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Westlake Legal Group > Education (Page 5)

Local Falls Church teacher wins $5,000 classroom makeover—see the photos here

Earlier this year, Lakeshore Learning, a retailer of educational materials, launched the Schoolgirl Style Make Over My Classroom Content, and received entries from 2,000 teachers across the country—and a local Falls Church teacher came out on top.

Katherine Bryant, a first-grade teacher at Westlawn Elementary School, is the winner, and recently had her classroom completely redesigned for the upcoming school year. Teachers who entered the contest had to submit essays that described why they needed a decor makeover and how they create inspiring learning environment for students, as well as a “before” classroom photo.

The prize package, valued at $5,000, included decor from Schoolgirl Style collections, select teaching supplies, furniture pieces and decorative accents. The classroom’s interior was also painted new blue shade. See the before and after photos, below.

Westlake Legal Group classroom-before Local Falls Church teacher wins $5,000 classroom makeover—see the photos here westlawn elementary school teachers schools Family falls church Education
Bryant’s classroom before the redesign. (Photo courtesy of Lakeshore Learning)

 

Westlake Legal Group Classroom-Before-2 Local Falls Church teacher wins $5,000 classroom makeover—see the photos here westlawn elementary school teachers schools Family falls church Education
A look at Bryant’s “before” classroom. (Photo courtesy of Lakeshore Learning)

 

Westlake Legal Group hello-sunshine Local Falls Church teacher wins $5,000 classroom makeover—see the photos here westlawn elementary school teachers schools Family falls church Education
After the redesign, Bryant’s classroom is full of color. (Photo courtesy of Lakeshore Learning)

 

Westlake Legal Group Katherine-and-Melanie Local Falls Church teacher wins $5,000 classroom makeover—see the photos here westlawn elementary school teachers schools Family falls church Education
Katherine Bryant (left) and Melanie Ralbusky of Schoolgirl Style (Photo by Lakeshore Learning)

 

Westlake Legal Group we-are-a-rainbow Local Falls Church teacher wins $5,000 classroom makeover—see the photos here westlawn elementary school teachers schools Family falls church Education
Bryant’s new classroom is full of inspiring phrases and colors for the 2019-2020 school year. (Photo courtesy of Lakeshore Learning)

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Don’t miss this summer’s pop-up library at Ballston Quarter

Westlake Legal Group Pop-Up-FEATURE Don’t miss this summer’s pop-up library at Ballston Quarter Things to Do Features reading Pop-Up Library library family friendly Family Education children ballston quarter arlington
Photo courtesy of Ballston BID

Finding a good book at the mall doesn’t just have to be from the bookstore. It can now be from your local library thanks to a new pop-up library at Ballston Quarter.

According to the Director of the Department of Libraries in Arlington, Diane Kresh, the creation (the third of its kind by the Arlington Public Library) is all about adapting to change and “meeting people where they are.”

“We assume that for all kinds of reasons, not everyone goes to a traditional brick-and-mortar library,” Kresh says. “There are people stopping at the pop-up that don’t even know that less than a mile away is a central library.”

The former retail space is now open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (except on Fridays) until Aug. 2, and has a handful of amenities for visitors to enjoy.

Visitors can sign up for a library card, browse a stock of popular-interest and children’s books or just kick back and use one of the space’s charging stations for digital devices.

According to Kresh, the pop-up library is showcasing how libraries on a larger scale are allowing public access to services that go beyond just lending out books.

“We are very conscious about how people are using the public space of the library,” Kresh says. Many come to the permanent locations in the area for a quiet place to study and a place to charge a laptop, while others stop by and conduct most of their interactions through the library app once they leave.

That’s why locations like this one, even if temporary, make people aware of the ways the library can become a frequent and reliable resource, no matter what they’re looking for.

“Some local libraries are always really busy because they’re right in the middle of the community [literally], but this way we have another location that can see the library and add it to their daily life tasks,” Kresh says. “You can stop by and get out of the heat, find a comfy chair and read a book.”

And the kids can enjoy it, too.

Kresh is hoping that local children find the library to be a fun, educational and safe space. That’s why local children can also sign up for the library’s 2019 Summer Reading Challenge, when they visit. Children are eligible to earn prizes after 25 days of reading, including tickets to a Washington Nationals game.

“We push reading because it’s something that you can enjoy lifelong,” Kresh says. “It’s fundamental. Even if you’re older, you can still enjoy it.”

And ever since the opening, Kresh has noticed its impact when spending just a few minutes in the space.

“When I was visiting just the other day, there were two young women with their babies there, and they were having a great moment,” Kresh says.

Aside from browsing the collection of books or charging up a cell phone, visitors can also experience Alterspace, a collaborative project with Harvard University’s metaLAB that offers an immersive nook where users can control light, color, sound and space to create their ideal environment for reading. It’s the project’s first location outside of Massachusetts.

As for the library continuing the pop-up beyond early August, Kresh is unsure if it’s term will be extended. But she does know one thing about the Arlington Public Library and its community initiatives: “We are always there and we’re here for everybody,” Kresh says. // Ballston Quarter: 4238 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; free

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Growing Patriot Podcast: No Taxation Without Representation

New episode of the Growing Patriot Podcast for kids!

Britain had to pay for the French and Indian War and, through things like the Stamp Act, were raising taxes on American Colonists to do it. The colonists didn’t think it was fair that they could be taxed when their voices weren’t even being heard by the British- they weren’t being represented. The cry of “no taxation without representation” took hold in the American Colonies, and the idea that people deserved to be heard by their government was one that would change the world.

To listen to the episode and find other resources like coloring pages for kids, click here.

For the episode alone, click below.

The post Growing Patriot Podcast: No Taxation Without Representation appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group GP_Facebook_1-300x171 Growing Patriot Podcast: No Taxation Without Representation Taxes Taxation Tax Podcast no taxation without representation History growing patriots Front Page Stories Featured Story Education Allow Media Exception   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Tucker Carlson: There’s a Greater Admissions Scandal at America’s Universities, and It Involves Prominent Democrats

Westlake Legal Group tucker-carlson-democrats-college-admission-SCREENSHOT-620x328 Tucker Carlson: There’s a Greater Admissions Scandal at America’s Universities, and It Involves Prominent Democrats yale washington D.C. university Uncategorized Tucker Carlson Politics Meritocracy mario cuomo Front Page Stories Featured Story Education democrats Culture Congress college admissions scandal college Chris Cuomo Andrew Cuomo Academia

[Screenshot from Fox News, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhHH1AJtZ3Y]

 

You’ve most likely heard of the bribery/university enrollment controversy involving some of Hollywood’s recognizable faces (here and here). But earlier this week, FNC’s Tucker Carlson observed that the greater admissions scandal involves prominent Democrats.

Against a backdrop of Chris Cuomo working out, Tucker asked how the CNN star — who “can barely speak English” — got into Yale.

“There are nights when Cuomo emits entire paragraphs that mean nothing at all. Just pure gibberish. Like pig latin or dogs barking.”

Who’s Chris? He’s the dude who put down prayer and the prayerful (here). Additionally, he’s the brother of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who signed allowance for the murder of infants just seconds before birth (here) and claimed that America “was never great” (here).

The Fox host pondered:

“Is Chris Cuomo a secret genius? Does he have some amazing talent that’s invisible on TV? Maybe he speaks flawless Urdu? Or has a deep grounding in particle physics? Or can calculate pi to the final digit?. Actually, no — Chris Cuomo can’t do any of that. It turns out that he has an even more impressive qualification: His father was the governor of New York. If you want to get into a top American college, it’s best to have a parent who’s a well-known Democratic politician. That’s the most effective credential of all.”



Tucker’s list of the politically privileged whose offspring all got into exclusive schools included the following:

Bill and Hillary Clinton
Bill de Blasio (“the incompetent mayor of New York City”)
Sen. Michael Bennet
Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse
Sen. Bob Menendez
Sen. Chuck Schumer
Barack Obama

Subsequently, Tucker fingered the “sham” of earned access among the Democratic elite:

“How does this happen? Because our meritocracy is a sham. It’s fake. They tell you that only the most accomplished students get into these schools. They’re lying. Their friends’ kids get first dibs. Fellow members of their social circle. Kids whose families can help them down the road. The children of sympathetic politicians are an obvious priority for admissions officers. These are the same politicians who funnel many billions in tax dollars to colleges and universities every year. Letting a senator’s kid into Harvard is smart business. The quid quo pro is obvious. It’s a form of unregulated lobbying.”

Interesting point. It reminds me of a response I heard when the Tinseltown admissions story first broke — “Why didn’t they just do like all the other rich and famous parents: make a donation and bribe the school that way?”

With the more conventional method, as noted by the cable king, no one ends up in the slammer:

Remember the varsity blues scandal in California, where a group of socially-anxious soccer moms tried to game college admissions? This is far more corrupt, except nobody’s going to prison for it.”

Tucker sure knows how to get across a message.

Watch him go in the video above.

-ALEX

 

Relevant RedState links in this article: herehere, and here

See 3 more pieces from me:

In Protest Of Washington’s Radical New Sanctuary Law, ICE Releases A List Of Atrocities That Resulted From Sanctuary Policies

Man Gets Interrogated By Police For Liking A ‘Transphobic’ Limerick On Twitter – It’s Recorded As A ‘Hate Incident’

‘Thank You God, Somebody Is Here’ – Inspiring Bodycam Footage Shows Police Officer Rescue Toddler & Grandmother From Inferno

Find all my RedState work here.

And please follow Alex Parker on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you for reading! Please sound off in the Comments section below. 

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The post Tucker Carlson: There’s a Greater Admissions Scandal at America’s Universities, and It Involves Prominent Democrats appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group tucker-carlson-democrats-college-admission-SCREENSHOT-300x159 Tucker Carlson: There’s a Greater Admissions Scandal at America’s Universities, and It Involves Prominent Democrats yale washington D.C. university Uncategorized Tucker Carlson Politics Meritocracy mario cuomo Front Page Stories Featured Story Education democrats Culture Congress college admissions scandal college Chris Cuomo Andrew Cuomo Academia   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Expecting a baby soon? Here are 5 locations for prenatal classes in NoVA

Westlake Legal Group Babies-Feature Expecting a baby soon? Here are 5 locations for prenatal classes in NoVA pregnant pregnancy Health Family Features Family Expectant Parents Education baby
Photo by Picsea

So you’ve read What to Expect When You’re Expecting but you’re still anxious.

The baby is on the way, but you want to make sure you’re still as prepared as you can possibly be. Luckily, there are a variety of classes designed to get out your pre-labor jitters and put all of your previous knowledge to good use.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, childbirth and infant skills classes can offer expecting parents confidence in their abilities, the opportunity to discuss their fears and concerns about labor or parenting skills, learn pain relief techniques and, at certain locations, tour the birthing facilities.

Here’s where to find local classes worth getting excited about, and leaving your anxiety behind.

Virginia Hospital Center
The Arlington hospital has a variety of classes to choose from for upcoming parents, focusing on topics like infant health and labor preparation. The Infant Skills class offers tips on infant safety, when to call the pediatrician, sleeping patterns, bathing, swaddling and more. Other classes include breastfeeding basics, sibling classes, child birth and prenatal classes, as well as gentle yoga sessions. The location also offers free hospital tours on weekends with a valid ID. // 1701 N. George Mason Drive, Arlington; prices vary

Momease
This organization is dedicated to offering practical information and evidence-based parenting classes to the Northern Virginia community, backed by a board of medical advisers, certified child birth educators and lactation consultants. Classes are held at two different locations, and include topics such as child birth, hypnobirthing (a practice of breathing exercises, relaxation, visualization and meditative practice) and single-mom child birth. Some topics require weekly attendance to complete. // Rosslyn location: 1001 19th St. N., Suite 1200, Arlington; DC location: MedStar Washington Hospital Center: 110 Irving St. NW, Washington, DC; prices vary

Reston Hospital Center
Just pulling into the hospital before labor can cause a lot of anxiety, but getting used to being in the facility and speaking with the knowledgeable staff who work there can be comforting to new parents. That’s why the Reston Hospital Center offers educational classes on labor signs, when to call the doctor and postpartum recovery, with sessions on the correct way to perform infant CPR and baby care basics. Still have questions beyond the curriculum? The on-site birth navigator, Shannon Longendyke, can answer any questions you might have. This location also offers one-hour tours of the facilities for expecting parents. // Reston Hospital Center: 1850 Town Center Parkway, Reston; prices vary

INOVA
Finding time in a busy schedule to carve out several hours for a birthing class can be stressful enough. Thankfully, INOVA offers both in-person and online classes on everything you may need to know before the big day. Topics include understanding pregnancy, understanding cesarean birth, baby care for fathers, the first year and beyond, as well as a classes on twins, triplets and more. The location doesn’t just offer convenient classes, it also has a New Moms Return to Work group and other support groups, all of which are free and offer new mothers the opportunity to share experiences, get support and make new local connections. // 8110 Gatehouse Road, Falls Church; prices vary

Sun & Moon Yoga Studio
So, you’ve tried your best to absorb all of the necessary information about labor, when baby arrives and beyond, but you’re still looking for a great way to relieve some of the aches, pain and tension in your body. Several local locations offer prenatal yoga, but Sun & Moon offers classes twice a week where expectant mothers of all experience levels can learn ways to stay comfortable in their bodies during pregnancy, and use their breath to calm and steady their thoughts. Looking to get back into your practice once baby arrives? Yoga for You and the Baby is designed as a postpartum class that can strengthen and stretch your body with emphasis on how to feed, hold, lift and support your baby through daily life (as well as infant massage techniques!). // 3811 Lee Highway, Arlington; 9998 Main St., Fairfax; prices vary

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High School Students Give Autistic Classmate Graduation Ceremony ‘Miracle’

A high school graduation can be a loud, celebratory atmosphere with students and families cheering as names are called and graduates are handed their diploma’s. For a student with autism that has sensory issues, this could be a nightmare. At a high school in New York, they created a graduation atmosphere in which he would be comfortable to receive his diploma.

Here’s what Principal Lou Riolo said with a video of the event posted on YouTube:

An amazing thing took place at Carmel High School’s graduation. One of our students Jack Higgins was presented with his diploma. Jack graduated after 8 years. He is a wonderful member of our student community. Jack has autism and with that comes sensory issues. At graduation the student body and several thousand individuals were asked to not clap or cheer so Jack could participate. What followed was nothing short of a miracle. We shot for the moon but instead reached the stars.
Congratulations to the Carmel High School class of 2019. For graduating, sure, but mostly for being good humans. That’s far more important.

The post High School Students Give Autistic Classmate Graduation Ceremony ‘Miracle’ appeared first on RedState.

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Principal Who Refused to Say Holocaust is a “Factual, Historical Event” Gets New Job at District Level

In April of 2018, a parent e-mailed William Latson, Principal of Spanish River High School in Boca Raton, Florida, to ask him how the Holocaust would be taught at the school. His response was nothing short of shocking. Now, it appears he’s gotten an even cushier job.

He wrote that the school had “a variety of ways” of teaching students about the Holocaust. He went on to tell the parent that “The curriculum is to be introduced but not forced upon individuals as we all have the same rights but not all the same beliefs.”

Stunned, the parent responded asking him to clarify his remarks, seeing as the Holocaust is a factual, historical event. That isn’t up for debate. “Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened,” Latson replied. “And you have your thoughts, but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs.”

He continued:

I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee. I do allow information about the Holocaust to be presented and allow students and parents to make decisions about it accordingly.

When Latson’s comments became known to the school district, he was initially given counseling and told to expand his school’s holocaust curriculum, according to CBS News. He also visited the Holocaust Museum.

Latson later said in a statement:

I regret that the verbiage that I used when responding to an email message from a parent one year ago did not accurately reflect my professional and personal commitment to educating all students about the atrocities of the Holocaust. It is critical that, as a society, we hold dear the memory of the victims and hold fast to our commitment to counter anti-Semitism.

However, the public was not satisfied. On Monday, the school district announced that Latson would be removed from the school, as “his leadership has become a major distraction for the school community.”

In a statement, the district said:

It is out of an abundance of concern and respect for the students and staff of Spanish River Community High School that School District Administration has decided to reassign Principal William Latson effective immediately.

The bizarre thing? The Miami Herald reports that his reassignment is at the district level. Doesn’t that seem like a promotion? Taking him out of the school and putting him at the district level? Why would they move him out of the school and put him at the district level, where decisions are made?

We don’t know what the specific job is, so maybe not, but it seems pretty strange to me.

The post Principal Who Refused to Say Holocaust is a “Factual, Historical Event” Gets New Job at District Level appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group Webp.net-resizeimage-300x167 Principal Who Refused to Say Holocaust is a “Factual, Historical Event” Gets New Job at District Level teacher school principal holocaust Front Page Stories Florida Education Boca Raton anti-semitism anti-semite Allow Media Exception Academia   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

New Video Allegedly Reveals Planned Parenthood Instructing Teachers on How to Help Kids Hide Abortions From Their Parents

 

Westlake Legal Group our-watch-planned-parenthood-video-SCREENSHOT-620x341 New Video Allegedly Reveals Planned Parenthood Instructing Teachers on How to Help Kids Hide Abortions From Their Parents Uncategorized tim thompson sex education Sex Public Education Politics planned parenthood parental consent our watch murrieta school district LGBT john andrews Government gender identity Front Page Stories Featured Story Education democrats Culture children California Allow Media Exception aclu Academia Abortion

[Screenshot from Our Watch, https://www.ourwatchnow.com/videos]

 

Video footage from June 26th allegedly reveals the ACLU guiding teachers in the ways of new-wave sex ed and gender theory in conjunction with California public schools and Planned Parenthood. Also depicted — according to source Our Watch — is ACLU attorney Ruth Dawson counseling the molders of skulls full of mush on how to help kids get abortions without parents finding out.

Surely this is just what the founders of public education had in mind.

The instructional is part of a larger video by Our Watch documenting the explicit and indoctrinating sex ed being tossed at California’s youth.

John Andrews, whose a parent in the Murrieta School District, described some of that material:

“They talk about mutual masturbation. They discuss gender roles, the gender spectrum, and in the support materials … they take it even further. They discuss everything, topics like roleplaying for different genders, blood play, dental dams … fisting is mentioned. I mean, they mention it all. If I were to show that material to a child, I would be brought up on charges. But somehow our public schools are allowed to teach this to junior high and high school kids.”

During the meeting with educators, the woman identified by Our Watch as Ruth goes into detail about hiding student’s abortions from parents, calling the evasion to questions from moms and dads “more of an art than a science.” She coaches the teachers in the ways of avoidance.

As for a person’s sex, she offers this:

“So we have gender identity, which is a spectrum. Somebody can feel like they are a male, a man, a boy, or also other genders. The important thing to know here is that gender is a social construct.”

Our Watch released the video as part of its battle against socially-left propaganda in public schools.

As reported by The Daily Caller:

[Our Watch President Tim Thompson] says in the video that Planned Parenthood and the ACLU collaborated on both AB329 in 2016 and the Health Education Framework in May. AB329 requires school districts to ensure students take sex-ed and encourages students to push back on sexual topics with their parents – topics explored in the kindergarten through twelfth grade sex education curricula implemented in California schools.

“We don’t want our children exposed to some of these things they are showing, these pornographic, sexually explicit material. It has no place in the classroom. It’s not right, and it won’t be tolerated,” Thompson says.

The video is half an hour long. I could go into explicit detail here regarding some of the more salacious sexual content, but I’d rather not.

But it’s certainly worth a watch.

Please find the video here. Comments by (purportedly) ACLU attorney Ruth Dawson can be found at the 21:00 mark.

Particularly if you watch the video, I much appreciate your thoughts in the Comments section.

I just can’t understand why any of this is finding its way into our schools. In my view, school should be strictly limited to the teaching of academics. There should be no social engineering involved, be it Left or Right.

It seems to me that the entire notion of “education” is taking on a powerfully disturbing “re-education camp” kind of meaning, as children are being stolen from parents in the way of influence that is rightfully reserved for individual families.

If you can, watch the video. I look forward to hearing from you.

-ALEX

 

Relevant RedState links in this article: 

See 3 more pieces from me:

Find all my RedState work here.

And please follow Alex Parker on Twitter and Facebook.

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The post New Video Allegedly Reveals Planned Parenthood Instructing Teachers on How to Help Kids Hide Abortions From Their Parents appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group our-watch-planned-parenthood-video-SCREENSHOT-300x165 New Video Allegedly Reveals Planned Parenthood Instructing Teachers on How to Help Kids Hide Abortions From Their Parents Uncategorized tim thompson sex education Sex Public Education Politics planned parenthood parental consent our watch murrieta school district LGBT john andrews Government gender identity Front Page Stories Featured Story Education democrats Culture children California Allow Media Exception aclu Academia Abortion   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The Growing Patriot Podcast for Kids: The Trouble Begins

After the French and Indian War, Great Britain needed to raise money. They did that by taxing the American colonies- without giving colonists any say in it. Here comes trouble between Britain and the American Colonies, and the colonists’ favorite saying: “no taxation without representation.”
Click here to listen to the episode and find more resources like coloring pages, or click below for the episode.

The post The Growing Patriot Podcast for Kids: The Trouble Begins appeared first on RedState.

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Judy Terry: We need greater engagement and openness in Suffolk about Special Education Needs

Judy Terry is a marketing professional and a former local councillor in Suffolk.

What is SEND? It is an over-used acronym for children with ‘special educational needs and disabilities’ which fails to encapsulate the complexity and variety of issues having an impact on everyday lives, from childhood through to adulthood.

Last autumn, the Government announced an extra £250 million in funding for local authorities over the next two years; it also committed to a long-overdue review of SEND support. I can only hope it commissions research into the growth in the number of children affected, clarity on the various diagnoses, and how to ensure they lead fulfilling lives into maturity.

Having made this one of its top ten priorities, Suffolk County Council has established a new board to ‘hold officers to account’, following two damning reports on SEND services in the county by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in 2017 and January 2019. Although the board comprises councillors, members of the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), volunteers, and officers, it doesn’t appear to have anyone with first-hand knowledge of the day-to-day issues and how care is delivered.

I admit to having some sympathy with opposition councillors’ concerns that it is insufficiently independent, lacking ‘impartiality and transparency’; overseen by the Cabinet member and his deputy, whilst meeting only three times a year, will not be sufficient to make progress.

I recommended that they invite the Head of Suffolk’s largest primary, which also hosts specialist units, where I was the SEND governor, to join the task force because he has relevant experience managing one of the biggest cohorts, with ten per cent of the 660 pupils having special needs. Prior to his arrival, the only advice we could get, when governors were concerned about delivering relevant care, was from Essex County Council. So, his knowledge and positivity would be invaluable in addressing the essential improvements.

Immediately prior to its publication, Suffolk’s Cabinet responded to the latest report’s criticisms by announcing a £45 million package for new special schools in Ipswich, Lowestoft and Bury St. Edmunds, and 36 new specialist units at mainstream schools. Some external funding has been negotiated, but the implementation must be prioritised according to local need.

In continuing frustration at what they perceive to be a lack of progress, a group of cross-party councillors want a ‘fresh set of eyes’ on the problem, and have now just written to the county’s Chief Executive, calling for an independent ‘objective, transparent evaluation’ to improve services for children. Although that could inevitably delay implementing further improvements, greater engagement and openness would be a wise move, given that the council is the country’s first authority to fail inspection on two occasions, and loses 90 per cent of SEND cases taken to tribunal.

Concerns are clearly justified, when the latest report by officials who returned to assess progress in addressing ‘the areas of significant weakness detailed in the written statement of action issued in January 2017’ identified some improvements to just one of the four issues, tempered by insufficient progress.

  • Ineffective Governance and Leadership: has made some progress, developing strong partnerships with services and the Suffolk Parent Carer Network to design, plan and deliver services. But, communication and joint working have not yet improved enough.
  • Poor timeliness, integration, and quality of SEND statutory assessment and plans, and delivery of individual packages of support: improved but insufficiently, inconsistent, and poor integration of multiple provision. Must look ahead to plans catering for future needs, aspirations, and independence, and to develop confidence and expertise to address current dissatisfaction amongst parents and carers.
  • Lack of understanding of the support available leading to high levels of parental complaint and anxiety: pace of improvement too slow, although a programme of transformational work on speech, language, and communication is ready for implementation and a review of high needs funding complete. More focus on mental health needs in crisis and mapping care pathways required.
  • Lack of joint working to monitor, quality assure, and maximise effectiveness of work undertaken to improve outcomes: a comprehensive review of mental health services has started to rectify weaknesses, and the specialist outreach service is highly valued by schools.

SEND is undoubtedly a very complex sector, and most authorities with responsibility are probably only a whisker away from similar criticisms, but it is essential to focus on Suffolk’ achievements in the last couple of years. Whilst there is more to be done, I hope the council will find a way to share their experience with other authorities and organisations, enabling ‘lessons to be learnt’.

However, it is especially ironic that Suffolk County Council should face such criticism when only a few weeks later, in April 2019, Ofsted couldn’t praise the Council enough for its Children’s Social Care Services.

In three of the four categories, it received Outstanding:

  • The impact on social work practice with children and families;
  • The experience and progress of children who need help and protection;
  • Overall effectiveness.

And Good for:

  • The experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers.

The Council was praised for its ‘stable and aspirational leadership, and strong political and financial support for development of sustainable, high quality services which are of an exceptionally high standard’.

Services are child-focused, with workers building positive and purposeful working relationships with children and families, ensuring children are safeguarded.

Management is strong and staff feel highly valued.

I have no doubt that the next SEND report will reflect similar dynamism and commitment, but do urge the Council to adopt a more open approach to resolving the issues highlighted. There is nothing to be feared by sharing information and ideas, allowing a wider group to fully understand the complexities, and how taxpayers’ money is being spent.

Instead of an independent review, one solution would be to hold a special conference event, starting with presentations on the issues, perhaps inviting the report’s leading author to take questions. Delegates, including the media, could then form themselves into working groups to discuss specific aspects and present their own suggestions.

Such an initiative would defuse negative comments, provided all parties were subsequently kept up to date with progress, and those with the best ideas could even participate in developing fresh engagement. Further support (and even funding) could potentially be achieved if the council developed a partnership with a university research project to follow individual cases, analysing progress over a number of years. The information would be hugely beneficial in maximising resources now and into the future.

It is evident that a joined-up approach, with good communication between all relevant parties, is key to greater understanding and success. Suffolk should be commended for its commitment.

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