Education focus group

Bristol Parent Carers holds meetings with parent carers and staff from Bristol City Council and NHS Bristol Trust, because they have asked us to help them improve the education services provided for disabled children as part of their Special Educational Needs (SEN) Strategy. If you want to participate in any of the opportunities listed below - watch our calendar or email us.

Progress and Achievements 2016-2017

An Overview

Following years of consultation with national organisations, disability groups and those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), the Government has decided to make changes to current systems.

The Government's Vision is:

  1. Children, young people and adults with SEND will be identified early and supported quickly – this will happen through pdfEarly Support and Keyworking.
  2. Staff should have the knowledge, understanding and skills required to provide the right support for children and young people with SEND – this will happen through pdfIntegrated Services and Multi-Agency working.
  3. Parents know what their local school, college, local authorities and local services will provide without having to fight for it, and have the right to request assessment – this will happen through pdfThe Local Offer.
  4. Aspirations for children and young people are raised through an increased focus on life outcomes, including employment – this will happen through pdfPersonalisation and Preparing for Adulthood.
  5. For more complex needs, an integrated assessment and Education, Health and Care Plan will be in place from birth to age 25 – this will happen through pdfEHC plans.
  6. Greater control for parent carers and young people over the services they use – this will happen through pdfParticipation.
  7. Children and families can access a personal budget – this will happen through pdfPersonal Budgets.

In Bristol

Bristol Parent Carers' reps joined senior Council and NHS staff to visit other local authority areas who are piloting these changes (known as Pathfinders) to understand the choices they made. From these visits, and through many discussions, workshops, and modelling it has been possible to pick the elements that we preferred for this city and 'Bristolise' the Reforms.

For more details on these reforms, how they are being implemented in Bristol, and how parent carers continue to be involved – please download the relevant PDFs above.

Here is some information on SEN Support & Education, Health and Care Plans


For any materials, click on our Downloadable Resources page.

To get involved in any of these activities, and share your skills with us, click on our Contact Us page.

Education, Education, Education!

Latest News - results from your participation

You always have questions and concerns about Education. So our parent carer reps have been working on your behalf with staff from many agencies to try to improve things. Here's an update showing you the positive results of participation. So curl up on the sofa with your favourite tipple (mine's tea and chocolate!), and read all about it.

Thanks and best wishes,
Caroline Temple-Bird, Chair, Bristol Parent Carers

Issue: So many changes in education that nurseries/schools/colleges and parents are struggling to know what to do
Result:  New "Bristol Toolkit - SEND in Education" 
Click here: To discover all about it

Since the SEND Reforms arrived in September 2014, there have been lots of changes in education such as - SEN Support, Education Health and Care Plans, and conversions from Statements & Learning Difficulties Assessments. You told us that you and the staff at your child/young person's school have been struggling with the new processes and paperwork.

So, parent carer reps from Bristol Parent Carers have been working with Bristol City Council and other support agencies (Supportive Parents, and KIDS) to produce a clear description of what should happen and templates of the paperwork to use. At last the "Bristol Toolkit - SEND in Education" is ready! It is available on the Findability website (see link above) and is in 3 parts depending on what sort of support your child/young person might be getting at nursery/school/college:-

  • special educational needs support 
  • Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
  • after an EHCP.

The Toolkit is interactive - you click on different parts of your child's journey to discover what will happen, who has to do what, and the documents to use. Please use it - it's a great resource to clarify how to get support for your child/young person! 

Issue: You struggle to know what to say / how to prepare for assessment and review meetings at school
Result:  Improved parental and child/young person contribution forms 
Click to download:
New parent carer form for EHC needs assessments
New parent carer form for Annual Reviews 
New child/young person contribution form

It was time for a change, because:-

  • many of us were finding the old 'parental contribution' forms difficult to fill in and the questions daunting 
  • the EHC Plan paperwork has a new layout and sections we're not used to, so it's difficult to see how our contribution will fit into this
  • annual reviews are now all about the progress our child/young person has made towards their outcomes, so we need to be preparing our thoughts before the meeting. 

So reps from Bristol Parent Carers, Supportive Parents, and KIDS met with the Council's SEN Team and we've come up with new forms (see links above) that - explain what each section is about, give guidance on what to put in each section, and provide hints on what to consider before you attend the meeting.

These forms will be part of the Bristol Toolkit shortly. So print them out and use them. Your child's school may use a different template, but if you like these - use them instead and encourage the school to too!

Issue: Lots of parent carers are confused about the timetable for all these changes, and how long they'll take
Result:  Read a Progress Update below  
Click here if you need any independent help:
Supportive Parents is your SEND Information, Advice and Support Service
KIDS provides Independent Supporters

All local authorities have from Sept 2014 until March 2018 to introduce the new EHCP process and convert existing Learning Difficulties Assessments (LDAs) and Statements to EHC Plans. Reps from Bristol Parent Carers, Supportive Parents, and KIDS meet with the Council's SEN Team 3 times a year to catch up with progress, raise the concerns you have been telling us about, and hear about issues the Council are facing (such as staff vacancies, quality of information sent in from schools). 

The latest update is:-

  • Most children/young people in the process of getting a new EHC Plan should now get one within the required 20-week period (96%)
  • All the eligible Learning Difficulties Assessments have been converted to EHC Plans - the SEN Team concentrated first on young people leaving school and going to college
  • Conversions from Statements to EHC Plans are happening according to a timetable - see here. The SEN Team have been concentrating on children moving between Key Stages. So if your child hasn't started a conversion yet, it could be because this doesn't apply to them - check the timetable to see when their school should start the process. The conversion meeting will be in place of their Annual review. 
  • The SEN Team recognises that there is a delay in completing some conversions, so they are re-directing staff to concentrate on children who are changing schools. If your child is in an all-through school (the primary and secondary parts are under one school organisation), they can wait a bit longer.  
  • It is recognised that the quality of the wording in some conversion documents is poor. So quarterly, the SEN Team has been running 'moderation' exercises with staff from education, health and care and parent carers, to learn the lessons and improve the forms and guidance given. The quality now is better than 2 years ago.
  • It is recognised that some schools need help with conversions - mainstream schools may only have a small number of conversions, but a special school has to do a conversion for every single pupil. The SEN Team has been training school staff, providing them with briefings and guidance. That's why the new "Bristol Toolkit - SEND in Education" (see above)is so important - make sure you child's school knows about it.

Issue: You want specialist educational provision near to where you live
Result:  Read a Progress Update below  

Every year we work with Education commissioners who manage the Council's Education Capital Plan, that states how specialist educational provision is going to change for the better - Where should new provision be created? How can existing provision be improved? When are improvements to the buildings / space required? When are improvements to teaching methods / procedures needed? 

Each year BPC runs a participation workshop for you to express your views to these commissioners, and as a result they are always changing specialist educational provision. To hear about the latest changes, you can do the following:-

  • look at this BCC's You Said, We Did document from November 2015 on changes and plans for all ages 
  • look out for my next Progress Update email on the Preparing for Adulthood work in 2016 - as a result of the Nov '15 workshops there have been a lot of changes for post-16s and post-19s
  • look out out for my email about our next Annual Participation Event on 13th June - come and take part in a Provision Planning workshop and hear about the latest proposals for all ages. Put the date in your diaries! 

Last, but not Least! 
Don't forget to look at our website pages on Education - there you'll find the resources we developed just for you:-

  • "Parent Carer Guide on SEND" - watch out for an updated 2017 version coming soon
  • "Things to think about before going to a planning or review meeting"


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