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National Network of Parent Carer Forums annual conference 2017

Sarah Baker, joint Chair of Voice4Parents and Alison Baggs Co-production Officer, attended the National Network of Parent Carer Forums annual conference in Manchester on 28th November.  It was a great opportunity to meet other parent carer forums from across the region and hear how co-production is making a real difference in local areas.

Robert Goodwill, the Minister of State for Children and Families addressed the conference via video link during which he made the following comments.

“Section 19 of the Children and Families Act embodies the principle of engagement and co-production in law”

“This is a model of working I want to see in place across the country and I strongly encourage any area where this is not happening to devote more priority to it."

"It is now unthinkable that we would make policy changes without parent carers and getting their thoughts."

You can listen to the full video message on the link here


We also heard from Anne Gross -Director of Life Skills, Disadvantage and SEND from the Department for Education and the new accountability framework for the successful delivery of the SEND system.  The following were highlighted as key priorities:

• Ensuring the successful delivery of the SEN Support process (for those children and young people without Education, Health and Care Plans.)

• Improving quality of experiences and outcomes for families

• Ensuring that funding for children and young people with SEND is used effectively

• Continue partnership working, particularly with Health and Social Care

• On-going support from the Government for Parent Carer Forums and participation


Nigel Thompson, Head of Inspections – Children’s Health and Justice CQC, gave an update about the Local Area SEND Inspections to date.  Nigel highlighting the value of the new inspection framework, whilst recognising that there was still some way to go to ensure that parent carer engagement in the inspection process is effective.  Key messages and findings from Inspections that have taken place so far along with some inspection myths can be found in Nigel’s presentation Nigel Thompson, Head of Inspections – Children's Health and Justice, CQC

Here are other presentations from key note speakers at the conference.

Consultation on children and young people’s mental health provision

Children in England will be able to access mental health support at school or college under Government proposals to transform services for young people. The Government [on 4 December] set out ambitious plans in a green paper "Transforming Children and Young People's Memtal Health Provision" to increase mental health support and provide earlier access to services, and over £300 million funding to take the proposals forward.  

  • New measures signal a fundamental shift in mental health support, with over £300 million funding available
  • Training for senior designated mental health leads in schools to improve prevention work
  • Earlier access to services through the creation of new Mental Health Support Teams working in and directly with schools
  • New four week waiting time for NHS children and young people’s mental health services to be piloted

Submit your views for the consultation  Deadline is 2nd March 2018

New good practice resource: Education, Health and Care Plans: examples of good practice from year 9 and beyond

To complement an earlier resource the Council for Disabled Children has developed and published a new good practice resource called: Education, Health and Care Plans: examples of good practice from year 9 and beyond . This time with a particular focus on how plans should evolve for young people from year 9 reviews onwards, as their journey into adulthood builds momentum.  

Calling young people!

  • Are you 16-18 and looking for employment and training?
  • Do you know a 16-18 year old looking for employment and training?

City of Wolverhampton Council has a number of apprenticeship vacancies. 

Apprenticeships are work based training programmes that are a mixture of employment and college or private provider training. Apprenticeships can offer young people a positive first step on to the career ladder and the chance to do a job while gaining nationally recognised training and qualifications.  The vacancies are advertised on the WM jobs website.

If you are a young person needing help to find employment, education and training, the Connexions website is a useful resource

Special educational needs and disability first tier tribunal

The Department for Education has announced plans for a national trial to expand the powers of the SEND Tribunal.  This means that the SEND Tribunal will be able to make non-binding recommendations on the health and social care aspects of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans alongside the educational aspects. Robert Goodwill, Minister of State for Children and Families has written to all local authorities outlining the plans for the trial which will start in March 2018.  See his letter for further information.

Multi- million pound boost for children and young people with SEND

The Government has announced a package of support worth nearly £45 million to provide additional help for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Minister for Children and Families Robert Goodwill confirmed the additional funding for councils and organisations to continue transforming SEN provision and put families at the heart of the system.
The reforms which began in 2014 introduced Education, Health and Care plans which are tailored to the individual needs of the child or young person.
In addition to the funding to bolster the roll out of these reforms, a new £9.7million fund has been set up to create new supported internships, helping to bridge the gap for some of the most vulnerable young people between education and employment. The announcement has been welcomed by the National Children’s Bureau.

Minister for Children and Families Robert Goodwill said:
"We have taken action to fundamentally reform support for children with special educational needs, making sure that families are at the heart of the process and care plans are tailored to individuals – and our survey of parents tells us that this has made a difference to so many of these families.
Councils are making encouraging progress, but there is still work to be done to fully embed this improved system across education, health and care sectors.
That’s why I am pleased to announce this additional investment for councils and other groups who have been instrumental in getting us to this positive stage. Their hard work is raising the aspirations of these young people and giving them access to the same opportunities as their peers, helping them fulfill their full potential as adults."

The package of funding announced includes:

  • £29 million to support councils and their local partners to continue pressing ahead with implementation of the reforms to the SEND system;
  • £9.7 million to establish local supported internship forums, which will create work placements for young people with SEND to provide them with the skills and confidence they need to move into paid work. The funding could also be used to train job coaches, who are vital to the success of supporting those with learning difficulties into paid work; and
  • £4.6 million for Parent Carer Forums, which bring parents together with local decision makers and help to provide them with a voice in the process.

Annamarie Hassall MBE, Director of Practice and Programmes at the National Children’s Bureau, said:
"The funding announced today will help more children with disabilities and special educational needs get the support they need to live normal lives in their home communities. In particular, we welcome funding for internships, which will provide young people with valuable work experience as they make the transition to adulthood.
The Minister also confirmed that further funding would be available to build capacity in the system and support the ongoing delivery of the SEND reforms over the next two years. Invitations to bid for these contracts, which will include providing families with access to information, advice and support, continuing support for the SEND workforce, and expert support to local areas, will be published online shortly."


News on Tax credits for 16-19 year olds

contactlogoforwebsiteContact has advised that parents and carers make sure that their tax credits do not stop for their 16-19 year old. 
If you have a 16-19 year old who is staying in non-advanced education  remember to let the Tax Credit Office know or you could lose out on tax credit payments.

The Tax Credit Office always assumes that a 16 year old has left approved education or training over  the summer. As a result, they automatically stop any tax credit payments for a young person from 1 September. In order for your payments to continue, you must contact the Tax Credit Office to confirm details of the course your 16 year old  is doing.

News about the transfer of Statements

Robert Goodwill (Minister of State for Children and Families) has sent a letter to Local Authorities confirming that there will be no movement in the transition end date of 31st March 2018. The letter also clarifies the status of any remaining Statements from 1st April 2018.  This means that any families who still have statements after this date will not lose support instead their statements will continue until the transfer has taken place.

Extended Childcare Entitlement

Extended childcare entitlement up to 30 hours

Parents are now being given the opportunity to take up an extended entitlement of childcare.  This means that qualifying families with children aged between 3-4 years old can now apply to receive up to 30 hours of free early education.
Information about the availability of this offer can be obtained from childcare providers and school nurseries.  In order to find out which childcare providers and schools who are offering the entitlement, parents can look at the Wolverhampton Information Network website.
Alternatively parents can contact Information for Families on 01902 554242 to find out further information.

Application Criteria

Any parents who are considering this offer should ensure that they meet the following criteria this is available to view from the City of Wolverhampton Council leaflet.

  • All parents in the household are working and earning the equivalent of 16 hours a week at the National Minimum or Living Wage. This also includes income from Tax Credits or Universal Credits.


  • One/both parent(s) is away on statutory leave (e.g. maternal or parental)
  • One/both parent(s) is on statutory sick pay.
  • Parents on zero-hour contracts will be eligible.
  • Parents who are registered as self-employed.
  • One parent is employed and the other has substantial caring responsibilities, and/or disability.
  • One parent is employed and the other is a foster carer with their own 3 or 4 year old.

Applications will not be accepted from parents where the following circumstances apply:

  • Parents are advised that if they are in training they will not be eligible as other Government support is available.
  • In households where the one parent’s income exceeds £100,000 the household will not be eligible.

Application Process

Parents need to apply through the Childcare Choices Website which is linked to the HMRC. If successful the parents will be issued with an eligibility code, which would then need to be given to the childcare provider who is responsible for validating the code. 
This code is a unique 11-digit reference number and is important as it is necessary in order to claim your free childcare. Eligible parents should take this code to the school or childcare provider offering this entitlement, with further documents which show the national insurance number of the parent and the date of birth of the child in order to secure the extended entitlement place. The provider will validate the code with the local authority to confirm eligibility. After this has taken place, parents and the childcare provider will be able to discuss when provision can begin.

News on Exclusion

The Department of Education has released ​new Exclusion guidance in its Exclusion from maintained schools academies and pupil referral units guidance, which advises parents and professionals of the 'statutory legislation that governs the exclusion of pupils from maintained schools, pupil referral units, academy schools (including free schools, studio schools and university technology colleges and alternative provision academies (including alternative provision free schools) in England.'