SEND parent participation survey results

Since 2016 we haven’t had a parent carer forum in Barnsley. A parent carer forum is a group of parents and carers of disabled children who work with local authorities, education settings, health providers and other providers. They make sure the services they plan and deliver meet the needs of disabled children and families. There is also a regional and national network of parent carer forums but Barnsley is not represented. Parent carer forums receive a grant from central government of up to £15,000. Without a parent carer forum, parents and carers in Barnsley aren't able to benefit from this grant. Over 50% of parent carer forums nationally also receive funding from other sources.

There are several thousand parents and carers in Barnsley whose children have SEND and whose voices need to be heard. Our proposal is to ask an expert independent group to help to support all parents and carers to become more involved in Barnsley. This will help us to make sure that the way we work to support the children and young people with SEND and their families is better informed. It will take into account the views of parents, children and young people going forward.

We asked parents and carers for their views on this idea through a survey we launched on our consultation portal on 15 November 2017. We wrote to parents and carers about this in early December. The deadline for responses was 7 January 2018.

What you said

Thank you to all those parents who sent us their views; we had 112 responses. 65% of parents who responded (73) said they were fully supportive of the idea to appoint an independent group. This will help parents and carers to work more closely together with decision makers.

In combination, the percentage of responses which expressed a willingness to become involved in the creation and/or operation of the new participation group was 42%.

Some 15% (17) of parents did not support the proposal and 19% (22) said they didn’t know if they supported it or not. Some of the comments given by parents include:

  • “No. It is a ploy to move professional services to a cheap cost cutting alternative run by volunteers.”
  • "I feel it is beneficial for parents to be involved as it helps to talk to others who understand.”
  • “Waste of money. Who will pay for it? It is an attempt to manipulate opinions excluding the many for the few. It is about impressing at an inspection.”
  • “Delivering service provision should be the job of professionals….previous parent partnership was good and should not have got rid of it.”
  • “I think parent participation happens most of the time but on a small scale with the council working as individuals with the parents to get their child sorted.”
  • “Would like more information about type of organisations capable of doing this.”
  • “There are no organisations with the expertise to drive this forward.”

In response to these comments we'd like to emphasise that, as already stated, parent carer forums are run by parents and carers. They're supported through a grant of up to £15,000 from central government. In addition, over 50% attract funding from other sources.

Contact is the national group commissioned by the Department for Education to support parent carer forums. In their 16/17 annual report, Contact have indicated that whilst most parent carer forums are independent groups. Around a quarter are supported by a voluntary group.

Survey results

Q1. How involved do you feel parents and carers are now in helping to shape what happens in Barnsley for SEND children and young people ?

Answer Number of responses % of all survey responses
a. Parents and carers are involved all the time 4 3.57%
b. Parents and carers are involved most of the time 12 10.71%
c. Parents and carers are involved some of the time 59 52.68%
d. Parents and carers are not involved at all 36 32.14%
No response 1 0.89%

Q2. Which aspects are most important for parents and carers to influence ?

Answer Number of responses % of all survey responses
a. Influencing plans and strategies that affect all services and the whole borough (such as the Children and Young People's Plan) 85 75.89%
b. Influencing plans and strategies that affect certain service areas only (such as short breaks or home to school transport) 57 50.89%
c. Working with managers and practitioners to influence operating policies and procedures (such as transition planning from children's to adult services) 75 66.96%
No response 1 0.89%

Q3. Do you support the appointment of an independent organisation to help parents and carers to work more closely together with decision makers ?

Answer Number of responses % of all survey responses
a. Yes, I am fully supportive 73 65.18%
b. No, I don't support this 17 15.18%
c. I don't know 22 19.64%
No response 0 0.00%

Q4. If you have answered 'No, I don't support this' to the previous question, please say why

21 comments were received, the comments and responses can be found on the consultation responses document below.

Q5. Would you like to be involved? If so, please tick all the boxes that apply

Answer Number of responses % of all survey responses
a. I would like to help to develop the service specification 33 29.46%
b. I would like to be involved in choosing the successful organisation 28 25.00%
c. I would like to work with the new organisation to help shape participation in Barnsley 32 28.57%
d. I don't want to be involved now but please keep me updated 56 50.00%
No response 13 11.61%

Q6. Please provide your name and contact details below so we can talk to you about being involved or keep you updated in the development of this proposal

49 responses were received of which 12 included comments on the survey, the 12 comments and responses can be found on the consultation responses document below.

If you'd like to know more about what parents and carers told us through the survey you can find the full list of comments here.

What we'll do now

We're beginning to make contact with those parents who have said they'd like to work with us to develop the service specification. They will be involved in the selection of the group who will work with us and parents and carers in Barnsley.

In February we will invite expressions of interest from groups to work with us.

In early March we'll evaluate the expressions of interest with parents and invite potential organisations to meet with us and parents to explain how they can help.

By the end of March we hope to be able to appoint the successful organisation with a view to them starting their work in April.

What you need to do

If you've not already given us your contact details through the survey and would like to support our work in the future, please let us know by emailing You can also complete the survey and post it to the Head of Service for Commissioning, Governance and Partnerships. The address for this is Corporate Mailroom, Gateway Plaza, Sackville Street, Barnsley, S70 9GG.