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Ask the Experts

Monday 19th March 2018

Our Ask the Experts event was a huge success.  There were senior officers from Education, Health and Social Care available to answer questions from parents.

The event was such a success that time ran out.  Please read the full article for questions that were unanswered on the day.


1.      Who can help me with illegal exclusions? When there is nothing written down but the school have clearly excluded my child, why exclude instead of trying to help?


The LA has issued guidance on part-time/reduced timetables to schools.  The guidance is available on Coventry’s Local Offer website or via SENDIAS (SEN Disability Information and Advice Service).  The guidance makes clear that schools must not reduce a child’s access to school, unless the circumstances are exceptional, parents have formally agreed, there is a plan in place to secure full-time attendance as quickly as possible and that the plan and grounds for decision are submitted to the LA.  If this has not happened parents are advised to remind schools of their statutory responsibility and seek support from the LA

2.   Why is there a 2 year plus waiting list for CAMHS?


Demand for CAMHS services has risen significantly over the last two years challenging service capacity.  In response, the CAMHS service has been redesigned and the CCG has invested more money to increase capacity and reduce waiting lists. However, recruitment has been problematic because there is a national shortage of suitably qualified practitioners to fill the vacant posts.  In Coventry the redesign includes Dimensions, which is an App based screening/self-assessment tool, that signposts users to the most appropriate form of help.

3.   What can we do if our child’s EHCP needs are not being met?


Firstly speak to your school, if that does not resolve the issue speak to your allocated EHC Plan Coordinator who will intervene.  Ultimately if you do not believe that your child’s plan is being implemented and the school and LA have not resolved matters you can instigate a formal complaint with the LA.

4.   Can we have timeframes for involvement for when any public consultations will take place?


Public bodies have a statutory duty to consult if a decision will have a consequence for the community, The expected consultation period for educational issues is usually 6 school weeks, but might extend to 12 weeks in complex circumstances.

5.   Can we get funding for a specialist school out of Coventry as there are no spaces here?


The process for securing a specialist school placement for a child with an EH Plan is set out in the SEN Code of Practice.  When a draft plan is issued parents can make representations for a specialist school outside of Coventry.  In making a decision, the LA has to take into account whether the parents preferred school can meet need and represents an efficient and effective use of public funds. If there is a nearer school that can meet need at a similar cost, the LA would be likely to agree the placement but would not provide transport assistance.  If the parents preferred school was significantly more expensive than a more local school that could meet need, the LA would be unlikely to agree the placement.  In this circumstance the parent would have a right of appeal to the SEN and Disability Tribunal.

6.   Time frames for assessment processes, service level agreements and consistency of service, how is this managed?


The SEN assessment process is set out in law.  The whole process from referral to finalisation of an EHC Plan should take no more than 20 weeks.  This process may include a social work and various health assessments. Which should take no longer than 6 weeks.

The statutory assessment timescale for Child and Family assessments, completed by Social Workers and Early Help assessments is a maximum of 45 days.

Assessment timescales are not ordinarily reinforced through service level agreements, because they are statutory.

7.   How can communication be improved and we kept informed about time frames between services?


Any child who has a plan whether that be in Early Help or protection should have their plan reviewed regularly. The Council and partners have published procedures in place for this as well as Guidance (Right Help Right Time) please refer to the Local Offer, LSCB and Coventry City Council Children’s procedures for service details and performance standards.

8.   What is the new service model for the speech and language service, can we have information and access to how we engage with this new model?


Details of Coventry’s speech and language therapy service can be found at:

9.   Can services provide a pathway route map so parents can see what pathways and actions are available and how to chase up and/or enquire?


This is a good idea, which we will take on  board as part of the review of the Local Offer

10. Why are children not given a follow up after diagnosis, they are just forgotten about.


Post diagnostic processes vary according to the need.  The ASD pathway has been redesigned to signpost families to post diagnostic support as a consequence of the feedback we have received from parents, which we hope will improve things.

11. Can social care help with CAMHS/impact on the queue position?


Unfortunately not but, we have Family hubs who can provide support and guidance to help families whilst they are waiting for support.

12. How will Occupational therapy ensure they will provide reports for EHCP assessments when the waiting list is over a year?


The LA is working with heath to consider the capacity issues currently experienced by OT as a consequence of increased service demand.

13. What is the provision for a joint placement? How is this assessed, on what basis can it be refused, what must be shown to justify a joint placement?


We have a stage 3 panel and there is a procedure to follow and this includes an escalation process. This is available in the Children’s services procedures.  The City also maintain a continuing care panel that considers joint funded placements.  Placements are assessed on a statutory needs basis and are only refused if it is felt that needs can be met effectively by a different provision.

14. Is it a reasonable time frame to wait 2 years for an Occupational therapy assessment?


Please see response to question 12.

15. Why is the Autism Assessment pathway so long?


The new ASD assessment pathway is designed to triage children and signpost young people who are unlikely to have an ASC through an alternative pathway of intervention, thereby enabling the assessment team to focus on the most appropriate referrals.

16. Are private diagnosis recognised in Coventry?


Private diagnoses conducted by appropriately qualified and experienced professionals are recognised in Coventry providing there is evidence of efficacy in practice and professional guidelines have been followed. The LA assessment considers the impact of the disability on the child and family and not necessarily the label in itself.

17. How do you measure service user experience to your service? It’s heavily weighted to medical referral, why cannot parents refer?


There are many different services across education, health and care that provide services to children and their families.  Each service has its own feedback, monitoring and quality assurance methodology.  Education and social care practice a social impact model of need rather than a medical model.  Parents can make a direct request for an SEN assessment.

18. Can a family access help and support from Warwickshire for school and home when they live in Coventry but the school is in Warwickshire?


It depends, if the child has an EHCP then the LA in which you reside is regarded as the funding authority irrespective of where your child’s school is.  Warwickshire would therefore ensure that appropriate provision is made for a child attending their schools. If a child does not have an EHC Plan, then they are entitled to access the same services as their Warwickshire peers because the school has been funded to secure support for all pupils attending their school.

19. Services have been re-designed but not in co-production with parents and families. I have only been asked to do one questionnaire on the value of CAFS. You say you want to work with parents but we are not consulted with. How will this change?

A proper consultation should be promoted widely not just by email. How would you get my email to ask my opinion?


The Early Help offer has been redesigned and we now have Early Help hubs and spokes. Parents are routinely asked for feedback and were involved in naming the hubs along with Local Councillors. Our aim moving forward is to have Partnership Boards and promote more service user participation. Any parents wanting to be involved would be welcome and can contact their local Hubs for information. We have had local open days of Early Help hubs to encourage the community to utilise the help available.

In Protection services we have started to complete random questionnaires with parents to ask about their experience of the social work offered. Any parents wishing to complete a questionnaire would be most welcome to do so.

20. It would be helpful if you explained the new service formats on the websites. What are the pathways? What are the referral criteria? What support will we get as therapy or training for parents?


There are Pathways on the Children’s safeguarding website. Work is in progress to bring together all pathways onto the Local Offer for ease of access.

21. Professionals in health, social and education need to be reminded of the importance of person 1st language e.g. child with Down syndrome, not downs child.


In Protection services relationship based practice is promoted.  For example our professionals used interpreters for all families where English is not the first language (this is a Laming requirement). Workers records are scrutinised through audits and derogatory language is challenged by Managers.

In education, there is a professional expectation that practitioners are well trained and conversant with the broad range of difficulties, through ongoing disability awareness training. We expect colleagues to treat everyone with respect and if there is a fall in that standard, we would ask the parent to contact the LA directly.

22. We appreciate the services we get and would like to be able to give views on improvement (Within confines of capacity and budget etc.)


There is a compliments comments and complaints procedures and this can be accessed via the website. Any parents wanting to give more specific feedback can do so via their worker or manager.

However, if parents are willing to invest some time in sharing their experience of the service they have received and have ideas for improvement we would very much welcome that input.

Would a weekly/monthly drop-in surgery be a good idea?