Parent Carer Forum

Empower and enable your voices to be heard

Welcome to Southampton Parent Carer Forum


Emergency Contact details for SEND Service

Instructions from Tammy Marks are to check the most recent updates on social media and the Local Offer in the first instance, but the number below is if you need to discuss urgent specific detail about your individual situation  – 

Email address


02380 833013

Link to Local Offer –

Contact your assessment coordinator if you are undergoing EHCP assessment.

Please bear in mind, that resource is heavily impacted at this time and there may be waiting times for responses etc. 

Thank you 

Please share with all SEND families and support groups/local groups and services.


SEND and COVID-19 Update – 25th March 

Facebook SEND Live with Tammy Marks 25th March 2020

Please find below key points and notes in respect of the Facebook Live around SEND/COVID-19 on 25th March.  This video is a permanent post on the Facebook page that can be re-watched etc.  Direct link above.

  • All SEND officers currently working from home – where possible, but have reduced capacity – so try to only contact if urgent – try Facebook/internet first.


  • Children’s and Families Act – Code of Practice has to go for an amendment as the Local Authority cannot currently fulfil things from the act. This means things that are ‘should’ will become ‘endeavours’ over the coming weeks/months. Unsure of when this will happen.


  • The Local Authority have never decided to close special schools. However, part closures had to take place due to staffing or symptoms in children and this meant provision. Children with EHCP are classified of vulnerable – but within that there is a hierarchy of need – so if parents are key workers or if they are vulnerable – child in need they get priority. We cannot keep all children at school as this wouldn’t meet Government requirements.


  • Who to contact from SEND if there is an urgent query – team manager and assistant team manager will go on Facebook.


  • There are currently 1700 Education, Health and Care Plans in the City and only ten SEND officers currently.


  • Parent Carer forum do not have legal training to answer SEND questions and things are changing daily to meet government requirements, so the SPCF are fielding questions, they will not have all the answers.


  • Panels for special schools have mostly already taken place. The Springwell panel is more than one panel meeting, networks failing and diversion of capacity means it is not happening. Springwell decisions should be issued, alongside Primary offers – potentially 16th April. However, this cannot be guaranteed as they need to be done virtually and with staff.


  • Timescales for school closures? See this as a transition rather than a short-term change. 


  • School closures will be reviewed monthly – so it is unlikely it will be before the summer. The LA know as much as we do from whatever the daily Government press conferences.


  • Educational Psychiatrist assessments will be attempted to be continued and within timescales if the EP has seen the child. However, if child has not been observed by the EP then parents could have a remote assessment – EP talks to professionals and parents or the assessment will be delayed. Tammy recommended a remote assessment followed by an early annual review, when additional information or tweaking of the plan can be finalised, once back to school. Code of Practice make allowances for LA to extend timescales when schools are closed. Any other EP meetings/observations will not go ahead.


  • All schools are closed, but if you are a key worker without another to look after child they can go to school. Springwell is closed to most children unless this applies – or if they are EHCP and vulnerable – e.g. social care involved or vulnerable as most children safer at home.


  • Children falling behind academically – a common feeling for more parents, parents can only do what they can do. Use links from schools but go easy, it is not the structure on of a school. Develop a timetable – but it does not need to be all academic work, just structure. Parents do not have to be teachers, everyone will be in the same position. Even children at school are not getting a usual education, it is more like a summer school with mixed year groups.


  • Cedar school has closed as families did not want to attend, so instead key workers are checking in with families.


  • Independent Specialist Schools – an officer is looking specifically at this most schools are remaining open for as many pupils who are willing. However, under new guidance there has been a reduction in the number of children going. Naming Independent schools on draft EHCP’s is unclear currently as LA cannot consult with them.


  • Free School Meals – same for everyone, still waiting for a clear directive form government about what will happen if school kitchens cannot open to supply them. Lots of food wastage currently as those that qualify are not collecting them – this is being redistributed. The Local Authority are working with schools on this as vouchers may be given instead.


  • New EHCP applications for assessments – if received before midday on 17th March, will accepted and be reviewed remote panels to make decision on whether there will be an assessment within 6 weeks. New applications cannot be processed currently.


  • Emergency school places – if a school is unable to cater for 1:1 for a child should the school have to find an alternative provision? Depends on the needs of the child and how they respond to change. Parent should contact Headteacher to discuss this. If unsatisfied, let Tammy know and she will review this. Currently the Local Authority have supported schools in all cases.


  • How long after a panel will paperwork be sent out? Lots of phases to this and challenging as not in the office to print & send things out. Things will be sent via email with encrypted passwords.


  • Where possible children will attend their local/usual school. However, as managing staff and resources becomes more difficult and schools have had to close, then children are sent to alternative schools. Consistent staffing is almost impossible. Schools are splitting staff into groups so that if one group gets the virus another group can come in and teach. Senior leaderships is also split for this reason. Schools are having to react daily to staffing/pupils in as people get ill so each day things will keep changing.


  • Children identified by Jigsaw will not all be offered a school place. Those on child protection/vulnerable If families don’t take up places and staffing at school allows it, the next layer of priority families will be offered – it may even be just a day a week.


  • Easter Holidays play schemes at Rose Road and Mencap will open play schemes but with low numbers – families with key workers will be prioritised. If more than the take up can be accommodated then Jigsaw families may be offered spaces next.


  • Home-schooling GCSE exams – how were they going to take exams? Look at exams boards and take exams in September? More information is needed to answer this.


  • Exam results will be a combination of teacher assessment and mock exams. Teacher is responsible for submitting their assessments and the evidence. The exam board will then assess what the grade should be.


  • Can Direct Payments be used to pay family members for care while respite isn’t happening? Families should not be going to other people’s houses to do this. We will need to return to this, but currently no. Jigsaw will have to discuss this with the LA.


  • Tribunals are going to continue virtually, but there may be some delays if people are ill.


  • School holiday support/respite care will need to be balance due to keeping numbers low and shortage on staffing. Families should expect a reduction in this, so families will need to hang in there with it. Genuine concerns should go to social workers. There will always be a conflict between families and services, but we are asking families to think about other families and their needs.


  • We know when our kids return to school it will be challenging for our children and we will have to work carefully with individuals to manage this.


  • Access as much support as you can for your own mental health. Use video conferencing to keep in touch.


  • Jigsaw families will be contacted shortly to clarify what they can expect from them now.


  • List of who to contact will be sent out via the forum – but for emergencies only.


  • The next Facebook Live is scheduled for Wednesday 1st April at 7pm. Please email your questions to


Important – PLEASE READ – 23rd March 2020

We are receiving numerous messages from families regarding individual situations regarding Education, Health and Care Plans, school places, the newly introduced Coronavirus Bill, the situation with the cancellation of all exams and many more.

Just a reminder that the forum cannot answer questions that need to be addressed directly by the SEND Service Team.

We have been in contact with Tammy Marks (SEND Service Manager) from Southampton City Council this morning and she will share more information about who to contact early this week.

There is also the Facebook Live hosted by Tammy, taking place on Wednesday 25th March at 7pm. Tammy will update as much as possible in this session. Please email your questions to and we will ask Tammy to respond to these within the live session.  Just to clarify, this session will not address individual situations/queries or questions, these need to be addressed directly with the SEND Service Team privately.  Details to follow shortly as to who you need to contact in order for queries to be answered etc.

Here’s the link to the Facebook page –

Please bear with us and with the SEND Service Team, as you can imagine, resource is being heavily impacted at present.

It is also important to remember, that the forum has one part-time employee who is managing the Facebook page, mailing list and other communications/workload and the rest of the team are all volunteers.  And we are all parent/carers who have caring responsibilities.

We completely understand that everyone is very scared and concerned about the situation that is developing, as are we.

Everyone is working really hard to get information out as soon as possible and we thank you for your support.

Here’s the link to the Southampton City Council, Local Offer page with various updates as they are announced etc –

Take care, keep safe, keep calm and #bekind ❤️

COVID-19 UPDATE – 19th March 2020 

All strategic and working group meetings with all parties (Southampton City Council, CCG, NHS etc) have been cancelled along with all coffee mornings until after the Easter Holidays.  As I’m sure you are aware, this is due to social distancing measures in line with Government advice.

The forum is as normal working from home and if you have any questions or need any help regarding anything forum related, please email

If you see any articles of use to our families, please feel free to share on our Facebook page and we will also continue to share anything we feel of use etc.

We hope to get things back on track as soon as possible and the situation is changing everyday so keep an eye on our Facebook page, mailing list and website for further updates.

In the meantime, here’s some links to online support groups that can offer a means of speaking to other parent/carers in a time where life can seem a bit daunting and isolated. – Reminds support group – Asperger’s Adventures, Minecraft and Meltdowns – Flutterbies support Group – Natter Chatter Support Group – Corona virus community support group for SO postcodes


Take care of you and your family and friends, wash your hands, keep safe and speak soon

Claire and the SPCF Team

We are a friendly group of parent carers who have children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities aged 0-25 years. We support and train parent carers to enable them to have input and be involved with shaping services alongside the professionals who provide health, education, adult and social services. Our shared mission is to improve and enhance the experiences and opportunities of children and young people with additional needs by enabling parents and carers to be heard and be at the heart of decisions about development and delivery of services in Southampton. The forum will represent the views of the collective community and not an individual voice. The role of the forum is not to advocate for individual families and will signpost to specialist services.

Short Breaks Service/The Buzz Network with effect from 1st April 2019

To find out more about the new Short Breaks Service/The Buzz Network, here are some useful links:-

Please find below links to find out more about registering your child with the Short Breaks Service and how to access the service –

The Max Card

and The Short Breaks Statement detailing the service and the eligibility criteria that applies

One of the providers that offer sessions via the Short Breaks Service is Activenation.  They offer SEND active sessions for children aged 4-19 years and the majority of sessions cost £3 (some sessions are more expensive depending on the activity).  You will need to present your Max Card at the session.  Please see table below confirming the session dates and timings.  Some of the sessions/activities will be interchangeable on a 10 week rolling contract so keep an eye out for any changes to the session activity and timings etc.

Here’s the link to their Facebook page, please like the page to keep in the loop with any changes or cancellation of sessions etc.

PTSA Inclusion Conference 2019

11th January 

We were delighted to be invited to present at the PTSA Inclusion Conference last week.  The conference is aimed at Education, Local Authority and Health staff in the local area.  Myself and one of our Steering Group (Gill Waring) presented a workshop about the forum, what we do and how we feel about inclusion for our children and young people.

It was a truly fantastic day, great turnout and we were very fortunate to meet and talk to Chris Packham and his beloved Scratchy, after his amazing keynote speech.

One for the wall we think 🙂

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