On Monday 6th July, the National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) cochairs Tina Emery and Mrunal Sisodia met with Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford to discuss the feedback from parent carer forums during the Covid 19 pandemic.
The Minister thanked the NNPCF for compiling what she described as the “bubble document” which you can find a copy of here:
She commented that this paper confirmed many of the issues that she had been hearing about through other sources in the SEND system, particularly the difficulties being faced by many families in getting their children with SEND back into schooling.
The main topic of conversation was what the sector needed to do to ensure that children with SEND were able to return to school in September.
- Tina and Mrunal emphasised the importance of clear communication that was based on the science of Covid 19 and its very limited impact on children. We emphasised the need to better explain bubbles and the system of protective measures that schools are being asked to put in place. We told the Minister that the communication needed to come from trusted sources such as the NHS and teachers and therapists.
- We also discussed the challenges that school transport posed for children with SEND. We told the Minister that local areas should coproduce with parents about what transport arrangements worked for them. Our concern is that unless transport is prioritised, many SEND pupils will not be able to return to school.
- The Minister noted Tina’s concern about the clarity of guidance for young people with SEND in further education.
We also raised the SEND review with the Minister and asked her to ensure that, as the country starts to recover from Covid 19, the SEND review gets the appropriate focus. In our view, the Covid pandemic has highlighted and further deepened the gaps in provision and outcomes for children with SEND. We reiterated the key points that we had made in our initial input into the SEND review that you can find here http://www.nnpcf.org.uk/nnpcf-conference-gives-send-review-seven-clear-messages/