Plan improve continuity of social care support for disabled children? There is an uneven distribution of social care support, those that shout loudest get the support, whereas those who are unaware of their rights get no help. Equality in budgets would eliminate this. Consideration would have to be given to those children who need 24 hour care, an out of school hours curriculum or those in residential placements. Q.8 How could the arrangements for provision of health advice for existing statutory assessments be improved? Reports from a Paediatrician or Medical Officer are only needed if a child has a health issue, reports from a Health Visitor or Community Nurse and, if seen by, a Speech and Language Therapist in many cases would be sufficient. Q.9 How can we make the current SEN statutory assessment process faster and less burdensome for parents? Many reports are already in existence, these could be used, alongside any other considered necessary and a proposed statement issued within 10 weeks and a final in 14 weeks when everyone is agreed on the provision. Q.10 What should be the key components of a locally published offer of available support for parents? An information pack given in early years through the Early Support pack and when in school, through the school, also containing where they can obtain independent advice. Q.11 What information should schools be required to provide to parents on SEN? Advice on the statutory procedures, where they can get help, how their child s support is provided and how the school will support and help their child. Q12. What do you think an optional personal budget for families should cover?

3 Funding for their child s placement in school, any therapies needed, respite and leisure activities for the child. Q13. In what ways do you think the option of a personal budget for services identified in the proposed Education, Health and Care Plan will support parents to get a package of support for their child that meets their needs? It would be particularly beneficial to parents with Home Programmes, children taught through Education Otherwise or towards Independent placements. One obstacle of Personal Budgets could be that the good state schools will increase their fees. Q14. Do you feel the statutory guidance on inclusion and school choice, Inclusive Schooling, allows appropriately for parental preferences for either a mainstream or special school? No. It leans towards placement in a mainstream school. Parents should always be given a choice of schools. Q.15 How can we improve information about school choice for parents of children with a statement of SEN, or new Education, Health and Care Plan? Providing parents with pages of national and local schools is waste of money in the majority of cases. Most parents are aware of the type of school they want their child to go to. Making the information available on the internet, in libraries and schools would be more practicable and should be accessible to all parents. Q.16 Should mediation always be attempted before parents register an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (SEN and Disability)? Definitely not. Parents should be given a choice. Q.17 Do you like the idea of mediation across education, health and social care? How might it work best? A meeting with Officers of the Authority once the final statement has been issued would be much more practicable and could save many tribunals being lodged. We have had experience of several mediators, some are fair, but others are biased towards the Authority, they dictate to parents and put parents under more stress. Q.18 How can we ensure that the expertise of special schools, and mainstream schools with excellent SEN practice, is harnessed and spread through Teaching Schools partnerships? Additional funding for Special Schools and Mainstream Schools who are willing to share their expertise with others. Q.19 How can we ensure that we improve SEN expertise, build capacity and share knowledge between independent specialist colleges, special schools and colleges? By giving schools and college incentive to share their knowledge. Q.20 How can we continue to build capacity and SEN specialist skills at each tier of school management? By offering more training and sharing of knowledge across all professionals.

4 Q.21 What is the best way to identify and develop the potential of teachers and staff to best support disabled children or children with a wide range of SEN? More Inset training and essential training for all staff including MSA s each time a child with a new disability joins their school. Q.22 What is the potential impact of replacing School Action and School Action plus and their equivalents in the early years with a single category of SEN in early years settings and schools? A single level of assessment should be adequate for all early years settings and possibly lead to more children s needs being identified earlier. It will also help give parents a much clearer understanding if one single assessment is used. Q.23 How could changing the school -and early years settings-based Category of SEN embed a different approach to identifying SEN and addressing children s needs? By ensuring that all children s needs are addressed much earlier would highlight those needing most help much sooner. Q.24 How helpful is the current category of BESD in identifying the underlying needs of children with emotional and social difficulties? Parents of children with communications difficulties object to their child being categorized under this heading as they see it as children with behavioural issues Q.25 Is the BEST label overused in terms of describing behaviour problems rather than leading to an assessment of underlying difficulties? Yes. Everyone looks at the behaviour as being the main problem. Q.26 How could we best ensure that the expertise of special schools in providing behaviour support is harnessed and shared? Linking mainstream schools to a Special School for advice and in turn the mainstream school can develop relationships with the special school. Q.27 What are the barriers to special schools and special Academies entering the market for alternative provision? Funding, time and willingness of staff. Q.28 What are the ways in which special Academies can work in partnership with other mainstream and special schools and Academies, and other services, in order to improve the quality of provision for pupils with SEN and disabilities? Sharing equipment and expertise. Q.29 What are the barriers to special Academies becoming centres of excellence for non-statemented children with SEN in special Free Schools?

5 Funding and teachers who have the expertise. Q.30 What might the impact be of opening up the system to provide places for nonstatemented children with SEN in special Free Schools? Could lead to Free Schools specialising in certain conditions. Q.31 Do you agree with our proposed approach for demonstrating the progress of low attaining pupils in performance tables? No. This could have a detrimental effect on the children. Q.32 What information would help parents, governors and others, including Ofsted, assess how effectively schools support disabled children and children with SEN? Clearer IEP s showing whether children have made progress and termly tests with published results available. Q.33 What more can education and training providers do to ensure that disabled young people and young people with SEN are able to participate in education or training post-16? More information and guidance for parents and young people from Connexions Q.34 When disabled young people and young people with SEN choose to move directly from school to college or into the world of work, how can we make sure this is well planned and who is best placed to support them? Connexions advisers. Meetings with college and employers before a placement begins to sure knowledge of the child s needs would help lessen the possibility of any problems. Q.35 Do you agree that supported internships would provide young people for whom an apprenticeship may not be a realistic aim with meaningful work opportunities? How might they work best? Yes. It would give the young person practical experience and build their confidence. Q.36 How can employers be encouraged to offer constructive work experience and job opportunities to disabled young people and young people with SEN? By giving them the same opportunities as ordinary young people, possibly with supported funding from central government. Q.37 How do you think joint working across children s and adult health services for young people aged 16 to 25 could be improved? Many parents fear the change over from children to adult services and would benefit from additional support from a Transition Officer or Nurse to discuss their young person s medical needs. Q.38 As the family doctor, how could the GP play a greater role in managing a smooth transition for a disabled young person from children s to adult health services? By offering a meeting with a nurse to discuss teenage problems and their right to health checks.

6 Q.39 Do you agree that our work supporting disabled young people and young people with SEN to prepare for adulthood should focus on these areas: ensuring a broad range of learning opportunities; moving into employment; independent living; and transition to adult health services? What else should we consider? Yes. Also personal budgets and leisure activities. Q.40 We have identified three core features of the role of local authorities in supporting children and young people with SEN or who are disabled and their families: strategic planning for services, securing a range of high quality provision and enabling families to make informed choices and exercise greater control over services. Do you agree that these are the three core features of the role of local authorities in supporting children and young people with SEN or who are disabled and their families, or are there others? We agree with the three core features, but feel ensuring parents know where to get independent advice should also be included. Q.41 How can central government enable and support local authorities to carry out their role effectively? Ensure they are acting within the law and that they are making adequate provision for children with SEN. Q.42 What would be the best way to provide advice to GP consortia to support their commissioning of services for children and young people with SEN or who are disabled and their families? Training for GP on how the new Education, Health and Social Care plan is compiled and used to meet the needs of children with SEN. Q.43 What would be the most appropriate indicators to include in the NHS and public health outcomes frameworks in the future to allow us to measure outcomes for children and young people with SEN or who are disabled? Q.44 What are the ways in which the bureaucratic burdens on frontline professionals, schools and services can be reduced? A single report from the professionals with greatest knowledge of the child combined to produce a plan which covers all the needs of the child. Supported by a simplified Annual IEP with 3 targets which can be replaced and updated as a child achieves them, thus not having to be repeated and reproduced on a termly basis. Q.45 In addition to community nursing, what are the other areas where greater collaboration between frontline professionals could have the greater positive impact on children and young people with SEN or who are disabled and their families? Speech and Language Services, IT assessments and Mental Health workers.

7 Q.46 What more do you think could be done to encourage and facilitate local services working together to improve support for children with SEN or who are disabled? Once the Education, Health & Social Care Plan is in place the provision of all aids identified in it should be provided within a time limit eg 4 weeks. Q.47 How do you think SEN support services might be funded so that schools, Academies, Free Schools and other education providers have access to high quality SEN support services? Direct from the DfE Q.48 What are the innovative ways in which new models of employee-led organisations, such as mutuals and cooperatives, could improve services for children and young people with SEN and their families? Q.49 In additional to their role in the assessment process, what are the innovative ways in which educational psychologists are deployed locally to support children and young people with SEN or who are disabled and their families? E.P. assessments are a vital part of any Plan and the funding for training of Psychologists should come from the DfE and should be uniform across the country. Q.50 How do you envisage the role and service structures of educational psychologists evolving to meet local demands? To give more advice on a regular basis to individual schools to meet children s needs earlier. Q.51 What are the implications of changes to the role and deployment of educational psychologists for how their training is designed and managed? The loss of the most experienced psychologists. Q.52 What do you think can be done to facilitate and encourage greater collaboration between local authorities? Visits by Officers and teachers to schools in other authorities will specialism in eg visually impaired, deaf, epilepsy, cerebryl palsy Q.53 What do you think are the areas where collaboration could have the greatest positive impact on services for children, young people and families? Where children with severe epilepsy, have visual impairments or are deaf to share best practice. Q.54 How do you think that more effective pooling and alignment of funding for health, social care and education services can be encouraged? To share the cost of provision for children with profound difficulties.

8 Q.55 What are the ways in which a Community Budget approach might help to improve the ways in which services for children and young people with SEN or who are disabled and their families are delivered? Training for parents, sharing of budgets for equipment. Q.56 What are the ways in which we could introduce greater local freedom and flexibility into the ways in which funding for services for children and young people with SEN or who are disabled is used? Giving funding to the voluntary sector for play and leisure activities. Q.57 What are the areas where the voluntary and community sector could have the greatest impact on services for children and young people with SEN or who are disabled and their families, and what are the ways we can facilitate this? Independent advice and support for families right through to their children are 25 years old. Voluntary sector groups would need funding to assist their work. Q.58 How do you think a national banded funding framework for children and young people with SEN or who are disabled could improve the transparency of funding decisions to parents while continuing to allow for local flexibility? Would bring uniformity across the country and better resources to rural areas. Q.59 How can the different funding arrangements for specialist provision for young people pre-16 and post-16 be aligned more effectively to provide a more consistent approach to support for children and young people with SEN or who are disabled from birth to 25? To ensure support overlaps so that parents and children are not left unsupported when moving from school to college or adult services.

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