HPCI Member Update 21 March 2023

Lots in this update – from local events to national developments.  Have a look at this week’s contents to find what you’re most interested in…

  • SEND Scrutiny in Hertfordshire
  • Using the HPCI survey results
  • Workshops and events: Emotionally Based School Avoidance; Care, Education and Treatment Reviews (CETRs); Author event as part of Autism Awareness week; and Hertfordshire autism strategy events.
  • Government’s new SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan
  • News from HPCI

SEND Scrutiny in Hertfordshire

You may remember that we mentioned a couple of weeks ago that there was a council meeting to look at progress made following last year’s SEND Scrutiny recommendations.  You may want to know that a supplementary evidence pack was submitted which summarised the concerns HPCI (and other parent/carer groups) had with the HCC progress report.  At the meeting, it was agreed that officers would need to come back again in six months’ time to report further on progress, as the panel felt more work was needed before the recommendations could be considered as complete.

If you wanted to watch the discussion, the SEND section of the agenda starts at 43 minutes.

Using the HPCI annual survey

I thought that members would want to know that we are continuing to draw on the fantastic information that the survey gave to us about families’ views, experiences and concerns.  We have presented findings to the Hertfordshire SEND and Inclusion Board, which brings together senior officers from across education, health and social care.  And we are using the data to keep discussions with services such as Statutory SEND, mental health, therapies and social care focussed on addressing those concerns and improving services.  Having this data really helps lend weight to our arguments for improvements needed.

Workshops and events

Emotionally Based School Avoidance – an online workshop open to Herts families whose children are struggling to attend school.  Monday 27th March (7pm-9pm) via Zoom. More details on our Facebook page.

Care, Education and Treatment Reviews (CETRs) – online workshop for parents and carers who have experience of the DSR and C(E)TRs.  Wednesday 22 March (10:30 am) via Teams.  Again, details on our Facebook page.

Author event – free in-person event as part of Autism Awareness week. Tuesday 28 March (7pm-9pm in St Albans).  Booking details via EventBrite.

Hertfordshire autism strategy events – these are aimed at autistic people, parents and carers of an autistic person and professionals who work with autistic people.  There are a series of online and in-person events running from 29 March to 2 May that seek to gather views to inform the development of a new autism strategy for Hertfordshire.  Booking details here.

Government’s new SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan

You may have seen in the press that the Government published its new SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan earlier this month. This followed on from last year’s Green Paper consultation and sets out the Government’s ambitions for a new system that they hope will: fulfil children’s potential; build parents’ trust; and provide financial sustainability.

The key thing for families to note at this point is that nothing within the plan changes current law. And the plans, as set out, are not likely to lead to any changes soon, particularly given that the next general election will have happened by January 2025.  Please bear this in mind when looking at this summary of the main proposals:

  • National Standards to establish what support should be ordinarily available in mainstream settings and who will pay for this.  The plan says that the majority will be published by the end of 2025.
  • New practice guides (the first three to cover: Autism; Social, Emotional and Mental Health; and Speech and Language), again to be produced by 2025.
  • A standardised EHCP template
  • The proposal to provide a “tailored list” of schools to families is still in the plan, despite very clear concerns raised in response to this idea when it was set out in the Green Paper.  However, the plan says that options for these lists will need to be developed and tested, and that other areas of reform will need to be completed before these can be introduced.
  • Funding Bands and Tariffs – again, still in the plan despite concerns but Government has said that they “will undertake research to gather more information about the costs of provision and then explore the best way to manage and reduce this variation as much as possible”.
  • Mediation – while the plan says that Government is committed to their move towards mandatory mediation, again it says that further testing and evaluation will be needed.

Overall, there are still lots of questions for families about accountability within the SEND system, how the plan’s proposals will be funded and how quickly change might happen.  We’ll keep you updated as developments occur.

Finally – some very sad news for HPCI

Earlier this month our most recent Chair, Helen Errington, sadly passed away.  She had been an HPCI Director since 2017 and had been the Chair until she had to step down earlier this year due to ill health.  For those of us who knew Helen, we will remember her as a committed and energetic driver of positive change, and we will all miss her leadership and friendship.  Our thoughts are very much with her family at this time.