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Anyone going to Surrey Pathfinder Special Needs Reform Update Conference tomorrow in Leatherhead?

(9 Posts)
pinkorkid Thu 22-Nov-12 19:15:48

As part of their role as pathfinders, Surrey CC are running a Special Needs Reform Update Conference on the 23rd November at Leatherhead Leisure Centre

Times: 9.30am -1.30pm
Conference includes:
A series of briefings on the Draft Legislation and the SEND Pathfinder and an opportunity for discussion

Wondering if anyone had heard about this/planning to go/ been to anything similar?

Inaflap Thu 22-Nov-12 20:28:01

No not been told. I know from ds advisor that at long last the name is sorted and she still seems to be doing what she was before. Are you going? I'm not feeling brilliant and not sure whether to go.

pinkorkid Thu 22-Nov-12 22:30:33

Hi inaflap, Yes, I'm hoping to be there, (barring any major crises at home in the morning).
Sorry you're not feeling great but if you feel any better in the morning and decide to go, do you want to post on here or pm me? Be nice to be able to roll eyeballs and sigh expressively in good company smile

justcoping Fri 23-Nov-12 12:24:46

Hi pinkorkid, would have to liked to go but couldn't because of childcare issues. How did it go? All fluff or some concrete discussions.... Please post on your views when you get back. TIA

Inaflap Fri 23-Nov-12 13:56:22

Hi, couldn't go as I felt a bit rough, DS2 was home ill and husband is also ill but doing that man thing of just coughing himself senseless but saying all is fine. Did you by any chance go to the transition metting in late august also at Leatherhead. It was very useful although my son and I could have done without the death by powerpoint. I'm surprised Ginny, our pathfinder (that seriously sounds stupid) didn't tell us about this. Let me know how it went. I'd loved to have done eye rolling with you, perhaps, unwittingly, we have already eye rolled with each other!

pinkorkid Fri 23-Nov-12 23:54:15

Hi justcoping and inaflap, sorry you couldn't make it.

The conference was interesting, not as eye-roll-provoking as I had feared -although it had it's moments - but I was glad I went.
Speakers included parents, voluntary agencies, head of children's services for surrey, surrey cc's lead on pathfinder and the regional head of SE7 (the larger pathfinder group of which surrey is part), a dept of education bod and a sen specialist barrister (who also has a daughter with Downs syndrome.)

There was quite a bit of breast beating and talk of a new less adversarial culture from the 2 surrey reps (seemed sincere), the regional se7 head waffled, the politician sounded convincing until pressed on the details when he wriggled said the lawyers would kill him if he committed himself to any details without consulting them and the barrister spoke in a deceptively gentle manner and systematically pointed out the main flaws in the draft bill and tried to pin him down. She was the only one to win spontaneous sustained applause.

There were discussions in groups facilitated by family voice about 1 question per table put to the panel although the others written down were gathered up afterwards plus some feedback forms that someone will no doubt read. There is a follow up meeting planned for the new year no date yet.

inaflap, I didn't know about at the one in august. In fact bizarrely got the info about this in newletter from dd's primary school not from ds' special school.

This thread seemed to have disappeared off the sn board spookily enough - and that was before i posted anything unflattering about local or national government..wink

Delalakis Sat 24-Nov-12 19:05:28

I was there. The Department for Education bod was Stephen Kingdom. He's a civil servant,not a politician, and I was quite pleased to hear him confirm that they're putting right some of the errors in the draft bill - though he was certainly ducking and diving a bit about precisely how. He kept saying they had to leave it to the lawyers, but then he admitted that the DfE instructs the lawyers and someone rightly asked why he didn't just instruct them to use the wording in the current Act which is tried and tested.

I wasn't impressed by all the earnest talk from Surrey's representatives about how desperate they are to work with parents to make things better. If they're that desperate, why aren't they obeying the current law on how to write statements?

The problem with the barrister's presentation is that it was already out of date, in that it included problems like the omission of a right to request statutory assessment, and the DfE has been saying for some time that they're going to put that back in. She made a blooper when she said that the local offer isn't legally enforceable, because obviously it is, in just the same way as the current legal provisions are, and I did wonder how come a lawyer wouldn't know that. Also I didn't understand why she was so keen on joint reports.

The big hole seemed to me to be how anyone can enforce the health and social care elements of the new plans, and if they aren't enforceable, is there really much point in having them in there? I suspect they'll end up getting largely ignored like the current parts 5 and 6 of statements.

pinkorkid Sat 24-Nov-12 20:50:48

Yes you're right about Stephen Kingdom - I was unsure as I wrote it but too lazy to get out of bed and check the agenda.

I also wondered why he wasn't keen on naming the lawyers. It would be interesting to know their backgrounds and whether any of them have worked extensively on behalf of Local Authorities before, given their penchant for substituting "if the LA is of the opinion that" for any objective criterion and accidentally omitting parents right to request assessment in their first draft.

I thought the barrister did acknowledge some of her criticisms had already been addressed, as she read out update from Edward Timpson about making sure parents right to request SA remained but yes odd about the local offer mistake. I suppose with joint reports you could say it would save time and money but, if the La are expected to pay, will the reports be independent? Normally some doubt about that, which is why those who can afford it commission their own.

I don't see how it will be practicable to have joint commissioning unless one party has overall budgetary responsibility and can be held accountable for ensuring provision. There should be clear guidelines that any health or social care issue that impacts on a child's ability to access an education falls within the remit of the EHC plan, that all elements of provision can be enforced and that we can appeal to tribunal against failure to do so. At the moment it sounds like there will be guarantees given about SALT which features most heavily in case law to date but potentially at the expense of less widely accessed therapies such as OT, psychotherapy, behavioural therapy etc.

The positive impression I took away from the conference was that the parents and voluntary group involved in the pathfinding process seemed confident that they were not just being listened to but that they were taking an active part in forming the recommendations being made. I do think the number of pilot cases - 3 so far and up to 40 planned - may give an inadequate picture given that there are ca. 5000 children currently with statements in Surrey.

Delalakis Sat 24-Nov-12 23:12:38

Pinkorkid, I agree, my concern with joint reports is also whether they would be truly independent. The barrister did acknowledge that some of her points had been addressed, but in a number of instances we knew this before the conference so it's difficult to understand why she spent time on it.

I think the lawyers that Stephen Kingdom was referring to would be the specialist ones working in the Parliamentary draftsmen's office who draft all statutes.

I'm sure that it's right that most people involved in the Pathfinders are trying to make it work. What I really question is whether that will last, and whether the LAs which are now failing will realistically do any better under the new legislation. Given that they are now more cash-strapped than they have ever been, I really doubt it, and I don't really see why this is being put forward as the answer to all SEN children's problems. We heard all this stuff about joint working with the Every Child Matters campaign, and that didn't work because the reality is that different LA and NHS departments will always do everything they can to protect their budgets.

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