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CEO of Wokingham Council explains changes to special needs policies

Published: 9 Mar 2014 09:300 comments

FAMILIES in Wokingham have learned about changes to policies for young people with special needs.

Phil Cullimore, Lucy Walton and Julie Monahan from Reach Wokingham, and Wokingham Borough Council chief executive Andy Couldrick at the family fun day.

Andy Couldrick, chief executive of Wokingham Borough Council, attended REACH Wokingham’s annual general meeting and fun day on Sunday to explain the changes to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

REACH is a voluntary group of parents, with children with different types of disabilities, meeting at locations across Wokingham Borough.

As part of the Gov-ernment’s Children and Families Bill 2013, there will be a new code of practice, personal budgets for those currently on a plan, all existing school categories will be replaced by a single one, and the introduction of a ‘local offer’ for parents.

The ‘offer’ will stipulate what services that schools can provide for children with SEND, and comes into force on September 1.

In addition, statements of special needs will be phased out and replaced by Education Health and Care Plans.

About 50 parents turned up for Sunday’s event at the Acorn Centre in Wokingham, which included a free lunch. Mr Couldrick said: “We are working through how to implement these changes and are working closely with REACH.

“I think it’s helpful they got to hear information about the changes.

“It was a great opportunity for them to meet other parents, and hear from myself and speak to my colleagues from the council about the changes that are being made.”

Judith Newman, chairwoman of REACH, said: “We need to get the message out there to all parents and raise awareness, because it will affect everyone who has children with special needs.

“The schools are getting more on board, but they’re changing the national curriculum at the same time, so that’s a worry.”

At Sunday’s event, there was also children’s entertainment, face painting and a prize draw.

The council is holding an information session about the local offer, on Thursday, March 13, at Cantley Lodge in Wokingham, from 9.30am-noon and 7- 9pm.

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