Tuesday, 20 February 2018

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Dene Dunn

Dene Dunn

Hi my name is Dene and I work for Portsmouth Disability Forum maintaining and developing their websites. We are always looking to improve our website and welcome any feedback you may have as this helps us to create a website that is easy to navigate, understand and meets your information needs. If you have any suggestions please feel free to email me (denedunn@blueyonder.co.uk).

The Council for Disabled Children is working as the Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Disability Strategic Reform Partner to the Department for Education. As part of this role they are running a ‘Countdown to Change programme,’ developing and collating information highlighting key aspects of the SEN reforms, as outlined in the Children and Families Bill.

Below is a link to a selection of free key resources produced by CDC and their partners highlighting different aspects of changes to SEN and disability policy:


You can find further information on the SEND reforms atwww.councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/childrenandfamiliesbill

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Three days ahead of the deadline for pre-summer parliamentary approval, the Department for Education yesterday laid before Parliament its final draft of the new Code of Practice along with publishing a raft of other vital documents for the new SEND reform system.

Debs Apsland from the Special Needs Jungle has today published an overview which she has asked readers to share as widely as possible so as many parents as possible can read about the reforms.

The Code must be approved by BOTH Houses of Parliament before it can come into force on 1 September 2014. This is when the new system, covering children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities from birth to age 25 in England is due to commence.

The code provides statutory guidance on duties, policies and procedures relating to part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014 and all of the regulations that go along with it.

To be clear: Until then, the current SEN system remains in force until 1 September 2014.

So, this is what has now been published:

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SEN Departments in local authorities in England are currently (or should be) working feverishly on a new “Graduated Response” document aimed at identifying and helping children with special educational needs.

In the current system, the graduated response is based on the familiar levels of SEN of School Action and School Action Plus. Then, if after a period of time it looks like a child isn’t responding adequately to these increasing levels of intervention, a school or more likely a parent, will seek a Statutory Assessment of the child’s special educational needs.

Tania Tirraoro founder at the Special Needs Jungle shares her views on the impending changes and whether she feels that schools are ready for this change. The reason why there is currently little detail in the forthcoming Code of Practice about thresholds and criteria, says the DfE, is because they want to remove as much ‘prescription’ as possible and give talented and dedicated SENCos more freedom to use the methods that work for their pupils as individuals. This is, of course, Person Centred Planning and although there will be no Individual Education Plans (IEPs) teachers will still have to keep records, which is where the Buzzphrase “Assess, Plan, Do, Review’ comes in.

Assess, Plan Do, Review shouldn’t really be new as a concept to good teachers and SENCos. It should be what they are doing anyway – identify what the core problem(s) is and plan an appropriate strategy, taking into account how the child learns the best. Then carry out the plan and review how it’s working. There are no set number of APDR cycles needed before it’s decided a statutory assessment for an Education, Health and Care Plan is required. An EHCP is called for where the need and cost of support to ensure the child’s planned outcomes are achieved, can no longer reasonably be met by the school from its own resources.

Tania also mentions the difficulty in how to involve 'parents as partners', she suggests that parents be involved in co-producing, along with their child, a one page profile or student passport giving the teacher a good excuse to sit down with the parent, listen to their and their child’s views and build up a visual plan; although she highlights that there are two potential difficulties – firstly, if the teacher/SENCo does not embrace the spirit of the reforms and secondly, if the parent does not want to be involved in this way. Parents reading this are probably engaged and active in helping their child, but there are many parents who either do not want or are not able to participate.

There are just a few weeks left of the current term and the Code of Practice is still a draft – the final version for submitting to parliament for approval is not yet published, although it cannot be far away.

Tania states that the future of our special needs children will be even more reliant on the skills of education professionals to recognise and take action when they see an educational or social deficit in a child. There isn’t much time until these changes come into force, although for those children with existing statements, nothing will change until they are moved over to an EHCP at the next transition point or if their statement needs to be updated.

Tania's blog makes for interesting reading and goes into much more depth - to read the full article please click on the link below:



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Special Needs Jungle representative, Tania Tirraoro attended a meeting at the Department for Education to talk about how best the DfE could explain to parents the new special educational needs reforms as set out in the forthcoming SEN Code of Practice.

She explains that the difficulty here is that when you say ‘parents’ you’re actually talking about a huge range of people. Parents of children with disabilities are not ‘one size fits all’ and come from as many walks of life as people do in general. There are two things they do have in common however: a child whose needs are significantly greater than average and the fact that that makes them incredibly busy. In many cases it also makes them very stressed, and this can have an effect on the way they take in information. 

This means that the job of explaining a 250+ page document is quite an undertaking as it needs to be pitched at a level that is accessible to all and the DfE are, quite sensibly, looking to parents to help. The forum was well attended with other representatives from IPSEA; the National Parent Carer Forums organisation, NNPCF and representatives from various local PCFs; The National Parent Parent Partnership, NPPN; Contact a Family and everyone agreed that a guide was necessary.

Tania highlights that the problem with a guide is that most parents who have children with SEN will be concerned with the lower levels of SEN assistance that will be changing from School Action and School Action Plus to the single category of “SEN Support”. But, because the DfE was determined to make these levels less “prescriptive” and leave teachers with the flexibility to give children the support they need as an individual, there is very little explanation of what parents can expect as a standard measure in the draft Code of Practice and you can read more about her concerns by clicking here

All this information needs to be explained in the Code of Practice parents' explanatory booklet with further discussion on how to get this information to parents and in what format. The Special Needs Jungle are delighted to be part of these meetings and will continue to publish updates. They also suggest that if parents have any ideas they are invited to comment on the article. To read the article in full please click on the link below:



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b2ap3 thumbnail ycopOver a six week period the Council for Disabled Children (CDC) carried out and commissioned 19 focus groups with disabled young people across England on the draft Code of Practice. CDC spoke with a wide range of young people aged 5-25 years.

The young people who took part in the focus groups talked to us about a range of issues, including: decision making; EHC plans; the Local Offer, transition to adulthood and access to information.

This report brings together young people's views from those discussions.

An accessible version of the young people's report can be found here.

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Posted by on in SEN - Personal Experience

Undesirable behaviour from our children is much more obvious than desirable behaviour.  Hence we are more likely to notice when they are misbehaving than when they are behaving well, thus, a child is likely to receive much more attention from their parents/carers for behaving badly than for when they behave well.  This can lead them to repeat the undesirable behaviour because it gets them noticed by you.

It can be useful to redress the balance - try to 'catch your child doing something good'!  Look for opportunities to offer praise and encouragement when they are exhibiting desirable behaviour - things you would like them to repeat.  Look for small achievements as well as large ones and times when your child/young person has demonstrated effort even if they have not yet achieved some final goal.

Receiving praise is likely to make your child/young person feel good and nurture their self-esteem and confidence.  I read once that children need at least 5 times as many compliments as criticisms. Building self-esteem and confidence is important for everyone especially children and young people and most of all those with additional needs who have to take extra "knocks" when growing up.

Some people worry that praising their children will  lead them to be over-confident or conceited; however I would suggest that it is more of a risk to give a child too little praise, rather than too much.

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

Often parents who are either waiting for a diagnosis (or where there is an unconfirmed diagnosis) sometimes wonder whether they should wait until there is a definite diagnosis before talking to their child's school. Obviously this is the parents decision but schools need to know as much as possible about the child to be able to support them in the best way.

It is their individual needs and the impact that this has for them in the school environment that matters. The child is no different and their needs are exactly the same with or without a diagnosis. The important thing is to identify the child’s needs and then see what can be put in place to meet these. The earlier these are identified and start being addressed the better.

The label attached to the diagnosis is useful to inform people, it can guide on strategies and approaches, and it can make obtaining funding/support easier but it can also lead to preconceived ideas and lower expectations. It is the specific needs of the individual that is the important thing. Every child with Down’s syndrome is different, every child on the autistic spectrum is different, and every child with cerebral palsy is different just as every child without any additional needs is different. Having a diagnosis is helpful and important but knowing the individual needs of the child and working together to meet these is the fundamental factor. 

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iSign Booklet WEB-1The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) have published a new guide for families of young deaf children in England on learning British Sign Language.

The guide explains some of the reasons why parents learn BSL as well as outlining the support that might be available to them from their local authority. The guide also describes barriers some parents have faced in learning BSL and how access could be improved through the forthcoming Special Educational Needs reforms.

Please click here to visit the NDCS website and download the PDF guide, alternatively, you can order a printed copy from their Helpline: 0808 800 8880 or email: helpline@ndcs.org.uk or click on the link below:

I sign guide

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Last autumn the Department for Education launched a public consultation on a new Code of Practice. By the time the consultation closed on 9th December it had received over 700 responses. Over the last four months the responses have been collated and analysed resulting in further discussions to ensure that revisions secure maximum clarity for those who will be using it.

Today the revisions made to the Code since the public consultation have been made available by the Department of Education and can be viewed online at www.education.gov.uk/consultations/.

The next stage will be for the Department for Education to consult on the revised Code of Practice and more information about how to take part in this consultation can be found on their website at www.education.gov.uk/consultations/. The consultation will run from 16th April to Tuesday 6th May at 5:00pm.

The Council for Disabled Children have published a news article which gives an overview of the revisions since the 2013 public consultation together with the consultation questions - to read this article please click on the link below:


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Children's minister Edward Timpson and health minister Dr Dan Poulter have written to teachers, colleges, local authorities and parents about the SEND reforms, describing the changes the Department for Education is introducing in September 2014 to improve support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The first 3 letters ask local authoritiescolleges and teachers working with children with SEND to implement the reforms correctly.

The fourth letter is for parents of children with SEND and explains what the move to the new system will mean for them and their family.

To view any of these letters please click on the links above.

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