Meeting the Minister

If you have not heard about Special Needs Jungle follow the link below to see what they have been up to – this week it was meeting Edward Timpson, the minister responsible for all the SEN changes that come into play in September.

SNJ is a blog run by parents of SEND children. Worth a look, especially this one because they are asking for feedback from other parents.

New £30m fund for independent supporters

The Department for Education has announced a new Independent Support fund which will be managed by the Council for Disabled Children (CDC).

The £30 million will be used to recruit and train a pool of ‘independent supporters’ – champions drawn from independent voluntary, community and private organisations – to help the families of children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) through the new legislation which comes into effect in September.

CDC will be overseeing the recruitment and training of the independent supporters.

Click on link below to read the Government’s press release:

Click below to  CDC’s news story and our Q&A on Independent Support at the following link:

If you have any queries about Independent Support, please

Please act NOW on draft Code of Practice

Consultation ends next Monday (December 9) and it is vital that the Government hears from as many parents as possible about their views on the proposed changes to the Code of Practice.

With this in mind, Derbyshire Parent Forums Steering Group member Helen Bulaitis has completed the consultation document collating parental views gleaned at parent forum meetings and consultations, both locally, regionally and nationally and thoughts from organisations such as the National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF), Contact a Family and the Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA).

While the answers are in no way a comprehensive critique of the draft code, nor can they be said in any way to cover everyone’s individual circumstances, grievances and gripes, they do cover some of the most often raised concerns that Helen has come across at meetings in the last few months.

Please have a look and change, add, amend as you wish.

Helen asks parents to take particular note of question 19 which relates to Education Health and Care Plans (which will replace statements – but may not replace statements for all ).

Question 27 offers an Any Other Comments box in which you can add your personal concerns.

Question 53 asks for Any Other Comments on responding to the consultation. Helen has expressed her personal view here and, again, please change, add, amend as you wish.

Response to draft CoP

 If you feel happy to support the general tone of these answers we would urge you to send this document to the Department for Education. 

Send by post to: Ministerial and Public Communication Division (CSDSD Team), Department for Education, Area 1C, Castle View House, East Lane, Runcorn, Cheshire WA7 2GJ.

Send by e-mail to:

We have also been given a draft copy of the response to the CoP consultation by Derbyshire County Council officers. See what they think below:

officers completed CoP draft Response Form v1 (1)

Alternatively, the Derbyshire Parent Forums Steering Group has issued an five-point general response to the consultation which you can find below:

A number of key concerns about the draft SEN Code of Practice have been raised by Derbyshire parents through the Derbyshire Parent Forums. I wish to add my voice to those concerns:

  • I am concerned about the intention to extend rights of appeal and decision-making to young people aged 16+. Although I appreciate that young adults need to have a voice in the decision-making about their education along with many other parents I believe that as a basic principle decision-making should rest with parents up to the age of 18
  • I am concerned that accountability in the draft Code is unclear. It is not satisfactory that there is no formal mechanism (other than school’s complaints procedure) for challenging the special educational provision that schools make either through their delegated budgets or through additional resources provided through the local authority. It is inadequate to identify Ofsted inspections of schools as a means of ensuring accountability – their infrequency means that a whole key stage for an individual might elapse between school inspections
  • The timescale for implementing these changes is unrealistically short – there has been insufficient time to gather and  consider carefully the evidence from Pathfinders.
  • Education, Health and Care Plans will be more costly to undertake than the current statutory assessments (statements) and section 139A assessments for  young people who have left school. At the same time local authorities are facing unprecedented cuts of 30% or more. We are concerned that this will put pressure on local authorities to change their thresholds for assessment so that over time only children with the most severe and complex needs will have the statutory protection that a statement currently provides
  • There needs to be some clear national guidance about how children in the new ‘SEN Support’ category will have their needs recorded, provision specified, outcomes identified – with a clear reviewing process. Without this children, young people and their parents and providers will be in vulnerable positions with a lack of clarity about what they should or could expect. This is essential if the stated intention of delivering high aspirations for all children and young people with SEN is to be achieved.

Again, send by e-mail to:

Urgent request for action

The Government’s consultation on changes to the SEN code of practice ends on Monday (December 9) at 5pm.

It requires responses to 53 questions based on a 176-page draft code. A Derbyshire Parent Forums steering group member has completed all 53 questions based on information gleaned from other parents at meetings held locally, regionally and nationally. This is in no way a definitive response to the draft code but an attempt to address some of the key concerns that have cropped up over the last few weeks and months.

A filled-in response document will be posted on this site by Wednesday (December 5) at the latest and if you are happy to put your name to it and send it in to the Department for Education before next Monday we would strongly urge you to do so.

The Steering Group has also come up with a five-point general response to the consultation which will be emailed out to all those on its database. Please respond by sending this in too if you can.

Separate consultation is being conducted for children and young people with SEN. Consultation for under 16s and 16- to 25-year-olds closes on Friday, December 20 (5pm).

Simply put SEN code of practice consultation under 16s or 16 to 25 into a search engine to access.

Parents working with professionals

This short video has been developed to support local areas as they plan and transform their services for disabled children and those with special educational needs. It is based on experiences from parent carer forums and local authorities and health providers in the SEND pathfinder areas, and demonstrates why ensuring there is co-production between parent carers and professionals is essential. It gives real examples of how this has worked, and the impact it has had, and why those who have worked in this way would not go back.

This video was produced by Contact a Family, the National Network or Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) and South East Seven pathfinder in collaboration with the Department for Education and Mott McDonald.