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Edward Timpson, Minister of State for Children and Families, LIVE webchat about SEN reforms, on Tuesday 13 November at 12:00pm

(142 Posts)
FrancesMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 09-Nov-12 22:37:27

You may remember that we were due to have the previous Children's Minister, Sarah Teather, on Mumsnet for a webchat back in September but she was reshuffled just hours beforehand. So we're very pleased that the new Children's Minister, Edward Timpson, will be here for a LIVE webchat on Tuesday 13 November at 12:00pm to discuss the Government?s proposed changes to special educational needs policy.

The Department for Education has been consulting on draft clauses for the Children and Families Bill since September. This is what the DfE says the aims of the bill are:

-Local authorities and local health bodies would be required to plan and commission education, health and care services jointly and publish a clear and transparent 'local offer' of services for children and young people and families.

-A more streamlined assessment process would be put in place, integrating education, health and care services and involving children, young people and their families at its heart.

-A new birth to 25 Education, Health and Care Plan, replacing the current system of Statements and Learning Difficulties Assessments, would reflect the child's or young person's aspirations for the future, as well as their current needs and have a stronger focus on preparing them for adulthood.

-Young people aged 16-25 in further education would have comparable rights to those in schools.

-Families and young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan would have the option of a personal budget for their support.

More information is available here.

Prior to entering Parliament, Edward was a family law barrister in Cheshire, specialising in the cases of vulnerable children. He has two adopted brothers and his parents have fostered 87 children over the last 30 years, many of whom Edward grew up with.

Until his ministerial appointment he was Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Adoption & Fostering and Looked After Children & Care Leavers and Vice Chairman for the Runaway & Missing Children group. He is married with three children.

We know that many posters on Mumsnet are deeply involved in the issues highlighted in the draft bill, and that some of you have already responded to related consultations; now's your chance to put your questions and concerns directly to the minister, so please join us live on Tuesday if you can. If you can't make it on the day, please post up your questions in advance here.

Thanks

MNHQ

HotheadPaisan Tue 13-Nov-12 06:59:36

Good point very confused, often mainstream inclusion is equated with 'doing what everyone else does as everyone else does it', this is an impossible thing to ask of many children with SEND.

Eliza22 Tue 13-Nov-12 08:22:28

I need reassurance, Mr Timpson.

I fought hard and long for my son's Statement. It took years, despite a diagnosis aged 4 and a lot of support from professionals. We were told he did not meet the criteria. In short, he wasn't "bad enough". Years later, having pushed for the "unnecessary" Statement, it has made the difference in getting into a mainstream primary setting, which was excellent for kids with autism. He's now in mainstream secondary with SEN Attachment (unit) which again, is exactly what he has needed. Places for this school were very tight. HE WOULD NOT HAVE GAINED A PLACE, WITHOUT HIS STATMENT. I consider that we have been extremely lucky.

I should add that one primary school setting we visited, made it very clear that they would find it difficult to "deal" with my son's needs, referring to him as being one of "these difficult placements". My son has high functioning ASD.

I am reluctant to let the Statement go. What can you say to me to convince me that a blanket plan for all will cover my individual son's needs?

BoffinMum Tue 13-Nov-12 08:59:54

I am reading through other people's questions on this thread and the anxiety and distress parents suffer over these issues is palpable. Is there anything that can be done to reduce the personal impact of necessarily cumbersome bureaucracy on families with disabled children? Currently having disabled children means a double whammy of misfortune - massive personal responsibility combined with the need to enter the SEN war zone and battle on a daily basis, often paying out a lot if money in order to be able to battle. This can't be right in a civilised society, can it?

The whole system is corrupt, what happened to EDCM etc ??

My son has been left at home for over 3 year with no services thats needed while the LEA chose to disregard his issues/disabilities. His statement has been sent to 5 neighboroing LA's with no luck, no one can meet his needs. Limbo !!

To clarify the matter DS has a well known syndrome as well as a few other disabilities that profs seem to steer clear of, quite severe in his needs, can be 2:1 never mind 1:1, he has been statemented from 2 year old and has attended special school since then, until his stress and anxiety that school caused him meant he could no longer face it. Stress and anxiety caused by issues he has declared and been told.....it's not!!!

So where do you go when the whole system is failing??

AgnesDiPesto Tue 13-Nov-12 10:24:45

Bureaucracy can be essential safeguards. its breaking rules not rules themselves causes problems. Blatant ignoring or down playing needs. We won ten times cost of LA provision at tribunal a massive margin of error for a 3 year old. How can a LA be so far out without competence being questioned. Short term gamekeeping just leads higher costs later.

Queenmarigold Tue 13-Nov-12 10:28:00

I totally agree with all that has been said on here - and look forward to the answers.

The other issue I would like to see discussed is the issue of disability living allowance.
- It is currently not enough, I have had to take a pay cut of £15K so I can take care of my child and I need that money to pay for sp. equipment and educational provisions
- It is being Cut like other benefits - to what? This is so very scary it is threatening our home

HecatePropylaea Tue 13-Nov-12 10:49:07

Yes. money is an issue.

When you consider that for each and every person WE care for, we save the country thousands of pounds per month (and in some cases, per week). THOUSANDS. - you would think that we would be supported a little bit better.

I would like to see them cope if they had to care for every disabled person in the country because their current family carers refused to do so any more.

straweberryjelly Tue 13-Nov-12 11:00:16

Dear Tim,

My question is Tim what happens to those children who already have statements of special educational needs???????

Do they get converted to an EHC plan? It's a scary thought!

I am a mother of two children both with SEN one who is Autistic and attending special school I had to 'fight' with the LA to get him into a special school. My child could not cope at mainstream school and the school were not capable of meeting his needs. The process to actually get him into a special school whilst at mainstream almost took a year. A whole year of my child's life was put on hold he continued to struggle on.

My child with ASD has a statement although we are appealing to the SENDIST tribunal as the statement doesn't ‘quantify’ or ‘specify’ provision in line with the Sen Code of Practice like many statements I have seen they are all pretty much the same. If you want your child to receive provision or go to a specialist school you have to battle the LA.

The statutory process is a long tiring process as is the route to tribunal but at least parents have the 'right' to request a statutory assessment and the right to appeal to tribunal with the current system.
If these proposed changes go through they will simply take away parents rights to request a statutory assessment there is no other way in excusing this at all. The new bill waters down the parents’ rights, the parents suffer but mostly importantly our children suffer the most. Do they not have enough to contend with already?It will take away the right from parents to be able to appeal to the SEND tribunal.

I am, like I'm sure most parents tired of fighting the system and battling endlessly just to get an education and support for my children but it's something we all have to do because otherwise our children simply wouldn't get the help or provision they need.

What about those children who have Aspergers, Dyslexia, visual impairment those who have an average cognitive ability the new legilsation does not cater for them at all? I think this is absoutley crazy, what will come of these children?

The only advantage is that the age will be raised until 25 which is great and really what the current system should be providing anyway.

Why not just amend the current system and increase the age to 25???

At least with the Sen Code of Practice parent's know what their rights are and the LA know they should write statements in line with the SEN code of practice, although they don't we as parents can at least appeal, why should that right be taken away?

Please do not let these proposals go through everyone will suffer the parents of the children, the children and the schools the list is endless.

This bill should not be passed it protects the Local Authorties not our children!

Our children will NOT befefit from this bill.

This will be the first time that such leglisation is passed to strip away parents rights for getting their children with SEN an education and help they need.

straweberryjelly Tue 13-Nov-12 11:03:46

Dear Tim,

My question is Tim what happens to those children who already have statements of special educational needs???????

Do they get converted to an EHC plan? It's a scary thought!

I am a mother of two children both with SEN one who is Autistic and attending special school I had to 'fight' with the LA to get him into a special school. My child could not cope at mainstream school and the school were not capable of meeting his needs. The process to actually get him into a special school whilst at mainstream almost took a year. A whole year of my child's life was put on hold he continued to struggle on.

My child with ASD has a statement although we are appealing to the SENDIST tribunal as the statement doesn't ‘quantify’ or ‘specify’ provision in line with the Sen Code of Practice like many statements I have seen they are all pretty much the same. If you want your child to receive provision or go to a specialist school you have to battle the LA.

The statutory process is a long tiring process as is the route to tribunal but at least parents have the 'right' to request a statutory assessment and the right to appeal to tribunal with the current system.
If these proposed changes go through they will simply take away parents rights to request a statutory assessment there is no other way in excusing this at all. The new bill waters down the parents’ rights, the parents suffer but mostly importantly our children suffer the most. Do they not have enough to contend with already?It will take away the right from parents to be able to appeal to the SEND tribunal.

I am, like I'm sure most parents tired of fighting the system and battling endlessly just to get an education and support for my children but it's something we all have to do because otherwise our children simply wouldn't get the help or provision they need.

What about those children who have Aspergers, Dyslexia, visual impairment those who have an average cognitive ability the new legilsation does not cater for them at all?

The only advantage is that the age will be raised until 25 which is great and really what the current system should be providing anyway.

Why not just amend the current system and increase the age to 25???

At least with the Sen Code of Practice parent's know what their rights are and the LA know they should write statements in line with the SEN code of practice, although they don't we as parents can at least appeal, why should that right be taken away?

Please do not let these proposals go through everyone will suffer the parents of the children, the children and the schools the list is endless.

This will be the first time that such leglisation is passed to strip away parents rights for getting their children with SEN an education and help they need.

straweberryjelly Tue 13-Nov-12 11:04:28

Sorry didn't mean to post twice!!

straweberryjelly Tue 13-Nov-12 11:20:02

Dear Tim,

My question is Tim what happens to those children who already have statements of special educational needs???????

Do they get converted to an EHC plan? It's a scary thought!

I am a mother of two children both with SEN one who is Autistic and attending special school I had to 'fight' with the LA to get him into a special school. My child could not cope at mainstream school and the school were not capable of meeting his needs. The process to actually get him into a special school whilst at mainstream almost took a year. A whole year of my child's life was put on hold he continued to struggle on.

My child with ASD has a statement although we are appealing to the SENDIST tribunal as the statement doesn't ‘quantify’ or ‘specify’ provision in line with the Sen Code of Practice like many statements I have seen they are all pretty much the same. If you want your child to receive provision or go to a specialist school you have to battle the LA.

The statutory process is a long tiring process as is the route to tribunal but at least parents have the 'right' to request a statutory assessment and the right to appeal to tribunal with the current system.
If these proposed changes go through they will simply take away parents rights to request a statutory assessment there is no other way in excusing this at all. The new bill waters down the parents’ rights, the parents suffer but mostly importantly our children suffer the most. Do they not have enough to contend with already?It will take away the right from parents to be able to appeal to the SEND tribunal.

I am, like I'm sure most parents tired of fighting the system and battling endlessly just to get an education and support for my children but it's something we all have to do because otherwise our children simply wouldn't get the help or provision they need.

What about those children who have Aspergers, Dyslexia, visual impairment those who have an average cognitive ability the new legilsation does not cater for them at all?

The only advantage is that the age will be raised until 25 which is great and really what the current system should be providing anyway.

Why not just amend the current system and increase the age to 25???

At least with the Sen Code of Practice parent's know what their rights are and the LA know they should write statements in line with the SEN code of practice, although they don't we as parents can at least appeal, why should that right be taken away?

Please do not let these proposals go through everyone will suffer the parents of the children, the children and the schools the list is endless.

This will be the first time that such leglisation is passed to strip away parents rights for getting their children with SEN an education and help they need.

Coukd you tell me please personal budgets will work?

Will it be: 'This is what the child needs, and this is what it costs us, so lets offer 2/3 of that to parents to deliver it themselves'?

Or will it be 'Lets only recruit professionals who are likely to underplay or completely miss the needs of the children so they don't cost us much when the parents ask for the personal budgets'?

And what form of appeal will there be if an LA refuses?

Finally, why have you named the local offer 'offer'?. I prefer the term delivery as it gives me a glimmer of hope that some families might actually be able to get access to it.

And for a second question, if allowed, can you tell me why the system enabled my LA to use taxpayers money to put up a barrister against my appeal for my son to have ABA provision despite my being able to demonstrate not only that it was cost effective over his lifetime, but cheaper in the current financial year?

FrancesMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Nov-12 11:26:20

Hi Ed- this is a question from UK disability charity Scope

Over the past few weeks, significant numbers of users on Mumsnet, Gransnet and other parenting communities have contacted their MPs in support Scope’s ‘Keep us Close’ campaign for local services for disabled families.

As other posters have mentioned, you have spoken about the need for a ‘local offer’. Many would like to know if you will commit to go beyond this by requiring councils to provide services for disabled families locally?

JeanBillie Tue 13-Nov-12 11:28:37

Would you ever consider a Nadine Dorries-style approach to getting your message out to a wider audience?

insanityscratching Tue 13-Nov-12 11:39:38

Presently parents have the option of complaining to the LGO when LA's fail to meet their statutory duty. My experience has been that the LGO seemingly don't understand the legislation that the LEA's seemingly flout without hesitation and therefore parents have no real course of redress whilst waiting upwards of five months to get to SENDt. Are there any plans to review the efficacy of the LGO?

Sorry, posted too soon:

can you tell me why the system enabled my LA to use taxpayers money to put up a barrister against my appeal for my son to have ABA provision despite my being able to demonstrate not only that it was cost effective over his lifetime, but cheaper in the current financial year?

What protection do parents have from the stress these kind of tactics and wastage of taxpayers money, and does the new legislation hold LAs to account for such expenditure that appears to be about keeping money in-house rather than spent on the needs of the child?

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 11:51:49

Testing

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 11:57:47

Hi everyone Edward Timpson the Children and Families Minister here. It's great to get the opportunity to chat with you all today and learn more about your views on special educational needs and our planned reforms. I know many of you will have already made your voice heard through the development of the Green Paper and the consultation, but as the new Minister I am keen to listen to what you have to say. I will do my best to answer as many of the points raised as fast as my fingers can type, but any points we don't manage to cover , we will follow up afterwards.

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:02:34

Eliza22

I need reassurance, Mr Timpson.

I fought hard and long for my son's Statement. It took years, despite a diagnosis aged 4 and a lot of support from professionals. We were told he did not meet the criteria. In short, he wasn't "bad enough". Years later, having pushed for the "unnecessary" Statement, it has made the difference in getting into a mainstream primary setting, which was excellent for kids with autism. He's now in mainstream secondary with SEN Attachment (unit) which again, is exactly what he has needed. Places for this school were very tight. HE WOULD NOT HAVE GAINED A PLACE, WITHOUT HIS STATMENT. I consider that we have been extremely lucky.

I should add that one primary school setting we visited, made it very clear that they would find it difficult to "deal" with my son's needs, referring to him as being one of "these difficult placements". My son has high functioning ASD.

I am reluctant to let the Statement go. What can you say to me to convince me that a blanket plan for all will cover my individual son's needs?

Thanks for your question Eliza. To reassure you our reforms intend to continue the current definition of SEN, but to ensure a much smoother transition from primary to secondary and then onto education post 16, we are introducing a single Education Health and Care Plan that can run from age 0 - 25, helping someone in your son's position get a more seamless plan that brings all the services he needs closer together both in terms of joint commissioning and delivery.

kaz1119 Tue 13-Nov-12 12:04:09

Dear Edward,

I have a child with a complex and severe disability and my child has recently been statemented. As you might be well aware, a statement does need to specify and quantify provision. My child’s statement does not. We are going to tribunal over our LA’s refusal to issue a statement that is in line with current legislation. We cannot afford legal representation. However, our LA will attend the tribunal with a tax payer funded legal team. My disabled child on the other hand has no access to legal representation.

How will the changes to the current ensure that:
a)LA will no longer be able to use delaying tactics in order to prevent children with SEN to access the provision they need in order to make progress?
b)How will you ensure that the disable child has access to legal representation when faced with an LA that is clearly not meeting its statutory duty in meeting the child’s needs.

Oh, and will I be able to access ABA under the 'local offer'?

Thank you.

HotheadPaisan Tue 13-Nov-12 12:05:06

Who owns the creation and implementation of the plan? What legal redress if there if any part of the plan is not implemented?

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:08:13

HotheadPaisan

Welcome, glad to have the opportunity to speak with you.

So, the main issues I think are this:

I am concerned existing case law will be discarded and we will have to start new litigation to establish what is and isn't covered, how can this be avoided?

The extension to 25 is good but could be done with existing legislation, why not just do that?

You can't go to SENDT for the health and social care aspects, so why include them? It might just delay things and there will be no redress.

Mediation is no good unless it's completely independent and voluntary and does not add to already lengthy timescales, can it be changed to state that?

There is nothing that penalises LAs financially for flouting the existing laws, how will this change under these proposals?

Some Pathfinders aren't releasing the funds to trial education direct payments, how can they be made to?

The right of parents to request an assessment needs to be explicit, this has got a bit lost, will it be made clear?

What process will SENCOP and any regulations accompanying the proposals go through? If the guidance isn't statutory it will not improve things.

In a nutshell, I think you could achieve the key aims - help to 25 and education direct payments, by extending existing SEN legislation and introducing financial penalties for LAs who flout the law, why not just do this?

Some good questions. To make it absolutely clear to all Mumsnet users the protections that parents have under the current system will be carried forward into the new system. That includes the right to request an assessment as well including new rights, such as the right to request a specific school in your EHCPlan. These rights will also be extended from 0 - 25. As I said at the Select Committee last week, if we need to make this clearer in the draft legislation we will do so.

The legislation will also bring further improvements and benefits, including the joint commissioning of services and the development with parents and young people of a local offer that sets out what services are available in the local area, how to access them and how to make a complaint.

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:09:48

JeanBillie

Would you ever consider a Nadine Dorries-style approach to getting your message out to a wider audience?

My fear of snakes would I suspect preclude me from taking a similar approach!

EdwardTimpsonMP Tue 13-Nov-12 12:12:46

HotheadPaisan

What is the proposed legislative timescale now the pathfinders have been extended to Sept 2014?

Happy to clarify. It's still our intention to introduce legislation early in the new year. The extension of the pathfinders is to both continue to learn from them and help shape the regulations and code of practice to come as well as help those areas outside of pathfinders prepare for the new system. I have been encouraged by some of the innovative work going on in the pathfinders.

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