Amaze
 
ESPCF June Newsletter
Hello everyone, and welcome to our June (just) newsletter. We’ve got lots to update you on. But first, something we’d like to say...
 
During lockdown, our collaborative work with PaCC and Amaze has helped us to reach as many families as possible, across as wide a platform as possible, and in the most efficient way. It has enabled us to gather feedback at a fast pace due to the pressures of COVID-19 and has also alleviated pressure on ESPCF members, who we know are under immense stress and strain at the moment. We’re proud of what we have achieved with our colleagues in other organisations during this really challenging time.
 
However, we want to reiterate that our purpose, and our priority, is to represent your views and experiences, and that ESPCF is here as the forum for parent carers in East Sussex.

Right then, back to business.
 
 
 
Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) working group
 
 
We are excited to tell you that, as a result of your feedback, our parent carer representative from the forum, Erika Freeman, has been working collaboratively with partners in education, health, and social care, to put together a joint position statement on Pathological Demand Avoidance, and this will soon be available to share with you.
 
 
Calling all members
 
 
Look out for a phone call, email, or text from our fab engagement coordinator, Denise Banks, who is following up on the calls she made to all members in April. Denise will be checking in to see how you are coping and to listen to anything you’d like to share; she has already started calls and hopes to have contacted everyone by mid-July.
 
 
Letter to all East Sussex schools
 
 
On 5 June we sent a letter, jointly with Amaze, to all SENCOs and head teachers in East Sussex outlining key suggestions from parent carers for schools and colleges working to support their CYP with SEND during the pandemic. You can read the letter here.
 
 
Weekly meetings with East Sussex County Council
 
 
Risk assessment process
Top of our list of priorities at our weekly meetings with senior leaders at ESCC has been asking questions about the risk assessment (RA) process, after we heard concerns from some parent carers that they have not been properly involved, or are unclear about the process itself.

We asked ESCC about the numbers of RAs completed, and what is being done in the cases where schools have not returned RAs, or where those returned require further investigation. We have received an update and have asked if we can share this with you – we’ll let you know as soon as we get an answer.
 
In the meantime, here’s what we did:
 
  • Asked parent carers in our closed Facebook group to tell us about their experiences
  • Produced a factsheet on the risk assessment process which we have posted on social media and which has been sent to all schools in East Sussex. We have also been told it will be posted by ESCC on the schools message board
  • Ran a poll, with Amaze and PaCC, to find out if, and to what extent, parent carers have been involved with risk assessments for their children.
 
 
We also had feedback from SENDIASS calls from two parent carers who had no RA and no discussion.
 
We’ll continue to raise this with ESCC and provide you with feedback.
 
Return to school poll
Following on from the risk assessment poll, we conducted a poll asking if parent carers would like their child to return to school at this time, and if this has been agreed. The poll has now closed and we'll update you on results soon.
 
Encrypted email service
It became clear, after discussion in our closed Facebook group, that the issue of the local authority's secure email system was causing immense frustration to a lot of people. Examples included:
 
  • Emails expire/access is time limited, so there is no history of communication
  • Emails cannot be copied or forwarded to others
  • The system is not readily accessible on different devises (mobile, laptop)
  • System is time-consuming – particularly frustrating when working to EHCP timescales.
     
We have submitted to ESCC a paper highlighting these issues, as well as making recommendations for how improvements can be made and are now waiting for their feedback. We’ll keep you posted on progress.

Other workstreams

Ofsted
We are excited to announce a very tentative step into the world of Facebook live! We will be inviting you to join us to discuss developments since the 2016 Ofsted inspection and asking what could ESCC do to make processes more user friendly and accessible. We hope that a Facebook live session could be a positive and lively forum for this discussion.

Please also keep an eye on both our open and closed Facebook pages, where we'll be asking for your feedback on other themes.

Alongside this, we'll be attending an Ofsted planning meeting with senior managers from education, health and social care at ESCC. We’ll let you know what happens.

i-go
The most valuable part of ESPCF is you – our members. And the more members we have, the louder our voices can be! So we are always exploring ways to reach other parent carers and tell them about the benefits of ESPCF membership. As part of this we are now live on the East Sussex i-go website – you can visit us here.

Strategy and Governance Group meeting
This is a group comprised of key individuals from education, the NHS, and the LA, and has been set up to have oversight of SEND strategy. Following a pause due to lockdown, the next meeting has now been arranged for early July. It is an important avenue for ESPCF to represent parent carers on vital SEND areas and this upcoming meeting is likely to focus on developments during Covid. 
 
 
Face coverings on public transport
One of our members raised the issue of if you or your child/young person is exempt from the rules about wearing a face covering on public transport, how to communicate this. It was also an issue raised with PaCC, and Amaze has now produced an exemption card which can be downloaded on to a mobile phone and shown on public transport.
 
 
National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF)
Our engagement coordinator, Denise, attended the most recent meeting of the South East region of the NNPCF, which is the independent voice representing ALL national parent carer forums, and of which ESPCF is a member. Here are the headlines from the meeting:
  • At a meeting of 19 local authorities, all SEND heads agreed they were working more closely with parent carer forums, with the COVID crisis reminding them how helpful parent carers could be!
  • There was great concern about the continuing resilience of families and a push for the government to coordinate a plan to return short breaks provision back to pre-lockdown levels.
  • Ofsted & CQC are exploring virtual inspections which will concentrate on COVID themes, processes, safeguarding, and data recording. This could potentially pick up on schools that have not been carrying out risk assessments satisfactorily.
  • Work will be starting soon in the SE region towards improving CAMHS and feedback will be requested from parent carer forums. We will be asking for your input when the time arrives.
 
New monthly meetings with ESCC
We are starting a new series of monthly meetings with senior leaders from across education, health and social care at ESCC, with the aim of being able to ask questions, get answers, and make decisions there and then about longer-term, strategic work. These meetings are in addition to our weekly discussions with ISEND (where we flag day-to-day, more immediate issues, for example covid-related concerns).
 
 
Join our closed Facebook group
We are really pleased that a lot of our members have already joined our closed Facebook group, which we set up to enable parent carers to freely discuss their experiences in a safe and supportive place. If you’d like to join, please visit the page (link above) and send us a membership request. We hope to see you there.

Become a member
Becoming an ESPCF member means you decide how much you want to be involved. There is no expectation from us about how much you can or should contribute; to quote a well-known supermarket, every little helps! So if you don’t have much spare time, don’t worry – we greatly appreciate all involvement: big, small, and everything in between. Our membership form is available here and only takes a minute or two to complete.​

Become a parent carer representative
If you would like to be a little more involved and work on specific topics – possibly attend ESCC meetings (with support) – then you might like to consider becoming a representative (the role is remunerated). We understand the time limitations for parent carers so you can offer as little or as much time to the forum as you can spare. If you would like to know more about what the role entails, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us here.
 
 
Contact us
Please keep in touch, if you can spare the time – we are here to represent you. You can call us on 0300 770 1367, email us, or fill in the form on our website.

Thank you for reading to the end! We hope everyone is keeping safe and well.

ESPCF
June 2020
 
 
ESPCF
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0300 770 1367
 
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