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Stalker Walk
Sheffield, England, S11 8JF
United Kingdom

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Helping parents, schools, and professionals to navigate the complex legal system of special educational needs and Education, Health & Care Plans.

Talking about Education, Health and Care Plans

Talking about Education, Health and Care Plans, and how to support parents and professionals through the complex process.

The importance of annual reviews BEFORE Christmas

Bright Futures

It is the time of year where you really need to have your child’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) annual review if they are transitioning to a new school next academic year.

The Local Authority (LA) must complete the legal process of conducting an annual review, and make sure they update your child’s plan with the new school, but 15th February or if they are going in to post-16 by 31st March 2019.

You might think this leaves you with enough time, but the annual review process can take many weeks (it is not just a meeting).

So why is it so important to have it now?

1) To obtain your rights for appeal

if your school of choice is not named for next year, then you need to obtain your rights to take it further if necessary. Appeals are already being registered to be held at the end of February/March 2020, so you need those rights to appeal, ASAP to get your appeal heard before summer. You only receive your rights to appeal, AFTER an annual review.

2) To make amendments to the plan

Moving schools at transition point is a huge jump. If the EHCP is not adequately updated, the school and your child could be left without the correct support for that setting.

3) To have time to plan transition

Planning takes a long time. If you have to do any of the points from above, then you might not have a new (good) EHCP until Spring/Summer term next year, even if you have the meeting before Christmas. That is why it is so crucial to start the annual review process NOW.

It is your right to request an annual review, so don’t delay. If you need someone to come with you, the team at Bright Futures can support you on the day or in preparation too.

Significant areas of weakness in SEND services provided by Derby City Council

Bright Futures

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Ofsted continues to review SEND services nationwide. Results are not surprising!

Between 17 June 2019 and 21 June 2019, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), conducted a joint inspection of the local area of Derby to judge the effectiveness of the area in implementing the disability and special educational needs reforms.

The report identified significant weaknesses in the SEND services provided. We’ve summarised the main findings:

  1. Too little progress in implementing SEND reforms

    Frequent changes in leadership in the LA have led to delays in implementing the reforms. Disjointed and poorly executed initiatives has led to confusion among professionals across education, health and social care services, as well as parents.

  2. There is an inequality of provision for children and young people with SEND across services in Derby

    The majority of parents interviewed felt that isolated and alone in the process. The report also detailed that those who spoke English as an additional language or who have sensory impairments described how it is difficult to find the information they need without support.

  3. The timeliness and completion of EHC assessments are too variable and the quality of EHC plans is generally weak.

    Ofsted identified serious weaknesses in the system and processes for the assessment of children and young people with SEND for an education, health and care (EHC) plan. The weaknesses led to impersonal plans with poorly defined outcomes. A high number of the applications resorted in mediation or tribunals, causing unnecessary anxiety for the parents.

  4. Post early years, education, health and social care services do not work together to identify the needs of children and young people with SEND effectively

    Some of the process and systems designed to identify the children and young peoples needs are not well established ‘For example, a disproportionally large proportion of children and young people with SEND are identified as having a primary need of moderate learning difficulty (MLD).’.

    The children and young people are incorrectly placed and the parents have lost faith in the system.

  5. The transition from early years settings to primary schools is poor.

    Parents and schools wait too long to be informed by the local authority about places allocated to their children. Schools are sometimes ‘forced’ into the position of refusing admissions at the last minute due to poor communication from the local authority and a lack of the necessary specialist services and resources required to meet children’s needs.

  6. Children and young people with SEND who are educated in schools outside Derby are not effectively monitored by the local authority.

  7. A very low proportion of parents or young people access personal budgets in the local area

    Probably because Derby does not exercise this right!

  8. Too many children and young people with SEND are permanently excluded from schools.

    The proportion of children and young people persistently absent from special schools remains higher than the national average and little progress has been made to improve this.

  9. Some children and young people with SEND are not able to access specialist equipment to meet their needs in a timely manner.

    Long waiting times to access funding to purchase equipment are sometimes traumatic for children and their parents. Parents typically expressed their concerns over the negative impact that delays can have on their children’s outcomes, with comments such as ‘Our children cannot live the lives they deserve to live.’

Whats next for the LA?

The local area is required to produce and submit a Written Statement of Action to Ofsted that explains how the local area will tackle the following areas of significant weakness:

 the failure of the local area to take the joint commissioning actions required to implement the reforms across education, health and social care

 the lack of an overarching coproduced strategy for improving provision for and outcomes of children and young people with SEND

 the number of significant weaknesses in the EHC processes, timeliness, quality and outcomes of plans

 the long-standing systemic issues with waiting times to access a large number of key services

 poor parental engagement with plans for local area SEND provision and high levels of parental dissatisfaction.


Will this report actually prompt change? We will wait and see ……

Let us know your experience now!

Guest Blog Post: Starting a new school when your child has SEN

Bright Futures

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A couple of weeks ago we asked parents on facebook if they would share their experience and top tips for children starting school for the first time. One parent very kindly offered to write her experience of her daughters first year in primary school and share her top 5 tips which we think you’ll agree are excellent. A big thank you from the Bright Futures team and we hope you enjoy reading too.

A child’s first day at primary school is such an exciting and proud time for many parents, but I can’t say I felt that way when my eldest daughter, Cerys, started. Although it would be another year until she was diagnosed with autism, it had been clear for a while that she wasn’t developing as expected. Amongst other issues, her language was fluent but garbled and she struggled with following instructions, both of which caused problems at nursery.

The school day is structured and predictable, which helped Cerys a lot, but she took a while to grasp all the rules. Once she was found roaming the corridors, and a few times forgot to go to the toilet. Noone made a big deal of this, and she soon got the hang of how things worked with gentle and consistent reminders.

Three years on, I won’t pretend it’s been plain sailing but Cerys loves school both for the learning and the friendships. My advice to parents approaching this now would be:

Do introduce changes in routine before school begins. For us, this meant going to her new childminder the week before, wearing her uniform around the house, and walking past the school.

  1. Do go in with an open mind and be positive about school to your child. The school we ended up with was not our first choice, but we embraced it and didn’t let on we had concerns.

  2. Do be specific with your school about what your child needs. I wrote down some common problems I expected and how to deal with them, for example: She may find it difficult to follow instructions. It helps if you can make eye contact first and break the instructions down.

  3. Do maintain contact with the teacher however you can. I only did drop offs two days a week, so we introduced a communication book where we could write messages, such as ‘Cerys was upset when there was a loud banging noise outside’. The teaching assistant was also great at giving me updates, as she often worked with Cerys closely.

  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. I was allowed to take pictures in the school, such as the visual calendar and playground, which helped to talk through with Cerys at home. Later, she took in ear defenders and a fidget toy.

  5. And finally, don’t compare your child with others. The school was fantastic at this; treating each child as an individual and talking about their skills and potential. This helped me to not feel anxious about what she ‘should’ be doing.