News for forums

Annual Report now available

Read the latest report on parent carer participation Strengthening Parent Carer Participation: Annual Report 2016-17 [PDF], which reports on how parent carer participation is working across England.

Upcoming Webinars

See details of upcoming webinars on our Learning and events for forums page. Recordings of past webinars and relevant resources are available on our Resources page.

Celebrating participation in healthcare community grants - apply now!

NHS England have launched a community grants programme to enable voluntary organisations to capture good practice that happens in patient and citizen participation.

The grant scheme opened on 28 September 2017 and applications close on 31 October 2017. If your organisation or parent carer forum meets the criteria and has a story to tell about how you have made a difference to healthcare through a participation project, you can apply for up to £2,000 to capture it so that others can learn from your experience.

Find out more and for full application details and criteria.

Department for Education publishes latest forum SEND survey

The Department for Education (DfE) has published its latest newsletter, including the headline figures from the Spring 2017 special educational needs and disability (SEND) implementation survey of local authorities and parent carer forums on the SEND reforms.

The surveys are coordinated jointly by Contact, the National Network of Parent Carer Forums, NHS England and the DfE. They help assess progress with the SEN reforms and help the government to identify what's working well and where additional resources are needed to meet the challenges involved in introducing the new system.

With about seven months to go until the implementation of the reforms is complete, there is a very mixed picture of progress towards this deadline:

  • 114, or 75% parent carer forums responded to the survey.
  • 64% of forums who completed the survey are now largely or fully engaged in strategic planning with their local authority.
  • 44% of forums are confident that their local authority is meeting the 20-week deadline for producing at least 90% of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

Of the 90% of local authorities that completed the survey:

  • 39% are issuing at least 90% of EHC plans within 20 weeks.
  • The main barriers to meeting timeframes are team capacity, the time it takes for authorities to get advice from health professionals and named schools, and the capacity of educational psychologists to give advice.
  • 20% said that children are fully or largely engaged in strategic planning of SEN services, 40% said that young people are fully or largely engaged, and 84% said that parents are fully or largely engaged.

Contact's view and education advice

We are aware from speaking to parents on the helpline that there have been long delays in many local authorities with the transfer process. We are still speaking to families where the process has not yet started and who worry whether their child's support will be taken away next year.

While we hope that local authorities will comply with their duties to transfer all statements by the deadline, we welcome the announcement by the DfE that children who are still waiting for the transfer process to be completed after 31 March will not lose their legal right to support.  

Visit our education pages if you're looking for advice on getting support for your child in school, college or early years settings. You can also call our free helpline to talk through your concerns with one of our education advisers.

More information about the survey

Refer to the parent carer forum summary report for the full findings on the national picture of SEND reforms implementation from the perspective of parent carer forums in relation to participation and engagement; early years; schools and academies; colleges; SEN support; preparation for adulthood; the local offer; joint commissioning; the transforming care agenda; young offenders in custody; good practice, challenges and barriers in meeting the 20-week EHC plan deadline.

For the headline findings from the local authority survey, download the DfE newsletter and letter from Robert Goodwill MP, Minister of State for Children and Families to Directors of Children's Services.

9th SEND survey highlights report now available

The highlights report of the 9th Department for Education SEND survey of parent carer forums has been published today see the parent carer forum highlights report.

New Minister for Children and Families at the Department for Education

It has been announced that Mr Robert Goodwill is the newly appointed Minister for Children and Families at the Department for Education. Mr Goodwill comes from his previous role as Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport where he had been in post for the past 18 months. He has been an elected member since 2005 representing Scarborough and Whitby and previously served as a member of the European Parliament. 

Contact a Family will be working with the NNPCF Steering Group to introduce Mr Goodwill to the work of parent carer forums and the importance of parent carer participation and co-production.

Data Security update for forums

In light of the news over the weekend that many organisations, NHS Trusts and businesses have suffered a cyber attack we have collated some information and tips that forums may find useful.

This is not intended to be exhaustive but we hope you find it a useful starting point.

Resources from special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) decision making and the law workshops

In January/February 2017, workshops were held across the nine regions to assist local authorities in interpreting and applying the legal requirements of the Children and Families Act 2014 to some of the key decision points  

The workshops were led by the Department for Education SEND Adviser team and IPSEA, facilitated by Mott MacDonald. All resources that were either used or referred to across these workshops are now available to download on the Mott MacDonald website.

If you have any queries about the SEND decision making and the law workshops, please direct these to or call the helpline on 0207 651 0308.

Health workshop for forums ready to be delivered now!

In response to concerns raised about participation in the health system following the reforms, Contact a Family is offering this bespoke workshop led by two of our experienced consultants.

This workshop will look at national and local health issues, help to clarify the role and contribution of forums and provide a framework for future action. See the flyer for further information.

What's next for participation?

On 1 November 2016, 211 attendees from 88 parent carer forums from across England met to discuss 'What's next for participation?' at our annual joint NNPCF and Contact a Family Parent Carer Participation Conference. See the Highlights video from the day.

The event celebrated the progress that has been made now that parent carers are at the heart of the decision-making process about disabled children services.

During the event parent carers were asked what parent participation meant to them. Here are some of their answers:

"The belief and conviction that we can really get our voices heard if we take the opportunities and avenues available to us.

"Parents having a right to have a say is a really positive change."

"An opportunity to meet other parents and carers in similar situations."

A speech written by the Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families, Edward Timpson MP, said: "Thank you for all your hard work and commitment - to the parent carer forums, to the National Network and to Contact a Family. Thank you for leading the way in co-production - really making sure that the voice of parents is properly heard."

During the event the Lee Scott Report - a review of the experiences of disabled children and their families of schools and colleges - was published.

For more about the conference, read a personal account of the day [PDF].

Department for Education reports on progress of education reforms

The Department for Education (DfE) has published an analysis of data about special educational needs [PDF] and the progress of reforms to the special educational needs (SEN) education system that began in September 2014.

The DfE's data shows that in 2015 only 59% of the new Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans were issued within the 20 week time limit.

Read the full story.

Ministerial Response to the NNPCF National Priorities Document

The NNPCF Steering Group members met with both Edward Timpson and Jane Ellison, the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Public Health recently. At these meetings we presented both Ministers with the NNPCF National Priorities document [PDF].

The NNPCF have now received the response to the document from the Ministers [PDF]. The Steering Group will continue to work with the Ministers and others to address the issues raised in the National Priorities document.

The NNPCF and Contact a Family have also extended an invitation to both Ministers to attend our National Conference this year, the date of which has yet to be confirmed, but will most likely be held in October.

GP's Learning Disability Register Request

See further information about a joint piece of work by Contact a Family, the NNPCF (National Network of Parent Carer Forums), the Department for Education and the Department of Health to raise awareness about the GP's Learning Disability Register.

This includes an opportunity for forums to raise awareness among their members about this register and the benefits it offers using an example letter [DOC]. This work is also being supported by activity by NHS England to highlight to Clinical Commissioning Groups the need to increase the number of young people with Learning Disabilities on this register. 

For further information on this, please contact

Short Breaks services, the journey so far…

Watch a webinar on short breaks services to find out:

  • what are short breaks services?
  • the responsibilities of statutory authorities
  • how parent carer forums can be involved
  • what useful resources we offer forums.

Download the presentation from the webinar [PDF].

The Contact a Family and NNPCF parent carer participation bulletin (England)

Contact a Family and the National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) produce a joint parent carer participation bulletin. This bulletin contains key information about the development of parent carer participation, information about important changes across health services, special education and social care in England, news for local forums, the latest news from the NNPCF and opportunities for forums to participate. Sign up for the parent carer participation joint bulletin.

Resources on co-production

What this co-production video or watch the subtitled version, where forums, local authorities, health providers and commissioners share their experiences of working in co-production and how it helped them improve services.

Look on our resources page to find out how Leeds successfully worked in co-production to implement the SEND reforms.

Parent carer forum handbook - published Jan 2015

The parent carer forum handbook [PDF] has useful information to help people running parent carer forums.

For more information go to Setting up and running a forum page.

Latest info on special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) reforms

Recent reports