Action group for parents of children with SEND in north Northamptonshire hosts first conference

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The conference was held at Our Lady’s Catholic Social Club in Corby

A support group formed by parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities in north Northamptonshire held its first conference at the weekend.

The conference was held on Saturday, April 6, at Our Lady’s Catholic Social Club in Occupation Road, Corby, from 10am to 1pm.

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About 40 people attended who were all keen to share their education, health and care plan (EHCP) experiences and ask for advice from one another.

Group photo taken at the conferenceGroup photo taken at the conference
Group photo taken at the conference

It came two weeks after a damning Ofsted and CQC report into north Northamptonshire’s services for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities found children are being let down by 'widespread' and 'systemic failings'.

The meeting was held as an initial welcome and introduction. People who attended were introduced to the founders and heard from guest speakers.

Julie Heron, one of the group’s co-founders, said: “I’m really pleased, I think it went fantastic.

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“We had 40 people turn up, which I think is absolutely amazing for a Saturday morning. It was hard to finish because it overran. Parents' voices haven’t been heard for so long, they were desperate to share.

Labour parliamentary candidate for Corby, Lee Barron (left), and co-founder of North Northants SEND Action Group, Julie Heron (right)Labour parliamentary candidate for Corby, Lee Barron (left), and co-founder of North Northants SEND Action Group, Julie Heron (right)
Labour parliamentary candidate for Corby, Lee Barron (left), and co-founder of North Northants SEND Action Group, Julie Heron (right)

“I think we had a good mix of involving parents, but also with strategies moving forward, people from outside of the Northamptonshire area were speaking about things that they’ve used to make a difference.

“Also we made it really rounded, we had someone who was previously a SENDCO, we’re not trying to place blame with anybody here, we’re trying to make a real understanding of how we can take it forward.”

Many parents shared experiences of how their children have been left without an education for a number of years because there’s nothing in place for them with their special educational needs.

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The group was founded because there are so many parents who are struggling with this.

About eight weeks ago, Julie decided to make sure that they as parents were coming together as a collective, joining up with colleague Scott who had already set up a Facebook page.

Julie said: “It came about out of desperation I suppose, because we’re all sitting in silence thinking we’re the only one so it’s just a collective really to get us all together.”

Moving forward, those that attended the meeting were set a task to identify three things they want the local authority to start doing, three things they want them to stop doing, and three things they want them to continue.

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Julie said: “From that, we will look at the data, we will put it together and we will have a proper strategy as to how we are going to present that and move it forward at a local level to make the change.

“One of the big things for me is that we should be able to sit on the panel when our children are being spoken about with educational healthcare plans, because so much is done behind closed doors in secret.”

The North Northants SEND action group have been working together with Cllr Mark Pengelly (Lab, Lloyds) and Lee Barron, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Corby and East Northants. Both attended, with Cllr Pengelly opening the meeting and Lee Barron closing it.

Addressing the conference at the end, Lee Barron said: “People are losing time, and you can’t turn around and say three years on ‘sorry we got that one wrong, here’s your three years back’ – it’s lost and that’s why it’s an emergency in my opinion.

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“I don’t really care who you vote for and whether or not you vote for me, all I can assure you is, I’m going to use this journey, and I might not be elected, and if I’m not it’s about putting as much pressure as we can on. If I am, it’s about shaping the change that we need so no-one has to go through what you’ve gone through.

“That’s the point that I’ll keep on making and we’re going to shape that future.”

Lee also said he would arrange for some shadow ministers to come and meet with parents and listen to the stories they have to tell, so that Labour can ‘shape the policies we need for the future’.

To find out more information visit the group’s Facebook page or If you have any queries, email [email protected].

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