Minister Vicky Ford and Minister Whately attend SEND Joint Ministerial roundtable

Today key stakeholders of the SEND sector attended the SEND Joint Ministerial Roundtable to give evidence and share views on how children, young people and families and the organisations that work with them have operated during the pandemic. Both Ministers listened to some challenging evidence and also heard stakeholders raise a wide range of issues

Minister Ford and Minister Whately heard about the challenges of the return to schools and colleges from a parent perspective and from the perspectives of educational settings, who talked about the issues around published guidance on the return to education, transport to school and guidance around PPE. Other issues raised around education were about positively supporting and understanding behaviour for children and young people with SEND, preventing off-rolling, and needing a whole system approach.

The roundtable also gave stakeholders the opportunity to share innovations and developments in practice, particularly around joint working and commissioning at a local authority level. It was noted that improved data and information sharing is leading to better understanding of the needs of local children and young people, patterns of service use, and gaps and pressure points.

Other practice innovations developed during the pandemic were shared, particularly around short breaks and community-based family support. The pandemic has caused significant challenges for families in some areas but this has led to creative and flexible practice enabling families to access support quickly and in a way that meets needs and keeps children and young people safe. You can read more examples of this practice here.

Minister Ford closed the session by restating her commitment to fighting for vulnerable children to be considered in all areas of policy. She remains committed to the SEND Review.

Dame Christine Lenehan, Director, Council For Disabled Children said:

I was really pleased the sector had the opportunity to meet with ministers from DFE and DHSC today. Ministers heard the challenges, both short term around return to education and the longer-term issues of a system under pressure. We look forward to a continuing dialogue as we move towards the SEND Review.

The Minister requested that her open letter addressing some of the key issues on the return to education continues to be shared with children and young people with SEND, their families and carers, and those who support them. Click here to read it