NNPCF Steering Group meets Minister Nadhim Zahawi
May 18, 2018
Yesterday, the NNPCF Steering Group Members spent two hours with Nadhim Zahawi, the Undersecretary of State for Children and Families.
First the NNPCF Co-Chairs participated in a Stakeholders Roundtable which saw a selection of representatives from SEND sector groups and services including; children and young peoples groups, schools, colleges, and charities. Everyone in the room agreed that the SEND Reforms had not yet changed outcomes for children and families and urged the Minister for a renewed focus and leadership to ensure that the reforms succeed in their aspirations. A range of issues were raised, including the pressures on high needs funding, and the disincentives for mainstream schools to be inclusive. The Minister listened and understood the challenges in the systems. It was interesting to hear that the concerns being raised by Parent Carer Forums are strongly echoed by many other groups and organisations demonstrating that we are all coming up against the same challenges and barriers to making the system work effectively and consistently.
NNPCF Co-Chair, Mrunal Sisodia, said
Maureen and I were really encouraged by the roundtable meeting with Nadhim Zahawi. We kicked off the meeting and gave the Minister the message that whilst these were the right reforms, there was no way that we could say that we had delivered on the aspirations of families and young people. There was remarkable agreement in the room about the issues that the forums have been highlighting and the need for strong leadership at all levels of the system, starting with the Ministers.
To see the concerns that we raised with the government, based on the feedback from our forums, please take a look at our State of the Nation report which we have shared with the Minister and the Department for Education.
The Minister then joined the rest of the NNPCF Steering Group. We took the opportunity to share some stories from parent carer forums illustrating the challenges of the reforms but also where we have seen good practice lead to effective change. Examples of issues included, areas that have adopted suspect and possibly illegal approaches to finalising EHCPs in the run up to the conversion deadline and examples of multi-academy trusts moving children with SEN into different schools. The Department for Education promised to look into these cases.
We also shared examples of innovative practice where local areas have come together to jointly commission services and where local colleges have taken the lead on Preparing for Adulthood services, particularly around the extension of Supported Internship Programmes to provide offers for children and young people on SEN support as well as those with EHCPs. The Minister was enthused by these examples and was keen that we should share, incentivise, and replicate good practice.
The Minister committed to continue to work with the NNPCF Steering Group and our member parent carer forums.