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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).

CYP Now (Children and Young People Now) is offering their readers the opportunity to ask children’s minister Edward Timpson questions about the special educational needs (SEN) reforms.

Laura McCardle from CYP says that they are accepting questions from readers about the reforms, which will then be put to Timpson to answer. His responses will be published in a forthcoming issue of the magazine and online.

From September, a raft of new duties will come into force that will radically alter the way local authorities, schools and other agencies work with children and young people with SEN.

A key provision of the reforms, introduced under the Children and Families Act 2014, is the introduction of education, health and care (EHC) plans to co-ordinate support for all children and young people aged up to 25, replacing statements of SEN.

In addition, children and young people with SEN, and their families, will be offered personal budgets to carry out their EHC plan, giving them greater control over their care.

Local authorities will also be required to publish a “local offer” containing details of all the support available to disabled children and young people and families in the area – not just those with SEN.

To submit your questions, Tweet CYP Now using the handles @cypnow and @lauramccardle, email laura.mccardle@markallengroup.com or visit their website http://www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1145220/timpson-answer-readers-questions-sen-reforms#sthash.vYx62k0o.dpuf

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Edward Timpson has made a YouTube video on the importance of local authorities working closely with parents, and organisations working together, to make the new SEND system work for families. Click on the video link below to listen:


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The Special Needs Jungle regularly report on SEND reform issues and this week they have published concerns raised about the Children and Families Act.

As you are probably aware if you have been following these posts the new Code of Practice was published recently - all 277 pages of it. The current Code of Practice is 142 pages.  One may suggest that this should make us feel more protected however the SEN Jungle say that one parent who had read through the new Code of Practice claimed it was “twice the size but half the content”. They are requesting that parents contact them to let them know what you think or ask questions and you can do so by visiting their Facebook page or on Twitter.

The article raises concerns about the following issues:

  • The Health and Care Elements of an Education, Health and Care Plan are not appealable.
  • Children with a disability and no SEN cannot get an Education Health and Care Plan
  • Care (and possibly Health) elements are not directly enforceable
  • Special Academies can admit children without an Education Health and Care Plan
  • Post 16 rights – solely with the child
  • Compulsory Mediation advice
  • Personal Budgets
  • Local Offer
  • Late issue of Code of Practice and Regulations

To read all about the above issues please go to their website by clicking on the link below:


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EHCP stands for Education Health and Care Plan - this is what co writer Debs Apsland, from the Special Needs Jungle would like the EHCP to really stand for.

E is for Education.

E is also for Empathy. Those who work with our families should have empathy with the fact that we did not choose to have a child with SEN, we did not choose to be sleep-deprived or choose to have to ask (or beg) for the additional support our children need.

E is also for encouragement. Sometimes, it all gets a bit too much, this is when we need encouragement from those working with our children. Encouragement to get back up and continue.  Our children also need Encouragement.

E is also for Evolving. The processes, the Plan and the policies need to evolve with the learning we will gain as we go forward.  My child’s needs will also change and evolve, the Plans processes and policies also need to address this.

E is for Evidence-based.  Let’s not make assumptions because of a particular label our child may have, let’s get evidence please before we make decisions.

E is for Expectations.  We have expectations of our children, we want others to have them too.  Sitting our child next to you while you cut out magazine pictures for a project but not involving the child because you don’ think they can participate is immoral.  Have expectations.  One thing I have learned through my time in the Jungle is how my children can amaze me with what they can do, with the right support.  Have expectations and share in our amazement.

E is most importantly for Equality. We are not asking for much, just equal opportunities, voices and rights for our children.

E should not stand for Ego. Egos have no place in this world. Egos need to be left at the door.  This is never about you or your position, your role or any aspect of you.  This should always be about the child or young person.  So, park the ego please.

E should not stand for Exclusion.  Excluding our children – from activities, school trips or from education – does not benefit our child or families in the least.  It may help education settings and universal providers but it hugely limits our children.

E should not stand for Exhaustion.  Don’t make this journey any more tiring than it has to be.  Don’t tie us up in knots trying to find solutions that we are too tired to manage even the small every day duties we have.

H is for Health

H is also for Help.  Sometimes, actually quite frequently, we don’t know what we don’t know.  This is when we need your help. Sometimes, our child’s needs change suddenly or the dynamics of our family change.  This is when we need your help. Sometimes, we have to watch our children deal with mental health issues but they don’t meet the criteria for CAMHS or the wait list is huge.  This is when we need your help.

H is for Hearing.  Hear us when we talk about our child.  We may not know everything about education, health or care but we do know everything about our child.  We know what they are trying to say, we know what their behaviour can indicate, so hear us when we talk.

H is for harmonious.  Let’s not have a battle.  Let’s work together.  In every battle there is always a loser, let it not be our child.

H shouldn’t stand for hold up.  Do you know how frustrating it is to sit in a meeting time and time again where decisions cannot be made because the decision maker isn’t there?  Do you know how frustrating it can be when the decision maker is then away so another hold up occurs.

C is for Care

C is also for Co-production.  Don’t ask us what we think once you have made up your mind but need to ask us.  Ask us to be involved at the beginning of the discussion.  Work with us rather than for us.

C is for co-operation.  Co-operation is essential, especially for joint-commission to work effectively.

C is for consistency.  In the Jungle, inconsistency is one of the most prevalent diseases.  Having one practitioner telling you one thing and then having their colleague, who sits next to them, tell you something else is the bane of our lives.  Be consistent.

C is also for Communication.  Communicate, not just with us, not just in meetings but up and down the chain.  Having sat in many meetings with senior management and hearing plans and expectations, it is beyond frustrating when I then sit in a meeting with the practitioners working with my children who have no knowledge of any of it.  Communication is key.  It’s not rocket science but without it, everything fails.

C is also for creativity.  Be creative with outcomes, be creative with ideas on how to support our children.  By creative, I mean don’t just think outside the box, throw the box away.

C should not stand for Control.  No one should “control” the process.  Someone may have to have overall responsibility but responsibility and control are very different.  Take responsibility but not control.

C should not stand for cumbersome.  The idea behind the Children and Families Act is that the process to get support for our children should not be so long-winded.  Let’s not introduce more cumbersome processes.

C should not stand for Convenient.  This process should not be done with an idea of what would be most convenient for anyone other than the child or young person.

C should not stand for Confusing.  Let’s get rid of the jargon and the use of acronyms.  Let’s use real words and language, please.

P is for Plan

P also stand for Patience.  These changes are going to take some getting used to for all of us.  We need to have some patience.  We need to remember that not everyone knows about the changes ahead and probably won’t realise until it has an impact on their child.  Don’t berate them, remember you only know because you were told; perhaps no one has told them.

P is also for Partners.  Let’s be partners in this new system.  Let’s work together.  The definition of Partner is a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, with shared risks or profits.  We will have less risks of failure and more chance of profiting from children reaching their potential if we are true partners in this process.

P is most importantly for Personalisation.  Let’s make this about the individual child or young person.  One cap does not fit all.  In one school, my son was in a class of boys, the same age and with the same diagnosis.  Guess what?  They were all different.  They all learned differently, their communication was different and he wasn’t thriving.  Now, in a class of boys, all with similar abilities and learning methods, he has made progression we could have previously only hoped for.  Person Centred thinking is essential.  Not everyone needs to know how to write a person-centred review or plan but everyone needs to think in a person-centred way.

P should not stand for Politics.  So often, local politics and policies have a “slight variation” to the actual legislation.  Politics and Personalities are something we have written about before on Special Needs Jungle. They don’t help our children and young people, so again, let’s leave them at the door with the egos.

P should not stand for Pigeon-hole.  How often have we heard “well your child has diagnosis x so therefore he belongs in that box with that provision and those opportunities.”   Our children are children first and foremost.  This means they are individuals and therefore should be treated as such.  Often I hear parents berating a particular field of practitioners, due to their experience of one or two.  Practitioners have told me how hurtful/patronising/unfair this is.  I have heard practitioners berating a particular group parents because they once dared to challenge the decisions of  “experts”.  Parents then tell me how hurtful/patronising/unfair this is.  Let’s do away with pigeon holes.  If we all fitted into a box, life may be easier but boy, wouldn’t it be dull?

So let’s make this EHCP stand for more than Education, Health and Care Plan.  Let’s make it stand for the culture change we need for the Children and Families Act to meet its original goal of making life easier for families.


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The Special Needs Jungle consists of parents of children with SEN themselves, so they know that you will never have the time to get to the end of a long lengthy post before something more pressing demands your attention.

They’ve therefore decided to break down their analysis of the Code of Practice into different posts for different sections. This will allow you to read the bits you are interested in without having to battle through yet another jungle.

The post was written by Debs Apsland, Co-Writer at Special Needs Jungle and they have divided it into sections:

  • Section 6 of the proposed Code of Practice – School
  • What is Special Educational Needs
  • What are the duties on schools?
  • Broad Areas of Need
  • Medical Conditions
  • Curriculum
  • Assess, Plan, Do and Review
  • School Funding
  • Bits that concern us
  • Bits we liked
  • Is this section person-centred?

To read the article please click here http://www.specialneedsjungle.com/code-practice-look-like-schools/

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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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