It wasn’t exactly a quiet summer, was it? Certainly not for the forum, with the publication of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) in mid-August – to which many of you contributed by completing the parent carer survey earlier in the year – and ongoing challenges around home-to-school transport arrangements. So while we’d love to say we’re bursting into September fully refreshed, it’s probably more accurate simply to say we’re still raring to go!
New special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) strategy ahead
It was positive to see that the findings of the JSNA so clearly aligned with what many parents and carers have been telling us, and therefore with the forum’s own priorities. For example, we know change is needed to improve EHCP processes. Mental health support for children and young people continues to be a critical issue. Attainment gaps must be addressed. And access to respite and after-school/holiday clubs needs to be improved.
So, what happens next? The JSNA recommendations will inform East Sussex County Council’s upcoming special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) strategy. Our role is to ensure that the parent carer voice, and children and young people’s experiences, are at the heart of the new strategy. We are currently identifying how the JSNA findings translate into tangible actions and how we can work with different services on these. If you’d like to get involved or tell us your views about how we can try to implement change, please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.
Home to school transport
As mentioned, home-to-school transport was the other significant news of the summer. It was frustrating and disappointing that early, positive work with the transport department on developing comms for parents and carers (as mentioned in our summer newsletter) did not translate into a smooth and efficient experience for families. We published our position statement in July and are encouraged to hear recently that the transport department is now working towards the same goals. We are meeting with them soon to share your feedback and agree ways to work together to ensure the same problems don’t keep on happening every year. If you’d like to be involved, please get in touch.
What else are we doing?
We are pleased to be rushed off our feet. Rather than writing wordy paragraphs on each workstream, we’ve produced a table giving a brief overview of the areas in which we’re currently involved.
You can also see where we have parent carer reps allocated and where there are gaps. Any guesses as to where this is going? Yep, we’re still on the lookout for any parents and carers who can spare a bit of time to help represent the views of the SEND community in East Sussex. There are no hard and fast rules about the level of involvement needed; we can be flexible according to your own interests, experiences and availability. Send us a message if you’d like an informal chat.
If you’re interested in seeing what types of meetings we’re regularly attending, we’ve done a table for that too!
Out and about
It was exciting – and a little strange – finally to be out at an actual face-to-face event when we attended the Defiant Sports Eastbourne Festival of Accessible Sports at the end of August. Talking to families and meeting other organisations reminded us just how valuable it is to meet people in-person. Virtual meetings have been a lifeline during lockdown but it doesn’t compare to sitting together (with tea and biscuits) to discuss ideas, share experiences, and support each other. All being well, we hope to be out and about a bit more over the coming months.
Whatever your summer looked like, and whether or not it constituted an actual ‘break’, we hope you were able to enjoy being with family and friends. If it wasn’t what you hoped for, remember that there are supportive communities ready to listen and help. Get in touch and we can point you in the right direction.
We’ll publish our autumn newsletter next month. In the meantime, we’ll continue to keep in touch by email, on our website, and on social media.
Take care all
ESPCF Sept 2021