Children and Families Bill

Memorandum submitted by Portsmouth Parent Voice (CF 83)

1. I am the co-ordinator for Portsmouth Parent Voice ( a local parents' group for disabled children, young people and their families, and the Co-Chair of the Priority G Strategy Board Group for Portsmouth, which was set up to oversee and meet the needs of disabled and SEN children, which is a sub group of Portsmouth's Children's Trust Board, as well as a parent governor at the Mary Rose Special School in Portsmouth.

2. I am very aware that the Children and Families Bill is currently being scrutinised. However, I would very much like to take this opportunity to point out something that might have been missed.

3. As I am sure you are more than aware that schools are overseen by governing bodies. This is even more pertinent if the school where you are a governor changes to academy status. It is these governing bodies that take account of all the decision-making regarding the school. Many changes are taking place: in particular this year from April 2013, the changes to SEN funding for mainstream schools.

4. As the Co-Chair of the Priority G Strategy Board Group, I asked how many schools in Portsmouth have a dedicated SEN Governor. Only two thirds do, this is something we are trying to overcome with an active recruitment drive.

5. However, there is nothing in the Children & Families Bill that specifically mentions the importance of SEN Governance, with possibly an open encouragement from the Government to ensure that all schools actively recruit and adequately train their SEN Governors, particularily in line with all the changes that will be occuring. I feel that this is terribly important, for without this, the SEN children within that school will be failed, even with all the positive change that is happening, as there will be no one on their Governing Body standing up for their rights, scrutinising the school, asking pertinent questions about the budget and ensuring that the SEN children at their school are receiving the care and support that they need.

6. Having drawn your attention to this situation, would you please confirm whether this is something that needs to be addressed and has possibly been overlooked?  I would also be grateful if you confirm what action you intend to take to rectify this situation.

I very much look forward to hearing your response.

April 2013

Prepared 19th April 2013