Families needing an EHCP face delays of more than a year

Families needing an EHCP face delays of more than a year

A report by the Government has found that families of children with SEND are being let down by the system set up to support them.

It found that families needing an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) for their child are facing a delay of more than a year, which has meant that the number of complaints made to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has risen drastically.

The Ombudsman’s latest report has found that they are upholding nearly 9 out of every 10 investigations (87%). Added to this, the report revealed that they are receiving more complaints than they have ever received before – 45 per cent more in the year 2018-19 than in 2016-17.

The report, entitled “Not going to plan?” looks at the problems the Ombudsman has found whilst investing parents’ complaints. Issues flagged include:

  • Delays of up to 90 weeks, and regularly more than a year, in having an EHCP issued
  • Not anticipating needs in the local area
  • Poor communication
  • Lack of preparation for meetings
  • Oversights by senior staff members

Ombudsman Michael King said: “We are now upholding almost nine in 10 investigations we carry out about Education, Health and Care plans. This is exceptional and unprecedented in our work. Two years ago when the system was bedding in, we were concerned we were upholding around 80 per cent of investigations. That we are investigating and upholding significantly more complaints two years later suggests a system in crisis.

“I am now particularly concerned some authorities may be putting in place extra barriers to ration scarce resources, rather than basing support on children’s needs. While I can empathise with the difficulties authorities face, there can never be an excuse for failing to meet the statutory rights of children.

“I hope this report puts the children and their families’ experiences in the spotlight and the battles they face, and ultimately more urgency on the whole SEND system improving.”

A spokesperson from the Department for Education said: “Over 48,000 children were issued with new Education and Health Care Plans in last year, and the majority of these were completed within 20 weeks. During the assessment process children continue to attend their school and receive additional support, until their tailored support package is put into place.

“We’ve also announced an extra £700 million for pupils with complex needs in 2020/21 – an 11 per cent increase on this year.

“However, we know the system is not working well enough for every family, and have launched a review to introduce further improvements.”





Former Grenfell Tower nursery receives Ofsted ‘outstanding’

Former Grenfell Tower nursery receives Ofsted ‘outstanding’

Two years on from the tragedy, a nursery located at the foot of Grenfell Tower has rebuilt their setting in the most spectacular fashion.

Grenfell Early Years, which cared for 40 children, was housed at the base of the tower and was cordoned off as a crime scene after the terrible events which occurred in June 2017. A total of 72 people lost their lives in the blaze.

Incredibly, they reopened in a new location just 4 days after the disaster.

Following an Ofsted inspection in August, the setting was awarded the coveted ‘outstanding’ status; a testament to their resilience in the wake of such tragedy.  The staff were “overwhelmed” with joy at receiving the top grade.

Shirley Sylvester, manager of the nursery, said they had “lost everything” in their former setting and the children on their register were among the survivors. Ms Sylvester also touched on the fact that the staff “all knew” people who were among the 72 who died.

She said: “We’re really proud of how we got up and running within four days [of the fire]. We didn’t think of it like that at the time, but the families needed us. There’s been so much goodwill, it’s made us tearful 100 times.”

Amongst the goodwill the setting received were donations of books from publishers Penguin and Osborne, furniture from a local set designer, new climbing frames from The Toy Project and laptops from Hewlett Packard.

Louise Tomlinson, deputy manager, said: “People had lost everything in their flats so they needed someone to care for their children. We were somewhere they could be safe.

“The community really helped us because, we literally had nothing. The support was marvellous, it helped us step back up again.”

Ms Tomlinson, who has worked at Grenfell Early Years since 2004, added: “Going through the inspection … we knew it was coming. It was a gloomy Monday morning. We all looked at each other and said ‘come on let’s do what we do best’.

“We had all been doing this for years and we knew our stuff. But you worry they’ll ask things like ‘why isn’t the window clean’, or anything.

“But it was overwhelming when we got the result, really exciting.”

The setting was able to relocate to the Ilys Booker Centre and can now cater for 24 children, compared to 40 children at their location in Grenfell Tower.

Ms Sylvester said they were seeking the help of the council to find bigger premises for the nursery to move into.





Not so mellow yellow – Cheshire childcare group supports World Mental Health Day

Not so mellow yellow – Cheshire childcare group supports World Mental Health Day

Press release from Elmscot Day Nurseries

Nursery Managers and Practitioners of Elmscot Group Day Nurseries, Nursery Schools and Out-of-School Clubs across Cheshire have come together to show their support for World Mental Health Day.

#HelloYellow is a campaign launched by YoungMinds, a UK charity that fights for the future of children and young people’s mental health. By wearing a pop of yellow or even an entire yellow outfit and making a donation, people across the country have shown their support for the cause.

ITV’s Britain Get Talking campaign has also been supporting mental wellness and is centred on bringing families closer. Backed by the YoungMinds charity, the campaign highlights that anxiety and depression in children has risen by 48% since 2004. Through silencing popular television programmes and advertising, families are being encouraged to “tune back in to the story in your living room”.

Elmscot Group understands that good mental health and wellbeing is important to enable children and young people to reach their full potential, build resilience and self-regulation – all vital life skills to become a confident and able adult.

Back in April 2019, Managers and Practitioners across the childcare group completed either a Level 2 course in Understanding Children and Young People’s Mental Health or a Level 2 course in Awareness of Mental Health Problems. These courses focused on support and early intervention from early childhood and on adult and workplace health awareness, respectively.

Most recently, seven of the Managers within Elmscot Group have successfully trained in Mental Health First Aid – showing the group’s continued commitment to mental health support and awareness.

Rachael Lyons, Elmscot Group Operations Manager said: “The importance of good mental health and support is a priority for us across the group. We are gradually getting closer to achieving the goal we set out this year of becoming an emotionally healthy childcare business.

“Being able to show our support for such an incredible campaign means a lot to us and we were delighted to donate and raise awareness amongst Elmscot Group families.”

Elmscot Group provides outstanding childcare and education to over 1,800 children across Cheshire.

To find out more about Elmscot Group and to enquire about childcare places, please call 0161 980 0003 or visit our website at: www.elmscot.co.uk


NMT – Hungry Caterpillars Nursery Chef Finalist 2019

NMT – Hungry Caterpillars Nursery Chef Finalist 2019

Press release from Hungry Caterpillars

We are so proud to announce that Kate, our wonderful Chef from our Chalfont St Peter Nursery has been shortlisted as a finalist for the NMT Nursery Chef 2019

Kate was secretly nominated by her team for her calm approach, cooking delicious healthy meals for 60 to 70 children per day, managing a huge range of dietary needs and allergies.  In addition, Kate plans and delivers weekly cooking classes for the children, which she adapts to ensure even those with allergies can participate fully.

Since joining Hungry Caterpillars Chef team Kate has also been part of the ‘menu planning and development group’, working with senior management to ensure our seasonal menus across the company work not only on paper but on a day to day basis in the nursery.

The next step for Kate is the Chef Judging day which is on the 9th October.  It will be a bit like master chef with a timed cook-off and tasting by the judges.  A bit nerve-wracking but knowing Kate she will take it all in her stride.  I’m sure you will join me in wishing Kate the best of luck.

About the NMT Awards

NMT Nursery Awards 2019 is an annual event organised by Nursery Management Today, the leading business publication in the nursery sector and sponsored by key companies providing services in the sector. The Awards are designed to reward excellence in childcare and celebrate the very best people in the Nursery Sector. There were 18 categories to enter overall and there were four or five finalists in each category. All finalists will meet with three independent judges for each category on 18th October at the Awards’ Judging Day at the Hilton London Metropole. For more information and all categories, please visit http://nmt-magazine.co.uk/nursery-awards/awards/

Winners of the NMT Nursery Awards 2019 will be presented with their trophies at the high profile Gala Night held on Saturday 30th November 2019 at the London Hilton Metropole, attended by over 500 guests.


Settings fight back in the war against plastic

Settings fight back in the war against plastic

An increasing number of nurseries are signing up to a scheme to help them eliminate single-use plastics from their businesses.

The scheme, run by environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage, has been growing in popularity and already has 104 settings signed up to it. Participants are given 5 objectives which are designed to fit alongside the EYFS framework.

Tops Day Nursery in Havant was the first nursery to achieve ‘plastic-free’ status under the scheme.

A spokesperson from Surfers Against Sewage said: “We are delighted at the growing interest from nurseries making a commitment to eradicate single-use plastic from their settings. Through developing the programme to work alongside the EYFS framework, we are able to help nurseries across the country to introduce the issue of single-use plastic to nursery children and their families and encourage them to be a driving force for change.”

A nursery in Chester, Jigsaw Curzon House, has also achieved the coveted status.

Claire Taylor, owner and manager of Jigsaw Curzon House, said: “The decision to sign up this programme was taken on two levels. First, we believe that it is critical that we educate our children on the importance of caring for our environment and the steps we need to take in order to achieve this. We already had a number of internal initiatives under way and, thanks to one of our engaged parents who was aware of the work we had already undertaken, a recommendation led us to the programme.

“As a business with an ethical conscience, we want to ensure we are doing all we can to create a sustainable future for our children. Across our two nurseries we educate more than 250 young people a day and interact with around 500 parents weekly, which means our power to influence in a positive way is quite significant. This is a responsibility we have taken seriously and attempted to harness for a number of years.”

Ms Taylor added that the programme has been well received by everyone involved including children, staff and parents.

To achieve the plastic-free status across two settings in the group, Jigsaw Curzon House had to take part in several initiatives including:

  • Swapping out plastic milk cartons for glass bottles. This had a ‘significant’ impact on the amount of single-use plastic, as the group orders 120 pints a week for both sites.
  • Using washable aprons rather than single-use plastic ones.
  • Replacing cling film with resealable containers.
  • Not ordering single-use plastic materials for crafts, such as glitter.
  • Giving out hessian bags to parents to encourage them to stop using plastic ones.


To find out more, visit: https://www.sas.org.uk/plastic-free-schools




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