MINUTES of meeting held on Wednesday 7 March 2012
6 (Chair) Whitby WHISH and Chair of NYPACT
57 Principal SEND Officer
58 Principal Education Social Worker
59 Parent and NYPACT
60 Parents and Family Rights Group
61 Ryedale Special Families
62 Quality & Improvement
63 PPC (Selby)
64 Senior PPC Apologies:
65 Parent and Parents Advocacy Coordinator
66 Children Centre rep
68 Disabled Children Service rep
69 Ripons Acorns parents group
70 Consultant Community Paediatrician
71 Q & I Lead Vulnerable Learners
1.Welcome and introductions
58 began the meeting by welcoming everyone and expressing thanks to 6 for taking on the
role of chairing the steering group which is an important step in establishing the
independent governance of the Parent Partnership Service.
After introductions, 64 explained that the current restructure of CYPS has led to changes in
post of some PPSG members which means that new reps for children’s social care, Q & I and
strategic services will be nominated in time for the next meeting.
64 has also written to 70 and it is hoped that she will be able to attend future PPSG
meetings to represent health services.
2.Minutes of last meeting 29 September 2011
58 apologised for the postponement of the PPSG meeting scheduled for January as it has
been five months since the last meeting. The minutes were reviewed and the only matter
arising was regarding feedback from parents about the PPS. It was agreed that this would be
discussed later in this meeting. 64 explained that the PPS seeks views from parents whose
child has just completed a statutory assessment. A questionnaire is sent to all parents with
the new proposed statement and the information is collated and shared with the LA.
Recommendations are then made from parents’ views to improve their experience of their
process. 64 will discuss with 72 (SEN Manager) how these reports can be shared with
parents e.g. through the website.
58 then formally handed over the Chair to 6.
3. Update on PPS
58 described some of changes to the structure of the Children and Young People’s Service
(CYPS) which is in the process of a major restructure. Some organisational charts were
handed out to illustrate the proposed new structure of Access and Inclusion (A & I) and the
advisory service Quality and Improvement (Q & I).
Currently the PPS is sited within the Learning, Youth and Skills (LYS) section as part of the
Education Social Work (ESW) service which 58 heads. Under the restructure LYS will be
disestablished and the ESW will return to Access & Inclusion of which 73 is the Assistant
Director. The Disabled Children’s Service will leave social care and also go into A & I on 1
May 2012. This means that the care and education LA services for disabled children will be
within A & I. Previously it had been decided that it would be better for PPS not to sit within
the service which is responsible for SEN to allow it to be at “arm’s length” from SEN
decisions and policy. 58 stated that the LA is keen to protect and guard the independence of
the Parent Partnership Service especially if it sits within A & I.
The exemplifications stress the importance of parents’ confidence that the PPS is in a
position to challenge the LA where necessary on behalf of parents both in individual cases
and on a policy level. It was pointed out that the PPCs will not have access to information
about children without the expressed permission of parents. They will not be able to input
onto the LA data base, nor will they be able to access reports or files on children unless
permission is granted by parents directly. This will create a “firewall” between the LA and
the PPS which will protect both parents and the service from being perceived as being
ensconced within the LA.
A member asked about the location of the PPCs in offices across the county as it was
understood that PPCs mainly sit in open plan offices alongside SEN Officers and other LA
colleagues. It was acknowledged that this is the case for most of the PPCs but that the PPCs
are sensitive to this issue and will take care to use their mobile phones or remove
themselves to a private space where confidential conversations are taking place. Open plan
offices are the way things are going. Some members of the PPSG expressed their confidence
that the PPCs are able to operate independently of the LA but it was agreed that this
concern would be kept under review if the co-location of the PPS alongside other LA staff
would undermine parental confidence in the impartiality of the PPCs. It was also pointed out
that the PPCs spend most of their time “on the road” on home and school visits and little
time is spent in the office base.
ACTION: 64 will provide information for the next PPSG about where the PPCs are located.
Feedback will also be obtained from parents via the questionnaire about their confidence
in the impartiality of their PPC.
61 asked whether it would be possible to protect the role of the Specialist Careers Advisers
whose contract with IGEN comes to an end in August. It was stressed how important the
skills of these staff are to parents and young people. Many parents were hoping that the
Specialist Careers Service could be located within A & I.
61 asked for the views of the PPSG about the PPS website, whether there should be a stand-
alone website as previously or whether it was sufficient for the PPS to develop its page
within the NYCC website. The exemplifications recommend that PPSs provide information to
parents via a website which is independent from the Local Authority. This used to be the
case in North Yorkshire but it was difficult to keep the page up to date and it was quite
expensive to maintain. Some discussion took place about the benefits of an independent
website compared to maintaining a webpage within the NYCC website.
It was pointed out that NYPACT are developing an improved website with vast amounts of
information for parents across all areas of North Yorkshire. NYPACT are happy for parents to
be directed to their site from NYCC’s site and vice versa. This seems to make more sense
than different organisations working for children and families maintaining separate websites
with similar information.
In summary it was agreed that for the time being the PPS will develop and improve its page
on the NYCC website with easy links to the NYPACT website (due to be re-launched at the
ACTION: 64 to keep PPS presence on NYCC website up to date with information for
parents about sources of independent advice which parents can access alongside the
council’s information about its policies and procedures.
Website issue to be reviewed once the new NYCC SEND webpages and NYPACT website
are launched. A stand-alone website may be considered appropriate for the PPS at a later
stage once the new legislation regarding SEND has come into force.
58 drew the PPSG’s attention to the most recent budget sheet for the Parent Partnership
Service which illustrates the financial allocation and expenditure for this tax year. This
shows that the bulk of the service budget is spent on staffing for direct casework. 64
pointed out that the service has been making efforts to make economies in areas such as
staff training, venues and refreshments but that is still a high cost for staff travel expenses
as a result of the emphasis on direct casework across this huge county. 58 confirmed that
the service will not suffer significant cuts during the coming budget round.
A copy of the Community Accord contract options had been sent to the PPSG members.
Some discussion took place about the role of mediation with SEN issues. It was confirmed
that NY only uses the formal mediation service once or twice a year as the LA and PPC are
try to promote informal resolution of parental concerns/disputes at an early stage although
this is alongside, not instead of, parents’ legal right of appeal to the SENDIST (Tribunal)
where applicable. Mediation is only recommended if there is room for manoeuvre between
the LA, parents and the school/setting. A mediation case can cost between £600 - £1200 so
it makes sense to agree that it is worth the expense and everyone’s time to pursue this
avenue. Unfortunately, it is quite late in the year to spend a lot of time exploring other
mediation providers but for next year the contract will be reviewed at the autumn PPSG
meeting to avoid this “fait accompli”. A member wanted clarification of the qualifications of
the mediators at Community Accord. A discussion also took place about whether mediators
should be in a position to provide legal advice especially as the LA are strengthening their
access to expert legal advice to defend their position.
ACTION: 64 will inform Community Accord that North Yorkshire will purchase their
contract for one year for £1560 which includes #. 64 also to obtain confirmation of the
accreditation of the mediators at Community Accord.
SEN Mediation contract for 2013/14 to be discussed at the autumn PPSG
4. PPS and Academies
A member of the PPSG had requested that the role of PPS within the academies be raised at
this meeting. It had been brought to notice that some parents had been informed that their
PPC was not welcome at the school once it had gained academy status.
58 confirmed that all parent were entitled to access the PPS regardless of the type of school
or setting their child(ren) attended and that schools would be expected to invite/allow the
PPC to attend meetings and school visits with parents.
ACTION: 64 to draft a letter to the heads of NY academies reminding them of their
responsibilities towards the parents of children with SEND including notifying them of the
PPS and accepting PPC presence in school if parents wish this kind of support. This letter
will be sent jointly by 58 and 6 as Chair of the PPSG. (Copy to be available to PPSG
5. PPS Annual Report 2011
This had been circulated prior to the PPSG meeting. Members discussed some of the trends
in the report in particular the statistics relating to referrals. It was noted that the majority of
casework is with parents whose child attends mainstream without a statement of SEN at the
point of referral.
Self evaluation of the exemplifications of the minimum standards for PPSs
. 6 noted that
there were only two areas where the PPS is not compliant with the minimum standards.
These were relating to Independent Parental Supporters (IPSs) where it was confirmed that
the PPS is no longer recruiting and training new volunteers but operates a different model
altogether by working closely with voluntary groups and NYPACT. Where parents request
SEN advice which is completely independent from the LA (which happens very rarely) all the
PPCs are able to signpost those parents to an appropriate source of independent advice and
support. This may be to a national organisation such as IPSEA, ACE, Contact a Family, NAS or
to a local agency/support group who the PPC is confident has current knowledge of the SEN
systems and funding mechanisms. It was debated whether the service is therefore
compliant with the minimum standards as it is always able to ensure that parents have
access to independent advice, on occasions this has involved advice from legal trained
ACTION – 64 will write to all the remaining registered IPSs (PPS trained) in the county to
clarify whether they are still involved actively with any families and whether they wish to
continue this role.
The other area was is in relation to parental legal rights being set out in PPS parent leaflets.
This issue will be discussed further as a new series of information sheets is being produced
which will point parents in the direction of their legal rights in education.
ACTION – The PPCs will be doing a presentation at the primary Senco Networks for this
term. This will hopefully promote the PPS to Sencos so they in turn can let parents know.
Expenses form for travel to this meeting will be attached along with the minutes. Please
email them to 64 or complete and return at the next PPSG meeting.
The date and time of the next PPSG meeting will be Tuesday 8 May
2012 from 10.30 – 12.30 in Meeting Room 3 in the Brierley Building
(main reception) at County Hall, Nothallerton, DL7 8AE