March 2023 Update on Policy Initiatives

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March 2023 has been a very busy month in terms of UK budget and government initiatives focused on disability, disabled children and young people’s experience of education, health and care and supporting more disabled adults to start, stay in and succeed in work.   We welcome the Government’s commitment to work alongside children, young people, and adults with disabilities and long-term health conditions and their families to deliver improvements right across government, business and society. 

There are an estimated 33,500 children of school age in the UK with physical disability, the majority of whom have cerebral palsyDespite the prevalence of children with physical disability, there is no mention of the needs of these children within the Government’s National Disability Strategy or the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan. Whilst there is reference to learning disability, early language delay, autism, behavioural challenges and sensory impairment and with substantial additional training resources being directed to these needs, there is not, apparently, to physical impairment or cerebral palsy.

Action Cerebral Palsy is working to raise awareness and understanding of cerebral palsy at every level of government to ensure that policy decisions and care provision for children and young people with cerebral palsy enable them to lead happy, productive, and fulfilled lives.

In response to the Government’s new SEND and AP Improvement Plan and the National Disability Strategy, Action CP is calling for:

  • Improved understanding of cerebral palsy, early warning signs and its impact:
    • For the general public
      • Inclusion of information about motor development and the warning signs of abnormal development within the new digital Red Book (Personal Child Health Record) to provide a practical tool to support parents and healthcare professionals in looking for signs of cerebral palsy and enabling more rapid onward referral
      • Inclusion of physical and neurological conditions within the Department for Health and Social Care public disability awareness campaign
      • Opportunities for school students to develop understanding of conditions including cerebral palsy to be embedded into Citizenship topics
    • Improved workforce skills and understanding of cerebral palsy and its impact on access to the curriculum and educational attainment, on employment and productivity, and on participation in the wider society:
      • Funding for condition specialist expertise within SENCOs, educational psychologists, physiotherapists and speech and language therapists.
      • Funding for CP awareness training amongst mainstream education, local authority and non-specialist professionals
      • The Behaviour and Values element of Ofsted inspections should measure the culture of the school and standards of active and challenging participation throughout the curriculum for students with physical and neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy. This should go beyond the expectation of “reasonable adjustment” for pupils with SEND. 
  • Access to health and care provision at the point of identification of need rather than at the point of issue of an EHCP
  • Greater acknowledgement of the role of the voluntary sector and use of the specialist knowledge and staff within these organisations including specialist SEND schools within SEND partnerships

To read Action CP’s response in full to the SEND and AP Improvement Plan, please click here.

To ensure that the local services provided for children and young people with cerebral palsy are knowledgeable, effective and appropriate, Action Cerebral Palsy is working directly with over a dozen local councils to embed the principles of the Cerebral Palsy Covenant and deliver CP awareness training to council staff involved in supporting families with children with cerebral palsy.   We are urging councils up and down the country to sign up to the CP Covenant and get involved!   

If you would like to join with us to help raise awareness of CP amongst the general public, policy makers and professionals, please get in touch at info@actioncp.org.  #CPAware #CerebralPalsyCovenant