National Network of Parent Carer Forums

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NNPCF responds to the Local Government Ombudsman Report.

October 24, 2017

Today BBC breakfast has run a story based on the Local Governments Ombudsman’s report into their first 100 investigations on Education Health Care Plans, of which 79% were upheld.

The National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) welcomes the report. Its findings emphasise our view that, in many areas, the culture and practice required by the reforms are not yet embedded. We believe the focus on SEND and the support for the reforms must continue beyond the end of the implementation period – March 2018. We, in coproduction with our partners, have a great deal of work to do before we can say that we have met the aspirations of the reforms or the expectations of families.

This report reflects the LGO’s findings from those cases that it has been asked to review since introduction of the new system. By their very nature, these complaints represent some of the most difficult and worst cases that children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities face. The report highlights many of the issues that parent carer forums have been reporting such as delays in issuing plans and issues with joint working across agencies. Often, the cases have focussed on areas where Local Authorities are simply not following the processes that the law requires them to.

This report reinforces the key messages that we have been sharing with our partners, most notably the Department for Education. The importance of co-production with families, joint working across agencies, the quality of advice submitted and the need for review of local practices are all critical if the system is to work effectively. We have been working with our partners in national and local government to ensure these areas are given the right priority.

The report, by its very nature focusses on examples where families feel they have been the most let down. However, it recognises that the system is not failing universally: the number of complaints received has been relatively small and that surveys indicate that the system is an improvement over the old one.

There is, however, no room for complacency and EHCPs remain a key focus for the NNPCF into 2018.