The conference sector has been kept busy this past two years with the rapid pace of the SEND Reforms, from the announcement of the SEND Green Paper in March 2011, through to Royal Assent for the Children and Families Act in March 2014.
Personal Budgets have long been a feature of the reforms but remain shrouded in mystery and a source of unease. In order for one group of stakeholders – parents, carers and young people – to have more choice and control over the services they use, and to have the option of a Personal Budget, another group – early years, schools and other educational settings, must relinquish that hold on the control of services.
In a round of conference speaking engagements earlier this year, I have spoken about Personal Budgets, often incorporated into a whole day focus on the SEND Reforms, the Local Offer, Education Health and Care Plans and the revised SEN Code of Practice.
See below for a link to the full conference presentation.
Aspects of Personal Budgets that have emerged as key challenges from the pathfinder projects and other forums are detailed as follows -
Key challenges ahead
- Implementing lessons learned from the pathfinders, being mindful not to be constrained by this tentative step into the muddy waters of Personal Budgets
- Understanding local perceptions and parental feelings towards Personal Budgets, their anxieties, concerns and aspirations
- Strengthening the role of key workers, parent partnership organisations, advocates and independent supporters
- Gaining the involvement at all stages of children and young people in their EHC Plan
- Understanding and being tuned into the diversity of provision from all sectors that is available in a locality
- SEND providers having a Service Offer available for schools and parents, based on a realistic costing of services and provision
Key Opportunities ahead
- Opportunities for parents, young people, schools and specialist providers to explore the breadth and diversity of SEND provision in the locality, some of which may not have been accessed previously
- Incorporating knowledge gained from the One Page Profiles into support provision and sourcing providers
- Giving parents and young people a real say in determining the support provision they require is empowering for all and far more likely to foster good working relationships between home and school
- Considering the needs of the child in the home context, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, rather than between the hours of 9am and 3pm, should ensure that social, leisure, sporting and creative activities become a part of the picture of a holistic approach to addressing needs through the EHC plan
- Enabling parents and young people to share the burden of securing and determining support will ease the pressure from school SEN staff who frequently work under exacting time pressures
- An opportunity for local authorities to consider the breadth of provision from all sectors in the locality, as an asset to the region, and not a threat
- A chance for specialist providers to consider their Service Offer, their long term vision and strategy, and to collaborate to provide timely and flexible services, delivered at the point of need and not at the point of capacity.
Check in here often for updates as new support packages are developed by the SEND pathfinders and further information is released. Do also search through the resources and links below.
Resources & Useful Links
In Control – Dept for Education – Support and Aspiration – Introducing Personal Budgets, October 2013
SEND Pathfinder – Dept for Education – Dept for Health
Personal Budgets and Direct Payments
Devon SEND Pathfinder
HM Stack Consulting – Personal Budgets, SEN Leader Conferences – Feb – March 2014.
HM Stack Wordpress – On SEND reforms, personal budgets and choice and control
Together for Short Lives – charity for all children with life threatening or life limiting conditions