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National Network of Parent Carer Forums ‘Our Strength Is Our Shared Experience’

COMMUNICATION TO PARENT CARER FORUMS FROM THE STEERING GROUP REGARDING THE SEND LEGISLATION PUBLISHED FOR PRE LEGISLATIVE SCRUTINY 4TH November 2012 Dear Parent Carer Forums, We are writing as a Steering Group to the wider NNPCF membership as we felt it was important to be clear about our position in relation to the proposed SEND legislation and planned changes, and our commitment to the need for change to the existing system. You will, no doubt have read the legislation, or a summary of this, and perhaps seen some of the media coverage, and the concerns raised about it, including some campaigning activity to oppose the bill. We understand that the legislation is broad, and does not contain the level of detail that we would ideally have liked to see. There are continuing engagement and involvement opportunities as the Regulations and revised SEN Code of Practice are reviewed and prepared and the NNPCF will ensure that the parent carer voice will be part of this. We also understand that any change is unsettling, however, it should be remembered that these changes were a response by the Department to the ongoing and serious messages that they were hearing about how the current provisions and legislation are not meeting the needs of disabled children, young people and their families. We think it is important not to lose sight of what prompted these reforms – which was the fact that the current system too often did not work. There has been significant parental and engagement in the development of the Green Paper, and the NNPCF have been a part of that. We have representatives that sit on the National Advisory Group and the Pathfinder Advisory Group. The Steering Group meet regularly with the Department for Education, and the two co-chairs recently met with the new Minister, Edward Timpson and we continue to strive to ensure that the parent carer voice is being heard, and influencing change. The Steering Group also submitted a response to the draft legislation. Due to timescales, we were not able to engage with all forums, and due to the strict requirements of the Select

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Committee we have only just been able to publicise our submission which is attached and can also be found on our website at The NNPCF is committed to securing the best outcomes for all families of a child with a disability or additional needs, both in the short and long term. It is important that we represent families of children and young people with all types of impairments, and across the age range, and not just in relation to education, but across all service boundaries. As such, whilst we recognise that there are some significant concerns about the legislation, we do feel that it does go some way to trying to address some of the challenges and difficulties that we have, as families been reporting to the Department for many years. We also have considered the possible outcomes if the proposed legislation is delayed or withdrawn. It is likely that if that happens, it would mean that the legislative ‘slot’ would be lost and nothing will be done for ‘our’ children in this Parliament. In this time of cuts, changes to SEN funding and to health commissioning, it is our belief that maintaining the status quo or ‘just keeping things the same’ is not a realistic option. So although the first draft is in part disappointing, we think that we have to accept that the intention behind this legislation is a genuine attempt to improve what we know is a broken system. We know that the lack of clarity, and concerns about loss of rights, or access to provision are genuine , and we are not attempting to minimise these, but we do feel that to lose this once in a decade opportunity to improve the system would be disastrous. We are currently working with the Department for Education to address some of the concerns raised about the legislation and will keep you informed about the progress of these discussions. Whatever happens the NNPCF will continue to have an important role, and we will always strive to ensure that services are improved, and disabled children and their families are able to access the services and support that they need. We are and will continue to be committed to influencing decision making , and will continue to work to ensure the best outcomes for all families of children with disabilities or additional needs. We are members of the Council for Disabled Children Board, who have this week written to the Minister expressing similar views, and calling for a public commitment to reassure families that the draft reforms will not erode the existing support for families. This letter can be viewed at . We will keep you updated as things progress. If you have any particular comments or concerns about the current situation please do contact your NNPCF regional representative to discuss these, or email them to us at the address below.

NNPCF Steering Group

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NNPCF Letter to forums Nov 2012