Fiona England, Chair of Brighton and Hove Parent Carer’s Council (PaCC) Steering Group tells us what PaCC have been up to over the last few months of lockdown
Lockdown, what an immense journey it has been. Over three months of mainly enforced staying at home, I have come to the conclusion that lockdown presents the same challenges as navigating the special educational needs system- lockdown is just as hard and as complex, with the added sadness around the realities Covid has brought to the world. As a community of parent carers we undertake these challenges whilst juggling the needs of our children. We are all amazing and exhausted!
The PaCC steering group has continued to work on your behalf throughout lockdown, and we thank you hugely for all the feedback you have shared with us during this time. I know that the feedback has helped shape the thoughts of senior leads in the local authority and health staff, and also school heads and SENCOs.
It is important to reflect that some families have fed back that their children are thriving at home. The absence of pressures of school and the rigidity of the current school system has made a profound difference for some children and we hope that lessons are learnt here about addressing different learning needs. As a community we must also acknowledge the families that were already educating their children at home as the current school system does not meet the needs of their child and a variety of provision is lacking in the city.
To give you a flavour of the work that we have been doing since the last PaCC round up, do take a look below.
PaCC have listened to the problems many families have faced in accessing safe outside space. We have talked to the Parks and Recreations manager at BHCC and we have some really exciting news! Brighton & Hove have identified three parks in the city which throughout the summer holidays will have two hour slots, 10am- 12pm for families with children and young people with SEND to access a safe space. The parks are: East Hill Park Secret Garden, St Anne’s Wells scented garden and East Brighton Park which includes the basketball court. We continue to lobby for more outdoor sports court space too, we will keep you posted. The three sites will not be staffed, so we cannot guarantee that members of the public may ignore the signs that the council are putting up, saying that the space is for our community (Compass card holders), but we are hoping that in time local communities will learn to respect that these slots are protected for our families.
Paolo Boldrini, PaCCs fantastic Parent Participation co-ordinator has written about how the three coffee morning communities in Moulescoomb, Hangleton and Knoll and Whitehawk have been coping during lockdown and the issues families are facing. Find out more about our coffee mornings.
Parent carers continue to feedback that the lack of respite and social care opportunities are taking a significant toll on all families wellbeing. PaCC has worked hard to maintain a spotlight on this and we have pushed for an emergency meeting around summer holiday provision for families. BHCC and social care leads are working on a plan to put into place some additional play provision and/or more flexible use of direct payments to help fill the gap. Keep your eye on our Facebook page or Amaze’s Facebook page for the detail as it emerges.
PaCC have listened to your feedback on school support during lockdown. PaCC and Amaze have written two letters to school leads during lockdown. We will be keeping a firm eye on how the return to school is for families in September. PaCC reps have highlighted how schools must use technology to include pupils who will remain shielded in the autumn term, we really hope to see the use of technology for CYP to attend virtual classes with their school mates and isolation is reduced.
For many of our children and young people, home to school transport as we know is the vital means to get to school. Diana Boyd and Pippa Hodge have written an important PaCC update on the work that we have been doing here and I fully acknowledge that bad memories of the start to school in September 19 are fully etched on our minds. Lots of work has been taking place here. Do take a look at our latest update on home to school transport.
Finally I must remind you about the SEND strategy consultation survey. PaCC have asked for an extension to the consultation period. The survey is currently open until 31st July but we are working with the council to extend the deadline until September. You can respond to the survey here. PaCC is pleased that BHCC have acknowledged that the consultation needs to address the needs of the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community. This is something that PaCC is working towards so that the forum will reflect the whole SEND community. We acknowledge the great work that PaCC partner, Fresh Youth Perspectives have been doing in the city over the past few years in relation to representing BAME communities and so other PaCC Partners.
I hope this round up has been useful and from all of the PaCC steering group can we wish you a very happy summer holidays. Please do keep in touch either on our Facebook group or by email email@example.com.
Take care everyone