Nottingham City Parent Carer Forum
Nottingham City’s parent carer forum (NCPCF) was set up under the governments’ transformation programme ‘Aiming High for Disabled Children’ (AHDC) in 2009. This programme led to the landmark reforms in the UK – Children and Families Act 2014 (CFA 2014). Part 3 of the Act relates to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Section 19 particularly provides the legal requirements of local authorities “to have regard to supporting a child or their parents to achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes.” in part (d) of Section 19.
The forum was set up under the Parent Partnership Service and was hosted alongside a parent support group that met monthly at the Children’s Development Centre at the City Hospital. The hosting support group became Rainbow Parents Carers Forum and supported families from both Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire to be heard and achieve better outcomes. The forum is part of the National Network of Parent Carer Forums (NNPCF) made up of 152 forums – one for each local authority.
The Department for Education (DfE) funds the forum and the forum is mandated to be the voice of families in Nottingham City and to shape and influence local decision making by being a critical friend to the local authority. The ideal at the start of our journey was to get to the top of the participation ladder and more recently to be genuine equal partners and co-produce the services and support our community receives.
The forum has a steering group of volunteer parent carers who are the eyes and ears of our community and often members of other support groups across the city. They meet every second month to discuss what’s working well and less well and represent the views of the wider community. Additionally, some steering group members are paid to be parent representatives and attend local authority education, health and social care steering groups and work streams.
Co-production work streams
These can be local, regional or national and in October 2023 included the following:
Rainbow PCF has hosted 9 annual events since 2010 and guest speakers have included heads of local authority services, SEN specialists, including Stephen Broach SEN Barrister, members of our community and Maggie Atkinson, the Children’s Commissioner for England.
In 2019, Nottingham City Council adopted the ‘Genuine Partnerships’ values and this was launched at our annual event. The four cornerstones of ‘Genuine Partnerships’ can be applied to any setting and should form the baseline for how services interact with our community. Outcomes are improved when parents and professionals work together, recognising each other’s expert knowledge, to design, develop and improve services for children and young people with SEND in the local area.