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[Closed] February Open forum meeting: notes  


Wigan Parent Carer Forum
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22/04/2019 2:34 pm  

Capture of WPCF Open forum meeting - Ashland House Ince, Wigan.

WEDNESDAY 27th February 9:30 -12:00

Wigan Parent Carer Forum meeting - open to ALL Parent carers of children/young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities aged 0-25 in Wigan Borough.

HAVE YOUR SAY on the future of SEND services in Wigan. Come along to input your voice, so this can be shared within the workstreams deciding changes to SEND services in Wigan.



09:30 - Welcome and Introductions

09:45 - Updates on SEND transformation

10:15 - Focus on Support for Families

10:45 - Focus on Parent Participation

11:00 - Forum updates

11:15 - Developing Special School Provision Consultation

11:45 - Round up and questions

12:00 - Close


SEND Transformation Update:

There were brief updates today (due to the focus being on the capturing of parent carer views)

on support for families, Local Offer and Transition workstreams. (KM/LF)

No current update for Neurodevelopmental Pathway due to previous meeting times being inaccessible to parent carers so unable to attend. However Becky Johnson (CAMHS) had attended previous open forum meeting and gave an update.

LJA  updated the group with an explanation of the SEND Transformation strands and how parent carer forum representatives sit on meetings in the different strands which are:


Integrated services

Increasing inclusion

Improving provision

Support for families

Preparing for adulthood  

Today's open forum was focusing on the “support for families” strand and all information gathered would feed into that workstream and to the SEND Partnership Board where parent carer representatives sit. RB questioned how much decision making power do the SEND Partnership Board have and whether the parent carer forum representatives are part of the decision making. LJA explained the structure was still under development but no parent carer reps currently sat anywhere beyond the SEND Partnership Board and would take this back to the SEND Partnership Board for some clarity expressing how parents felt the need to be represented and also part of the decision making process.

Focus on support for families

Families had been made aware the contract from the Local Authority for “Parent Support” in Embrace was coming to an end in March and the future of this was uncertain. LJA informed parents the forum had contacted the Local Authority, as requested in the previous open forum meeting, asking for an official answer and clarity as to how parents would be supported from March but initially received no response. However this response was received from Clare Todd (SEND Lead):

the Parent Support strand delivered by Embrace will continue, this will only change following feedback from the consultation you are conducting with families and any feedback from the SEND transformation Support for Parents working group.

The Early years KW is also being continued until we have a better understanding of this work.

So the purpose of today was to capture how parent carers would like to be supported moving forward.

We split into 5 groups and discussed how we want support to look for our families.


What do you need as a family to support you?


SEND Transformation: Support for Families: What do you need to support your family?

Educational support - reasonable adjustment

Information on Independent Living

Resources : EHCP /available support/revision guides/ resources for low achieving children

Emotional support: on top of SENDIASS

Personal Budget information

Training: Parent training on EHCP applications and advice/support

Transport: How does it work and when does it come in

Financial support/strategies: Travel training/personal budgets

Support with fighting for EHCP and the process

Coping strategies for dealing with agencies/school

Advocacy for parents who don’t have the confidence to speak out

Knowledge that staff are trained on SEND and proof they have put it into practice in mainstream education system

Constantly asking for staff to communicate/chasing school up when they’ve promised to put something into place

Better understanding/communication between school and parents - strategies to be put into place and followed up

Getting a diagnosis/getting help with it. The whole process causes stress for parents/carers/family

Getting people to recognise SEND conditions with child/young person.

Group 2

Practical support, help with EHCP

MAinstream school should have a SEND Governor

Social Care & CAMHS: Only available when crisis

Emotional support : Immediate contact with independent support

School Liaison: someone to support you with school issues

Better communication with school

Who to go to with help for Health Care Issues? SENDIASS?

Group 3

Engaging school (LIES)


Family Champion

Advocate at EHCP panel

Emotional support

No-one tells you what’s available

Clarity about budgets

EHCP not being adhered to

An advocate with knowledge & clout who can challenge and stand up for the needs of the family - to go to panels

Get it out sessions

Group 4

Child centred,Education, Health, Wellbeing Collaboration

Parent carers need more awareness of whats available in way of help.

Support as parent carers : Training, emotional, financial

Better cooperation in the process of assessment

Transitions must be smoother

Funding needs improving

Group 5

Knowledge: need professionals to be able to signpost -don’t seem to have the knowledge/awareness (majority comes from other parents)


People willing to understand and listen - every family and children are individual

Support needs to be tailored to families

Transition training - support /guidance through each stage of a child’s transition: pre-school>primary>kS2>KS3 etc

Awareness- opportunities for parents to gain awareness of pathways, processes, terminology without assuming parents know.

Community groups - likeminded parents to share experiences, opportunities to meet in a safe understanding environment

DLA Support ( W&L Carers, Embrace)

Better support for diagnosis at birth - just sent home!

Support with appointments to schools (specialist) no guidance

Local Offer - doesn’t have everything on.

Step by Step guide to what is available - flow chart - what to expect on your journey

Support during diagnosis when emotional support is needed

Offer services such as counseling


Focus on Parent Participation


As above we discussed how the same “Parent Support” contract also included the Parent Participation Coordinator, this post currently not filled but with support from Embrace for the forum until March. There are no plans from Embrace to fill the post with only a month to go on the contract and there are no plans currently to continue this contract.


Again we split into 5 groups to ask:


What should parent participation look like - how do you want to have your voice heard?:


SEND Transformation: Support for families: Parent Participation - How do you want/can your voice best be heard?

Need a paid parent participation coordinator to compliment Parent Carer Forum, SENDIASS & Local Authority.

SENCO’s and SEN Governors to join us in discussion (none teaching time)


Get young people to join us to strengthen our voice

Skype meetings / Face time

The forum having a point of contact in the LA who responds to you said /we did.

On big issues, join forces with other groups NAS/W&LC/ADHD etc

Group 2

Focus group - target orientated

Dedicated person/team to be link between community and Local Authority

More awareness of parent participation - increase attendance - social media, newsletters, SENCO’s

More opportunities - community based will increase awareness and provide opportunities for like minded parents to come together

Ongoing two way communication between LA and Health to ensure parents voice is being listened and acted upon - NOT just lip service - Parents are the best people to shape future services to ensure families are supported

Regular half day events, minuted and structured to enable us to hold LA to account.

Group 3

A group.

Different means of engaging

Social Media

More transition events

Evaluation forms

“Lots of changes”  - how will it affect us?

Have meetings to discuss

Aware of who to contact in Council for info

Accessible events

Newsletter for all schools /email/website/text

On diagnosis sign parents up to PCF Membership

Encourage everyone’s opinion counts

Raising awareness/marketing

Group 4

Responsive/Clear Communication

Accessible information (many formats)

Where?When?Who?How? Clear procedures /Clear roles and responsibilities


Natural opportunities

Local Offer: Clear, accurate and up to date sources of help , advice and support

How parent carers can find: Confidence in procedures , how to influence and inform?

Group 5

Continue paid participation worker

A lot more incentive to volunteer

Feedback to hear how voice heard

Focus groups for parents who need support

Facebook getting parents views

Calls - views

Email - the right people - who can we talk to?

Childcare for meetings PM

Forms to all send children,adults, schools doctors should

Carers centre should also give our help for young people (form)

Forum updates


We discussed:


Structure of the forum

Chair - Lisa Aldred

Vice Chair - Leanne Flaherty

Engagement Team - Sarah Marsh, Kirstin Hart, Beth Prosser, Kelly Mc Clarence (4 others to be confirmed in Mays open meetin)

Volunteers - (open to all)

Members - all those registered with the forum.


All parent carers of children/young people aged 0-25 with SEND in Wigan can register as members of the forum.

Once someone has volunteered consistently for over 6 months at coffee mornings, stay and plays or other designated forum work they can apply to be part of the Engagement Team.

There are requirements to be part of the engagement team and the intention is that this team remains small whilst being representative of different disabilities/ages/groups.

The engagement team, chair and vice chair will discuss and decide all applications.


The forum is currently a constituted group, the official Parent Carer Forum for Wigan Borough.

The purpose of the forum is to be the voice of parent carers in Wigan on strategic groups, working in partnership with Education, Health and Social Care and other services ensuring services meet the needs of those that use them.


It was explained how previously the forum had been supported by a Parent Participation Coordinator (PPC), funded by the Local authority employed by Embrace Wigan and Leigh.

There is currently no-one in post and the contract for this post comes to an end at the end of March.

From March there will be no PPC whilst SEND Transformation process will consult with parent carers on how they want these services to look in the future.

It was explained this leaves the forum in a vulnerable position moving forward. All current work is voluntary. We receive a small grant from the Department of Education each year of £15,000 pounds. We discussed what this has been spent on this year:


MAX Cards

Data Base

Stay and Plays

Coffee Mornings

Meeting room hire

Parent Empowerment Course

Participation event

Misc (laptop/phone/resources)

SEND Newsletter (part funded by LA)

We asked what the group wanted for the coming year considering we needed to consider the reduced capacity.

To continue with the above where possible, have some evening meetings with special guests, somewhere you can take children, different days,find free rooms.

We discussed issues with the SEND Newsletter - no assurance the LA would continue to part fund it. No “black bag system” to distribute to schools. Limited capacity with no coordinator to distribute. The forum are keen to continue this great resource and will continue to look into options. We talked about the expectations parents might have and what is needed with the reality of capacity of the forum and volunteers. The current priority being to capture parent carer voice and represent this on SEND Transformation strands all other options need to be considered carefully with capacity in mind. There are plans to do some volunteer recruitment and planning for the next year within the next few months after consideration of today’s meeting.


There was much enthusiasm and ideas for future opportunities for the forum however there was a need to be realistic about capacity. Although a committed group the reality is, without a coordinator capacity is limited.  


Developing special school provision consultation.

We discussed this consultation briefly and mainly raised awareness of the need to complete the survey when you return home..


Questions and comments:

Where do children go whilst the schools change and expand?

The feel was parent carers should have more of a say on all this. - including how the buildings are set out etc

Parents and children are anxious about mainstream provision.

There is a gap for those who are too able for special school but cannot cope in mainstream.

Shape the facilities they have - make them better

Teach mainstream how to deal with special needs


It was explained that it is expected there will be further consultation from Wigan Council.

We could invite someone from the LA to answer some of the questions that arise.

We had been informed there will be focus groups arranged for upcoming plans.

Someone from the LA was prepared to come to this meeting to discuss this but due to the limited time we had to discuss support for families we needed to decline.

It was explained today was a start to the parent carer forum capturing parent carer views in regard to the "Support for families" workstream, there would also be surveys and views captured through other events/sessions. This information will be collated and then used by our representatives when attending SEND Transformation workstreams in order to be representative of parent carer voice in Wigan Borough. 

Corrections, views or comments welcome, please send them to participation@wiganpcf.org.uk