FiP’s Role in the ‘SEND and Alternative Provision Change Programme’ in Worcestershire

Change wirtten in scrabble tiles.

The SEND and AP Change Programme (also called the Change Partnership Programme (CPP)) has been getting much traction across the education and disability press, and for good reasons. Nationally parent carers are, unsurprisingly, sceptical and the FiP steering group do share your concerns.

The CPP plans to trial the:

  • Development of ‘national standards’ – a key part of the improvement plan that is (at least in part) aimed at reducing postcode lotteries and making the SEND system less varied and more predictable. (It’s important to note that new national standards can’t replace the existing law on support for children and young people with SEND)
  • Development of ‘local inclusion partnerships’ and ‘local inclusion plans,’ aimed at getting everyone in different organisations (and those outside organisations) working better together, in more accountable ways.
  • Developing individual “tailored lists” of education placements for children and young people with an EHC plan, from which parents/carers will be invited to choose. Parents/carers still have the right to request that a particular school, college or other setting is named in an EHC plan (Section 38, Children and Families Act 2014).
  • Changing the mediation process, with the aim of increasing the number of families who opt for mediation rather than pursuing an appeal to the SEND Tribunal. (NB there are no changes to the law and parent carers can’t be forced to take part in mediation.)
  • Changes to Alternative Provision funding and commissioning.
  • Inclusion dashboards, to help SEND system leaders understand their local areas better, and make better decisions.
  • Better identification and support for children with speech, language and communication needs in early years and primary schools, through a pilot programme called Early Language and Support For Every Child.
  • Testing of a new national template for EHC plans, to replace the current situation where each local authority uses its own template. 

Worcestershire seems to have been missed off many of the CPP county lists published in online articles, but we can confirm that Worcestershire is involved, alongside Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin who will be the lead for the regional partnership.

The parent carer forum (PCF) for each involved county play an official ‘co-production’ role in the CPP. Strictly speaking FiP hasn’t yet been officially commissioned, but in preparation, the new FiP steering group have been reading up and talking to our neighbouring PCFs who are already actively involved. We have also started attending some of the CPP regional planning meetings and providing feedback on the resources we have seen so far.

Like many parent carers we are nervous of what the future holds and which direction this project will lead SEND developments and future provision. But the CPP is live and starting to gain momentum.

FiP’s updated constitution gives us a clear mandate on our involvement:

  • To be the strategic, consultative, and collaborative body within Worcestershire representing families of children and young people aged 0-25 with special educational needs and disabilities. and providing a liaison point for Statutory and Voluntary Agencies within Worcestershire.
  • To work co-operatively and coproduce with local service providers and commissioners to enhance and develop the range and quality of services provided for all children and young people aged 0-25 in Worcestershire with special educational needs and disabilities.
  • To promote and facilitate constructive but challenging dialogues between parent carers, parents’ groups, statutory service providers including the local authority, health providers and professional bodies working in education, health, and social care within Worcestershire.
  • To amplify the collective voice, opinion and experiences of all Worcestershire parent carers supporting children and young people aged 0-25 with special educational needs and disabilities.  

It is FiP’s view that we will better represent Worcestershire parent carers views and experiences by being involved and coproducing alongside our regional partners than watching from the sidelines. Nothing about us without us!

We will therefore start updating you on some of the change programme news and, like other PCFs in other involved counties, we will start sharing the opportunities for Worcestershire parent carers to have their say.

We will keep you updated.