A busy update this week, with lots of opportunities to have your views heard and also to help drive change. I know this is quite a long update but it is really vital that families feed in where possible, particularly on the green paper proposals, which are covered along with:
Two new job opportunities at HPCI
HPCI is looking for two new part time members of staff to provide administrative support. One post will be focussed on supporting and growing our membership, and the other will be providing support on the exciting Autism in Schools project that is currently being piloted in Hertfordshire (this post currently has funding for one year).
The hours of work are flexible and will be set at 10 hours a week during school term-time. Working hours during the school holidays would be agreed with the successful candidates. The pay is £11 per hour plus mileage/travel expenses. The post holders will work from home and a laptop will be supplied. There is paid holiday on a pro-rata basis.
Applications will be by letter of application and CV, and will close at noon on Sunday 10 July 2022. Interviews will be held on 18 and 19 July, with a view to employment commencing on 1 September. If you are interested in applying then please contact me (email@example.com) for a job description and further recruitment details, or if you’d just like an informal chat about the roles available.
Adding your views on the SEND green paper
The formal consultation on the Government’s SEND green paper closes on 22 July and HPCI will be sharing the response that we submit with members. We will also be seeking member views on a couple of the key proposals via our Facebook page, so please do keep an eye out for that.
However, I would really like to encourage all parents and carers to submit their views individually if you can. If you wanted to do this via the main consultation, you can do that here. However, the National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) is also running a shorter survey to allow families to feed in their views in an easier way, as we are aware that not everyone has the capacity to wade through the full document and the way that some of the official consultation questions are worded is a bit leading! So, if you can find 10-15 minutes to complete the NNPCF survey here please do (it’s open until 30 June). The green paper is light on details in some places, but the proposals have the potential to seriously affect (and restrict) the support that our children and young people receive, so it’s really important that families have their say.
Consultation on proposed changes to the law on EHCP Reviews
You might remember that a previous newsletter mentioned a High Court judgment in March 2022, which clarified that local authorities are required to issue proposals for amending an existing Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) within four weeks of a review meeting. As a result, another Government consultation was published last week, this time looking to extend this period to eight weeks. If you want to read the further details about the proposals in the consultation, Special Needs Jungle, have a good article on this. Again, HPCI will be submitting a response but would encourage families to do so too, if you can. Local authorities already regularly miss statutory deadlines and we consider that extending the period will only have a negative impact on getting timely support to children and young people with SEND. The consultation closes on 12 August.
Consultations on new Specialist Resource Provision in Herts
Herts County Council is planning a number of Specialist Resource Provisions (SRPs) in mainstream primary schools to meet the needs of children and young people with social communication difficulties, including autism, in addition to children with severe speech disorders and developmental language disorder (DLD). At the moment, pupils with DLD or severe speech motor disorders are supported by Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) bases attached to mainstream schools. The local authority plans to replace the SLCN bases with SRPs and extend the offer to include both children with speech and language difficulties and also children who have a broader level of need of social communication, including autism.
HCC is currently consulting on the second phase of SRP roll out to deliver 9 primary SRPs, each offering 12 places (the first phase looked at secondary provision).
HPCI will be responding to these consultations, broadly welcoming the new SRPs but our response will include the importance of working with the families of children currently in the SLCN bases to make sure that the needs of those children continue to be met and that transitions are well planned. We will also be commenting on the importance of ensuring that the SRPs are delivered as quickly and efficiently as possible, so that children without appropriate provision can be placed promptly.
If you wish to add your thoughts, you can respond to the consultation for the individual primary schools involved, and the deadline for responses is 4 July 2022.
SEND National Crisis Hertfordshire survey
You may have seen on social media that the SEND National Crisis Hertfordshire team has been asking for views on what families would like to see happen to improve the experience for children and young people with SEND. They have asked us to share this with our members and you can complete the survey here. We will be keen to see the results of this survey, so we can feed it into our engagement with the local authority and other practitioners.
I would note that one of the areas families are asked about is whether people would like to see “HPCI to be more representative and transparent, answerable to membership”. If you do have any thoughts on this or feedback on how we can do this if you think this is an issue, please do let us know directly. We are independent of the local authority, our role is to represent Hertfordshire families with SEND, and we are always keen to hear how we can improve. If you do want to know more about how we work, and the difference between a parent carer forum and a campaign group, there is further information on our website here.
A reminder about the HPCI Specific Learning Difficulties survey
Finally… a quick reminder that our survey about SpLD services and support in Hertfordshire is open until 3 July. We’ve already had a great response to this, but the more voices we include, the more powerful our message, so do complete this if you have a child or young person with SpLD (such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, dyscalculia and dysgraphia): https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/2022SpLD