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Ask the Experts

Monday 10th July 2017

This was a fantastic event where there was a panel of Senior Local Authority Officers from Education, Health and Social Care available to answer questions from parents and carers.

Please see the full article for the answers to questions asked on the day




1. Following CAMHS involvement are there courses for children/therapy for children? How do they access this?


CAMHS do run parent education sessions for some areas of difficulty. Therapy is available if a clinician recommends it.

It would need a CAMHS clinician to answer if there was anything suitable for a specific individual.

CAMHS have a new website and have made significant service improvements. Have a look at their website and then call if you need more specific information.

2. My child has a SEN that requires being accompanied to school and previously received transport. He has been turned down for being less than 3 miles, what is the policy for this?


School transport is not included as an entitlement within SEN Legislation. This means that it does not form part of a child’s SEN assessment and is not included as an educational need or provision within a child’s Education, Heath and Care plan.
The Council’s Travel Assistance policy can be found at: The policy explains that travel assistance will be provided for all children of statutory school age who attend their nearest suitable school and it is more than 2 miles away from home (primary) or 3 miles from home (secondary). The policy then explains that children with SEN may qualify irrespective of the distance, because they cannot walk to school accompanied by an adult. If you believe that this applies to your child, you must explain the reasons when submitting your travel application. You also have a right of appeal against a decision not to provide assistance. This is easy to access, you can simply send an email to the transport team, setting out the reasons you wish to appeal. The policy also allows a decision to be made that takes into account exceptional circumstances. If you are finding it exceptionally difficult to secure your child’s attendance because of your personal circumstances, this will be taken into account. However, work commitments are not included

3. School agree my child may have a diagnosis and put a referral to camhs 2 years ago, the school say they cannot give additional support without a diagnosis, is this right?


No I don’t believe this is right.
Firstly I would ask mum to call CAMHS directly to check the status of the referral. Mum could also contact her school nurse if she hasn’t already for some lower level support. CAMHS have a new website which is interactive for young people so this may also be an option.

Sometimes diagnoses take a long time to make or there simply isn’t a specific diagnosis. Therefore we would work with schools to address whatever the challenges are rather than the diagnosis.

4. Why do parents feel they have to fight for education, health and social care services?


Health response: It is difficult to address this without knowing the specifics around a particular child. I believe it is fair to say that many parents don’t feel this way but are probably less likely to speak up if everything is going ok. Having said that, I do acknowledge that there are often shortages in all areas which make it harder for families to get all the services they need at the right time. Most health services have very strict criteria regarding who they can and can’t accept – this is because a limited resource needs to go to those who need it the most.
Education response: it is recognised that the journey through the ‘graduated process’ can take several months to travel. The SEN Code of Practice sets out very clearly what schools are expected to do. Typically, this demands that schools support a child at school support for at least two terms, before a child is referred for a statutory assessment. If a referral is received and agreed, the process of assessment which may result in an Education, Health and Care Plan then takes a further 20 weeks to complete. Parents will obviously measure their personal journey from the point they became concerned about their child’s education through to feeling that their child is receiving the right provision and support. To reduce the sense of having to ‘fight’, it is important that together we create a system that truly includes the parent’ voice underpinned by clear and accessible information and advice.

5. Why do children and their families need to reach crisis (eg behaviour and suicidal thoughts) before any professional will listen? HEALTH/SOCIAL CARE

With regards to health, there are services that would support a young person before they get to a crisis. When a child does reach a crisis then they would access different level of service. The new CAMHS website has more information on this.

It is with regret that this is the view that is shared, however it is a very important and crucial question to ask. It is hoped that preventative and supportive interventions are provided to children and families so that such crisis situations do not occur. If they do, we should be forward planning and enabling families to cope.

6. How can we ensure children with a SEN action plan are receiving the support they need on a daily basis?


Coventry has introduced a ‘My Plan’ process to support schools in meeting their responsibilities to provide SEN support. However, this plan is not a statutory document, which means schools cannot be compelled to implement it, although most do.
The key question should therefore be how can we ensure schools are making appropriate provision for pupils identified as requiring SEN support and whose responsibility is it?
School Governors have a duty to ensure that the needs of all pupils including those with special educational needs are met. OfSTED will always include children with SEN as part of a school’s inspection, making them accountable.
If as a parent, you feel that the school is not meeting your child’s needs you should begin by discussing your concerns with your child’s class teacher or the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) as appropriate. The SEN Disability Information and Advice Service (SENDIAS) can offer independent advice and support. Further information on Coventry SENDIAS is available at: as part of the Local Offer

7. When safeguarding is raised is there a timescale in which it should be dealt with by social services?


Safeguarding referrals should be considered as urgent, and responded to not longer than within one working day.

8. Told there is a shortage of OT equipment, however parents are waiting for equipment to be collected, what can be done and who do we contact?


This is difficult to answer without knowing what type of equipment it refers to. I am assuming it is a larger item. The OT is responsible for assessing and ordering equipment and ensuring it meets needs. The integrated community equipment store has the job of delivering and collecting equipment and cleaning and maintaining it. All equipment should be provided with information about what to do it if breaks etc. and there should be a telephone number for stores included. There is also information on the LA’s website about what to do if you no longer want a piece of equipment. There isn’t a shortage of equipment as such, we are just very careful with the budget so we can use it to the maximum. This would include recycling.
Equipment Store
Tel: 024 7678 5353
Bishopsgate Business Park
15-16 Widdrington Road

9. If a young person is not in education or training who then takes the lead in their day to day activities?


This will depend upon the particular circumstances of each young person and their age. All young people who complete their statutory education are supported by Prospects. Prospects is Council’s commissioned careers service. If a young person is not in education, employment or training ‘NEET’ and they are able to make academic progress, access training or enter employment, Prospects will assist them in securing provision.

For those young people with complex and severe learning difficulties and or disabilities who cannot access further education, employment or training the learning disability social care tram would provide an assessment. Further details are available at:

It is the responsibility of both education and social care (when a child or young person is open to social care) to support the child and family to agree what support will be provided.

10. Where is the personal budget policy, this is essential for parents that want to apply for a budget and need to know what they can use it for and how to apply?


Social care personal budget information can be found at:

The Education Personal Budget Policy has now been completed and will be available on the Local Offer by 30th November 2017

11. Why offer and speech and language assessment and then offer no professionally led therapy?


We regularly offer a SLT program which has been devised by a qualified SLT but is delivered either by school /home/SLT assistant (or a combination). This is because SLT strategies need to be worked on throughout a child’s day and all people working with that child need to be involved. This is when SLT is most effective. A qualified SLT would provide direct intervention with a child if there is a very specialist requirement than only a qualified SLT is skilled to deliver. We are contracted to provide intervention to those with the highest needs so there are occasions where an assessment identifies a need, but it does not meet the access criteria for the service. In these cases we would still provide advice and programs.

12. Why are my school only recording issues at home and not what is happening in school, therefore no paper trail?


If a parent has concerns that a school is not keeping an appropriate record of their child’s needs, progress or support requirements, they should arrange to discuss the matter directly with the school concerned.

If a parent needs support in having that conversation, they can contact SENDIAS for advice, information and support:

13. What is the process for school choice appeals, where the first choice has been declined and the appeal fails, what next?


Full details on the school admissions appeal process is available at:

14. Where a child is subject to a special guardianship order in Coventry, but originated in another county, even though regulations include a duty on the local authority to provide support including a nominated social worker, a care and support plan and continuing monitoring, how can the local authority refuse to provide this support?


Social care should not refuse to provide any support, though the circumstances need to be considered.

The Special Guardianship assessment will identify support needs and a clear support plan should be drafted at that point, which is approved within Court. The support plan will identify where the support will come from, and who is responsible for this.

15. How can a child really be at the centre of focus when after several months wait when the mother and child attended the appointment at CAMHS, the clinician refused to consider the case issues simply because the father was unable to attend?


I do remember talking to a mum about this on the day. I am not able to explain the exact reasoning for a CAMHS clinician’s decisions on the day – this would be a conversation to have with the clinician. If mum is either not happy or not clear about a decision I would suggest she phones the clinician directly first.

16. Why does Coventry local authority not provide summer holiday activities for children with ASD to enable parents to have dedicated time with siblings who do not have SEND- Short Breaks does not meet need? SOCIAL CARE

Coventry provide a programme of short breaks activities for all children/young people with disabilities. The volume of activities increases in the summer. It is recognised that parents do need support in these circumstances, and each child is considered individually when exploring what support / respite is needed.

17. How does a parent make an application for an EHCP and what evidence is needed with application?


The law makes it clear that a parent can ask the LA to conduct a statutory assessment of their child, by simply writing a letter to that effect. The LA then needs to decide if an assessment is necessary or not. If the LA decides it would not be appropriate to conduct an assessment (refusal to assess), it must write to the parent explaining why, within 29 days of receiving the request. .Parents have a right to formally appeal against this decision to the SEN and Disability Tribunal should they disagree.

In arriving at a decision, the LA will always contact the school and ask for evidence of the child’s needs, what support has been offered and for how long. The LA will also need to understand if the support has been effective and if any other agencies or professionals, have been involved, e.g. an Educational Psychologist or specialist teacher. It is therefore advisable to work with your school where possible before deciding to submit a request for assessment. Further details on the process can be found at: as part of the Local Offer

18. Why don’t all schools participate in school counselling service-or why isn’t this mandatory?


School counselling is not provided from the NHS/health – we can only deliver what we have a contract to deliver (this is how we are funded).

Many schools in Coventry choose to offer a ‘counselling service’ where appropriate. However, any provision that they make has to be paid from the school budget. Consequently, school funding decisions are part of the school budget setting process and will reflect the priorities of the particular school priorities as determined by the Headteacher and Governors.

19. Can we have a wider transition programme, more information for parents, available to all SEND, letter sent with school offer etc?


Most schools support a smooth transition between primary and secondary phase for young people with SEN. However, practice is not uniform across all settings. It would be helpful if a group of parents volunteered to share their experiences and ideas, with representative school staff (SENCOs), to identify best practice guidance to be shared with all schools. If agreed the LA would nominate a specialist Team Leader to coordinate this.

20. Pupil SEND money- do you monitor what money is spent on as sometimes money runs out?


The additional money ‘pupil led funding’ provided to schools, is intended to enable schools to deliver the provision specified in a child’s Education, Health and Care plan. It is not intended to be the only source of funding for a child, so cannot ‘run out’. If a parent finds themselves in a position whereby a school ceases to deliver the provision specified in a plan because they cannot afford it, parents are advised to contact their EHCP Coordinator who will discuss the matter directly with the school

21. If you are not granted an ehcp, where do parents stand on provision needed can it be enforced?

Please see response to question 6, which explains a schools responsibility to identify children with SEN and make arrangements under ‘school support’ responsibilities as set out in the SEND Code of Practice;

22. Why do children with severe dyslexia not receive extra support for as long as they need it?


There is no policy to withdraw support from a child with dyslexia if support is needed. However, unless a child has an EHCP the decision to determine an appropriate school support programme rests with the individual school.

23. What are the post 16 options available?


There are a range of post 16 options available including further education, supported internships, apprenticeship, training and employment depending up on the individual needs, hopes and aspirations of the young person. Further information on the various routes can be found at:
as part of the Local Offer. However, Prospects is the key support agency to guide young people through the transition journey.

24. Is it worth applying for an EHCP if my child is home educated?

An EHCP is a legal document that sets out a child’s special educational needs and the provision required to meet those needs. The plan then states the school that has been suitable to deliver the provision. If a parent chooses to electively home educate a child with an EHCP, or an EHCP is finalised whilst a child is EHE; the LA would need to satisfy itself that the provision specified was being delivered through the arrangements made by the parent and monitor a child’s progress though the annual review process. The LA would not ordinarily fund the provision. It would therefore fall to an individual parent to decide if they felt that there was an advantage in their child having an EHCP, dependent upon the personal circumstance. I

25. Why do Coventry not support play therapy as Warwickshire advised this for my child but Coventry don’t support or fund this?


The health organisation in Coventry can only provide the services it is contracted to provide by the Clinical Commissioning Group (the purse holders). We don’t have a contract for play therapy and therefore don’t have a budget to pay staff to deliver this service. Play is looked at by a range of professionals including health visitors and occupational therapists. Often they would recommend specific play activities that help with development or to address specific needs. If your child is open to a HV or school nurse would speak to them in the first place.

26. Too many plans are being issued and often overlap ie route 21, Education my plan, person centred plan, social care plan, support plan etc, fewer plana and more action is needed. This should not be a tick box. Why is this happening?


Many of the plans listed have a statutory identity in their own right, so cannot easily be ‘merged’. However, Coventry is currently examining how the EHCP can become a transition plan into adult services and beyond as part of the review of the transition pathway.

It is agreed that families and children do have many plans / paper work provided to them. There is consideration being given to this in terms of aligning them so there is one document driving the plan. However, health, social care and education have legal frameworks that require specific plans to be completed, which means there will be a number of plans being completed.

27. Why do Local authorities have blanket polices not specific to individual needs?


It is illegal to have ‘blanket policies’ in relation to SEN legislation. The law is clear that the process has to be personalised. Any parent that believes a blanket policy is in place, should alert the SEN Team.

28. Why do social care not take seriously reports/ concerns of safeguarding, this needs investigating.


All reports of concern are taken seriously and will always be responded to as urgent where a child is deemed to be at risk of harm. If this is not the experience of social care’s response, it is absolutely necessary to be looked in to and resolved.

29. Where a CAF is not appropriate and the level of need is greater why is there no professional overseeing education health and care, this is being left to the parent, they should also have a lead professional. SOCIAL CARE

Should concerns be greater than level 2 or 3 CAF, then necessary referrals should be made to social care. Social care will be responsible for considering all aspects of the child’s development and family needs to ensure the right level of support is provided.

30. Why do you leave it too late to intervene and parents at breaking point – where is the support?


Health: No family is ever intentionally left until breaking point. I can understand how it may feel like this or how this has been some people’s experience. I would need to talk to the family to understand how to best address any specific health concerns. There is a significant pressure on services nationally which means we have to prioritise the children who show the most significant difficulties.

It is important that if a parent feels that they are at ‘breaking point’ in terms of their child’s education or social care support that they ask for help from their EHCP Coordinator, who will try to access and coordinate the multi-agency system on the families behalf.

31. Why is there not enough support in school while waiting for an EHCP or asd waiting list?


Please see responses to questions 6, 12 and 21.
Schools have to make adequate provision for children with SEN when setting the school budget. However, this is within the context of balancing many priorities within a fixed budget. The vast majority of schools within Coventry invest in specialist support services within schools. However, it is not always possible for a school to fund intensive support for an individual pupil for an extended period of time. If a parent has a particular concern, they are advised to discuss it directly with their child’s school.

32. Can I request an ASD specific school if my child has an EHCP?


If a child already has an EHCP a school will have been named. If a parent feels that the school is not adequately meeting their child’s needs, they can request an early annual review of the EHCP. An annual review meeting should review the child’s needs, progress and effectiveness of provision and make any recommendations for change. The LA will then decide if the EHCP should be amended and inform the parent of that decision. If the A decides not to amend the plan, then parents have a right of appeal. If the LA does amend the plan, it will send the parents a draft amended EHCP. At that point a parent can request a change in the named school, which will be considered. If the LA does not agree to name a school of parental preference, parents will have a right of appeal.

33. How can schools get away with sending my child home and excluding them because they can’t meet need?


Schools cannot legally send a child home, or implement a part-time table without parental consent. If a child is sent home or offered a reduced timetable, the reasons for this e.g. anxiety or illness should be made clear and agreed by all. The transition programme back into school should also be very clear and aim to return the child to full-time attendance very quickly. If a parent disagrees with a school’s suggestion that the child should go home or only attend part-time, they should refuse to agree and seek support from SENDIAS.

If a school excludes a child, they must follow the statutory exclusions guidance. If a fixed term or informal exclusion is because of a child’s SEN, a parent may determine that the exclusion represents disability discrimination and lodge a disability discrimination claim with the SEN and Disability Tribunal. If a child with SEN is permanently excluded from school a parent may appeal to an independent appeals panel.

34. My child requires regular medication and a care plan at school, but school and covering staff do not always give medication, what can I do? HEALTH

Medication and a health care plan at school need to be supported by a school nurse. The link below is for the government’s document on how schools should support with medication. If a child has an EHCP then it should include the fact that medication is required at school and who should administer it.–3


35. What is the criteria to access services to gain support?


All health services have different criteria depending on the difficulty presenting. Criteria for health services is on the local offer and also often on their own websites. A family can always call the team to ask about criteria if they feel that would be helpful.

The SEND Local Offer is designed to set out the criteria for access to all SEN education, health nd care services. If you are unable to find the information you require, please complete the feedback link and we will correct it

36. Why am I being told to see school nurse if previously been involved with speech and language and occupational therapy but been discharged?


I can’t answer this without knowing the detail about what the child was asked to see the school nurse about. Family are welcome to call and talk to me. The school nursing service offers a wide range of support so it may be that they are the right person to talk to first. Both SLT and OT accept referrals directly from a parent so families shouldn’t feel they have to go through one service just to gain a referral to another.

37. How can I ensure my child’s difficulties are fully understood by a new teacher or covering staff?


There are many ways to ensure key staff within school are informed about your child’s needs. A simple way of doing this is to set out (ideally on one sheet of A4) – ‘All about me’ Start with quick overview of your child’s difficulties and strengths and then list what your child likes/dislikes, do’s and don’ts. You can then discuss this with the school’s SENCO, who may want to discuss the content with you and ask that it is shared with all staff that come into contact with your child

38. Is there a conflict between authorities, we live in Coventry , our child is in a Warwickshire school, no one knows where to go for support, needs are not being met and the school cannot cope with him.


Responsibility for organising the support your child needs, rests with the school your child attends.
If a child does not have an EHCP, where you live should not make any difference. The school receive funding for all children attending their school.
If it is decided that your child needs a statutory assessment, it5 becomes more complicated. The LA in which you live, is responsible for conducting the assessment,, completing the EHCP and funding any additional provision or support irrespective of which school your child attends.

This means that your child should receive exactly the same service and support from the Warwickshire school that all other children receive. However, if your child is referred for a statutory assessment, the school would send the referral to Coventry. If you need specific advice on your personal situation, please call SENDIAS 024 7669 4307. Further information is available at:

The responsibility should lie with the Authority the child resides in.