'We'll make voices heard' - New group will scrutinise Suffolk SEND provision

Many care providers are picking up their PPE stocks directly from Endeavour House, having expressed

The new SEND group will work with Suffolk County Council - Credit: ARCHANT

A new forum will represent families seeking improvements in special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) services at Suffolk County Council.

Suffolk Parent Carer Network (SPCN) – a voluntary group of parents and families which worked with Suffolk County Council to represent families’ experiences – disbanded in June.

That was because of abuse it was receiving from parents coupled with the slow pace of change in service improvements in the council.

Now, a new parent carer forum has been formed, and due to be fully constituted by January.

Its role is to give feedback of family experiences to the county council to ensure services meet their needs, co-produce work on services, and highlight gaps in provision.

At last week’s meeting of the education scrutiny committee at Suffolk County Council, bosses said lessons had been learned from the dissolution of SPCN.

Allan Cadzow, director of children and young people at the authority, said the previous group took on too much at once and “in hindsight I don’t think we worked closely enough with them”.

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“I think it was a combination of reasons and certainly one of them was that they felt we weren’t making the progress we needed to make.

“After 2016 the number of EHCPs [education health and care plans] has doubled since that time so the pressures work-wise were very very large.”

The new forum launched in October and has been working to recruit parent representatives and committee members.

Toni Wasag, interim chair for the new parent carer forum, said: “We are aware of some of the things that went wrong for the previous parent carer network and we are at the moment working very hard to make sure that we have got a lot of committee members and parent reps so that there isn’t a lot of pressure on a small number of individuals attending meetings.

“We are communicating with parents as much as we possibly can, and it is a really difficult role because parents are very angry and they want to know what is happening, they want to see those results now. We all understand that, but all we can do is work with everyone involved to actually make sure those things happen and everyone’s voices are heard."

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