Three students from Nescot Early Years Foundation Degree, visited the House of Lords to contribute to an All Parliamentary Party Group for Children, which took place on 15th October 2012. Michelle Williamson, Sioban Lister and Jo Turner were participating in cross-party sessions run by Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, who come together to discuss aspects of the well-being of the nation’s children. The group brings together campaign groups, charities, and other non-governmental organisations, providing them with a platform to build awareness, raise issues and become involved in discussions that have the potential to influence politicians and parliamentary decisions.
The debate focussed on Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Disabilities Reform chaired by Baroness Massey. Edward Timpson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (children and families) was there as were several opposition MP’s, hereditary peers and Sir Brian Rix, President of the Royal Mencap Society. During the debate there were impassioned pleas from disabled young people and campaign groups to recognise their ability to inform the national changes taking place and pending new SEN legislation.
The team felt that the voice of the early years sector was missing from the debate and were unable to ask a direct question due to time running out but they are not going to leave it there, and are in the process of submitting a formal written question to Edward Timpson, at the Department of Education regarding early years support for children with complex needs.
The students are also liaising with SEN pathfinders in order to find out if our experiences in Surrey match those in other areas. Hopefully their input will be included in any calls for evidence when the time comes to finalise the forth coming SEN practice guidance.