“For my son, his EHCP is the basis for his development and so it must be right”
Most of us can count on one hand the spine tingling moments that we remember. Well, our interview with parent and Co-Chair of Stockton-On-Tees Parent Carer Forum (PCF), Emma Zenaj, is one of those.
As Educational Psychologists, SEND practitioners and parents ourselves, there’s nothing more compelling than hearing about the impact Invision360 is having on families.
Our EHCP audit tool has been created collaboratively to ensure that the voice of the child, and by extension the family, is at the heart of everything we do. That’s why we wholeheartedly encourage direct engagement with Parent Carer Forums, as Stockton-On-Tees has.
So when PCF Co-Chair, Emma told us that it means “everything” to her and many other families to have an up-to-date high quality EHCP, we were keen to learn more.
Emma, as a parent, what does it mean to your child to have an up to date and high quality EHCP?
Put simply, everything. For my son, his EHCP is the basis for his education and his development and so it must be right.
My son has had an EHCP in place for just over a year and he is now in school every day. He is thriving because his needs are being met. Prior to that he had severe mental health conditions that were unmanageable. We were experiencing constant battles with his school attendance because the learning environment was not meeting his needs, which was having a negative impact on his home life and sleep. Where we are now, with his needs being understood and met, is a million miles away from where we were. In a large part, this is due to having the right EHCP in place.
What are the benefits in using a tool that’s standardised and benchmarked against other local authorities?
My experience with Invision360’s online EHCP tool is that is effortlessly standardises everything. The tool is across the board. It’s not just within the local authority, it covers health and social care as well.
It must be a priority for everyone who’s involved – from directors to little old me representing the voice of parents at the Parent Carer Forum. We’re all part of the process. It’s identifying, as a collective, how everyone must strengthen their approach to EHCPs.
To put it into perspective, it’s very easy to sit around a table and discuss the issues with EHCPs. However, until you’ve completed one, and I mean seen one through, it’s difficult to comprehend the complexities of it.
Invision360’s EHCP audit tool enables everyone involved to take a very different approach. When auditing, people can see for themselves what improvements need to be made. Rather than people sitting together saying this is bad or not great, we have firm evidence of where the need is and what the issues are. From there, we address any knowledge gaps and training requirements.
For me personally, I know that in reaching out to parents, the tool is being used and is having a positive impact. I am glad that the Parent Carers Forum is so proactively involved. Using Invision360, I am able to look at EHCPs from the perspective of the parent, help identify issues and see where improvements have been made.
For parents and carers, this is the important part. Invision360 is doing what it should be doing, improving the quality and timeliness of EHCPs. We are constantly identifying where change needs to happen and able to see the impact. It’s a continuous process.
What are the benefits of Education, Health and Social Care all using the same tool?
The main benefit is consistency. Everyone is using the tool with the same understanding and knowledge on what constitutes a good EHCP.
Using the tool myself, the prompts are really helpful. As a parent, I don’t need massive amounts of training about EHCPs. I suppose that’s one thing that we have as a parent – we experience EHCPs from a different perspective to those working in health and social care. However, everyone is working to the same criteria when quality assessing plans to overcome any bias.
It’s easy to refer to the criteria at each step and you soon know if something is amiss as the tool alerts you.
Are you reassured to know that Stockton is proactively improving EHCP systems and processes?
Yes, it makes me feel reassured. As a parent, I think something urgently needed to be done. I know that a lot of parents and carers within Stockton were unhappy with the quality of EHCPs. So much so that many have attempted to navigate how to create EHCPs themselves, even down to what words should be included. Thankfully, we’re on the right path now.
Having that spotlight of checking the quality of EHCPs and learning from it can only make improvements going forward. I really hope, from speaking to colleagues using the tool, it has been an eyeopener for them to see the process and what’s involved. I think that’s been a huge benefit.
What hopes do you have for the future of EHCPs at Stockton?
For the future, I hope that we will have more satisfied parents and carers and that ultimately children’s needs will be better met. After all, the quality of EHCPs and the understanding of what needs to be in them will be more meaningful.
My hope is that all children will receive the right provision, their needs will be met, and we’ll all be able to see that impact on them within the family, and society. But more so within their confidence and their growth. We certainly have the right tool at our disposal to make it happen!