Archive for “July, 2015”

Pembrokeshire County Council terminates Independent Service for families of children with SEN

Independent information and advice services for residents of Pembrokeshire have been under threat for the last few years following changes within the Special Educational Needs Department. From the end of July parents who have concerns about their child’s special educational needs or disabilities will no longer be able to access front line services from SNAP Cymru.

Denise Inger Chief Executive Director for SNAP Cymru said ‘We are very disappointed with PCC’s decision to terminate a much valued service with proven expertise and quality standards. Nichola Jones Head of Inclusion has decided to make changes and offer support to parents and young people ‘in house’. We are naturally concerned and disappointed with this decision. It has been our pleasure and privilege to successfully work with the children and families in Pembrokeshire for many years. We know that our service has been valued by families and professionals.

We are concerned and see this as a retrograde step removing at a stroke the opportunity for parents and young people to actively challenge planning and decisions made which directly affect them. In the past parents have reported that local authority staff have provided incorrect information of the status of their entitlements and the range of provisions to explore in order that they can make informed decisions. It is of particular concern that PCC have taken this decision at a time when a whole raft of legislative changes are emerging. We know that families will be disappointed because earlier this year Nichola Jones, Head of Inclusion, stated publicly, when challenged by parents, that SNAP Cymru services were not about to be cut.

Local Authorities across Wales use third sector providers to deliver independent services. SNAP Cymru have developed services for parents, carers and young people, gaining expertise within the education and disability field for over thirty years. When families are worried or things go wrong we work with families and professionals to seek solutions with professionals to meet children’s needs at the earliest possible time.

In 2014 there were 344 pupils in receipt of a statement out of over 5,000 children with special educational needs in Pembrokeshire. Last year SNAP Cymru supported 243 families in Pembrokeshire with over 500 concerns, 200 of these related to Statementing and statutory assessment process.

Parents can still access the SNAP Cymru Helpline and our bilingual website to gain accurate, neutral advice about special educational needs or disability but until we can secure alternative funding we cannot provide a local Independent Parental Supporter service. This is just one of the legal entitlements which are seemingly absent from Pembrokeshire County Council’s immediate plans.

There has been little clarity of how PCC will meet their statutory obligations from August 1st for parents and young people in relation to SEN and Disability.  We are waiting for further information from PCC to inform families.

‘Draft’ Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill to be published before the summer

Huw Lewis Minister for Education has announced his intentions to publish a Draft rather than a formal Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill before the summer and further consultation activity will continue until December 2015.

This will allow families to comment on and respond to the detailed legislative proposals in a much more meaningful way before they are introduced to the formal Assembly scrutiny process. The legislation itself will now not be introduced to the Assembly until after next May’s election – early in the next Assembly.

A ‘Draft Bill’ is not formally laid and does not formally trigger any work or scrutiny by a particular Committee (whereas a Bill is remitted to a designated Committee who have to report on it by a certain date).  A Draft bill is a proposed bill and is usually accompanied by an extensive briefing paper explaining the rationale behind the bill. A Draft Bill is in effect like any other Welsh Government consultation document, only a more concrete plan of what is being proposed. However, rather than being introduced directly in the Assembly, a draft bill is usually published to enable additional consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny. This allows proposed changes to be made before the Bill’s formal introduction. By doing so, the Government may hope that this will make it easier for the bill to be adopted. The draft bill is a further step between a White Paper and the actual legislation.

An early draft of a new ALN Code of Practice and an outline of the Welsh Governments plans for implementation will also be published in the autumn term.

Comment and feedback on these documents will be welcomed by the WG until December 2015.

The Minister has agreed to consider the drafts in light of feedback and work cross party to gain the necessary support to ensure that the Bill is bought forward for formal scrutiny early in the new Assembly Term.

SNAP Cymru will continue to work with the Welsh Government and have agreed to hold several consultations with children and families across Wales in the Autumn term.

see > ALN announcement by Huw Lewis Minister for education

The National Assembly for Wales Research Service has also recently produced an  overview of the current legal framework for Special Educational Needs (SEN) in Wales ahead of anticipated draft legislation in summer 2015.

Current provisions and processes are explained, along with the journey of review and reform that has taken place throughout much of the post-devolution era. Statistics on the numbers of learners, levels of expenditure and relative academic performance of pupils with SEN are also included. Special Educational Needs (SEN)/Additional Learning Needs (ALN) in Wales – Research Paper New Publication: Special Educational Needs (SEN)/Additional Learning Needs (ALN) in Wales – Research Paper. 05 June 2015, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

English Welsh

Transition from one system to another has the potential to cause anxiety for those families who are directly involved, consequently SNAP Cymru is continuing to share information on the proposals with families and professionals across Wales. For further information please contact training@snapcymru.org