PLEASE NOTE THAT OUR OFFICE WILL BE CLOSED FROM MIDDAY 21st AUGUST UNTIL WEDNESDAY 28th AUGUST. WE WILL PICK UP ANY EMAILS OR MESSAGES NEXT WEDNESDAY.
COGNUS BOARD UPDATE 5.8.19
We have just received an update from the Cognus Board of Directors regarding the changes in leadership, you can download the letter here
NEWS UPDATE 2.8.2019 - INDEPENDENT EXPERT
On Wednesday 31st July, we were pleased to be invited to meet with Sharon Scott, the Independent Expert who started in Sutton this week. Sharon explained that she has 35 years’ experience and expertise in Children’s Services and Education within the private and public sectors and has most recently worked in Birmingham City Council as Interim Assistant Director for SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities). Sharon reviewed all the services within this area following a poor Local Area Inspection outcome and was the Operational lead on their SEND Improvement Board.
Sharon's most recent roles, prior to Birmingham City Council, were in Hackney Learning Trust and before that Wokingingham Borough Council.
We are meeting with Sharon again this month and are really encouraged that she is so committed to working with the Parent Carer Forum.
We will be arranging an open meeting for parent/carers to meet with Sharon and share their views. These have now been arranged for 10th September 2019
We will continue to update our website with any news.
NEWS UPDATE 23.6.19
We are, of course, aware of the current local concerns that are being discussed in the media with the EHCP campaigning group.
Obviously, we completely agree that the Educational Health Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) process must be legally compliant (s.36(8) Children and Families Act 2014) and that local policy that applies a stricter test is not lawful.
We also completely agree that the Local Authority needs to have a clear and robust process for contract monitoring arrangements with Cognus Ltd., the Local Authority Trading Company commissioned by Sutton Council to deliver education services. There needs to be stricter monitoring of outcomes and key performance indicators to ensure appropriate levels of accountability.
We have now had several meetings with senior council officers to discuss the issues that have been highlighted:
- The Local Authority acknowledged that communication with Cognus needs to improve and have committed to addressing this urgently, in collaboration with the Parent Carer Forum
- The Local Authority appreciates that the EHCNA process can be unnecessarily stressful for families and has committed to working with the Forum and Cognus to ensure that, from now on, there will be a more person centred approach for each case and that the process will be lawfully compliant
- The Local Authority and Health Services have committed to the Forum maintaining its integral role in decision making and planning services through collected information and feedback
However, the Steering Group's experience of trying to work with Cognus leaders suggests we have some way to go in embedding coproduction working as they do not seem to fully appreciate or recognise this role. Until they do so, it makes it difficult for us to have effective input to improving services and processes in this area.
For example, we have not yet had any input to the new Cognus guidance document for the EHCP process.
Who are the Steering Group?
We are all parent/carers of children and young people with disabilities. We are passionate about, and committed to, improving services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in Sutton.
We are run by parents of disabled children for parents of disabled children who live in the London Borough of Sutton. If that describes you, then you don’t have to join, you already belong.
Why a “Forum”?
The dictionary definition of the word “Forum” is “an open meeting place for discussion and the exchange of ideas”. The Sutton Parent Carer Forum is specifically for parents and carers with a disabled child or young person who live in the London Borough of Sutton; if that describes you, then you don't have to join as you already belong. The Sutton Parent Carer Forum was set up nearly 20 years ago and has been supporting, and providing, a recognised and valued voice for families ever since.
What are our aims?
The aim and role of the Forum is to influence services for families through parent and carer participation. We work across all areas of SEND to ensure that the thoughts and concerns of Sutton parents and carers are represented at every level of the Local Areas decision making.
How do we do it?
We do this by arranging events, focus groups and surgeries as well as by conducting surveys and meeting with parents and carers on individual issues. We feedback our findings and recomendations via local council and health sector decision making Boards. We meet with senior council and health sector managers, who value and need our input. They recognise that the feedback we provide helps services across education, social care and health respond in a meaningful way to the needs of families.
How can you help?
As much or as little as you want!
Most of all, we’d love your views, opinions and feedback, both good and bad, of your experiences of bringing up children and young people with SEND in the Sutton. This will help us to improve services for all our families and ensure that they are at the heart of the Council's planning and provision moving forwards.