A letter from Service Director for Schools

Service Director for Schools, Jonathan Lewis, writes to parents regarding the recent government announcement on schools re-opening.


Dear Parent / Carer,
I am writing to update you about some of the recent COVID-19 developments affecting schools.

Recent Government Announcement on wider school reopening

Yesterday the government announced that primary schools will not be expected to welcome back all pupils before the summer holidays. However, schools that have the capacity to take in more pupils have been encouraged to do so. As we do not have any more information at this stage, we have asked schools to remain operating as they are now, and to not to make any changes to their current provision until further detailed guidance is issued by the government.

We are mindful that the majority of our schools met the government’s expectation to reopen for Nursery, Reception, Year One and Year Six on 1 June, but for many this meant committing all their resources. Unfortunately, many schools simply do not have the space nor the levels of staffing available to open to all year groups under the current government guidance. Admitting further children under current conditions is likely to take considerable additional resources and coordination at a national and local level, and this needs to be worked through before individual schools can begin to make their own plans for a fuller reopening.

Headteachers will review the situation on an ongoing basis, and will offer additional places to pupils wherever possible. The Local Authority, Multi-Academy Trusts and your child’s school will keep you up to date as these plans are developed.

Year 6 to 7 Transition
Schools are making arrangements for the transition of Year 6 pupils to secondary school.
Under normal circumstances, Year 6 pupils would visit their proposed secondary school during the final weeks of the summer term. These visits help pupils familiarise themselves with the school site, and to meet teachers and other key members of staff. This year, the government has advised that these visits should not take place, at least not physically. This is to help minimise the risks of spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Instead, schools are arranging a variety of online ‘virtual visits’. Some secondary schools have produced videos that give pupils a ‘virtual tour’ of the site and include introductions from heads of year, form tutors and others. Pupils may ‘meet’ their secondary teachers online. In addition, parents might be invited to attend a ‘virtual meeting’ at which staff explain how transition arrangements will work. Primary leaders are working closely with their secondarycolleagues to make arrangements that best fit local needs. These arrangements will vary, but we will be in touch to let you know where and when they are being offered. Ensuring that pupils stay safe during this process will, of course, be the number one priority.

Primary schools will transfer information about pupils in the usual way, so that secondary school leaders can plan to meet the needs of individual children. Many primary schools will share their predictions about pupils’ expected outcomes in the SATs, had those tests taken place. These predictions will be based upon the progress made by individual pupils before the start of the COVID-19 period.

Schools Capacity and Observing Social Distancing
As you know, those who are attending school have been placed into protective ‘bubbles’ of up to fifteen pupils. During the school day, pupils do not mix with those in other bubbles. The bubbles are essential to control social distancing and minimise risk, but they mean less people and more space needed. Unfortunately, this means schools may not find it possible to accommodate every pupil who wants to attend.

Each of our schools are different. Some are limited in terms of space, while many have less staff ‘on-site’, as they themselves may be vulnerable, or shielding others. I appreciate this may mean some parents cannot send their children to school at this point, and until guidance changes schools will be limited in their capacity to provide education for every child in school. Importantly, however, they will continue to support home learning.

Safety at this time is critical, and remains our number one priority. We have worked hard to ensure children and staff are protected in school, and we ask that families continue to observe social distancing outside of school. I have advised headteachers to use their discretion and not to admit pupils if they believe they have not socially distanced outside of school. It is vital that we keep our schools a safe place to attend for all.

School opening from September
At the time of writing, it is difficult to be certain about what will happen in September. Clearly, the government hopes that it will be possible for all pupils to be in school from the start of the 2020-2021 academic year, but it is likely to proceed with caution.
When I am in a position to offer parents further clarity on these or any other relevant matters, I shall write to you again. Meanwhile, may I take this opportunity to thank you for everything you are doing, and for your continued support during this difficult period.

Yours sincerely,
Jonathan Lewis
Service Director – Education
Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council

Facebook Live Session on Disability Living Allowance – Higher Rate

Contact (formerly Contact a Family) are running a Facebook Live session on higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children with learning disabilities or autism spectrum disorders.

Most children who get the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) qualify on the basis that physical problems severely restrict their ability to walk. However, even if your child has no physical problems with walking, they might still qualify for this DLA component if their behaviour is very difficult to deal with. This most usually applies to children with a learning disability or autism spectrum disorder.

Their next Facebook Q&A will focus on just this – claiming the higher rate of the DLA mobility component for children with learning disabilities or autism spectrum disorders. If you want to know more about this important benefit, ther Family Finance advisers will be on hand to answer any questions you have on our Facebook page on Thursday 28 May between 2-4 pm.


Government Announcement on School Closures

“Schools to stay open for children of key workers and those children with a designated social worker or ECHP.”

You may have seen this news on yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Briefing and Secretary of State Gavin Williamson’s briefing to the House of Commons.

Schools are now awaiting clarification from the Department for Education and County Council as to exactly what this means and how it would work. They will communicate directly with parent carers today and tomorrow as they make the necessary arrangements.

We will update you here and on our Facebook page as soon as we know.

In the meantime, stay safe and well. You can contact us and leave a message: 01480 877333, or email info@pinpoint-cambs.org.uk

Some help during these uncertain times

We’re working hard to bring you resources to help you through this time of uncertainty and to replace in part the groups we have had to cancel. We’ve created a new tab on our homepage called ‘stuck at home?’ in it we will link to resources, our webinars we’re organising and some lighthearted content to keep you smiling.

You can find it here




Pinpoint Meetings, Groups and Events

We regret announce we are postponing all our events, groups and meetings.

We continue to monitor the situation and will work hard to support all parent carers through this time.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you. You can reach us via phone: 01480 877333 and email: info@pinpoint-cambs.org.uk

The Pinpoint Team

Our CEO’s Conference Speech

If you missed our conference, we have posted here Sarah’s speech, which will give you great insight into what we do, and what we will be doing in the future.

Sarah Conboy’s Speech at the Annual Pinpoint Conference 2020

I’d like to start today by extending a warm welcome to all of you.  ​​

I am delighted to see so many parents and carers joining us… You’re in for a great day.  ​​

I’d also like to welcome our stall holders, professionals and our service commissioners. ​​

I know that some of you have been with us since our first conference eight years ago and that some of you were here last year for the first time, let’s see who you are.

{Sarah asked for a show of hands for those who had been here with us at a previous in the last two years, earlier than two years and if it was attendees’ first time. Sarah also asked the age of attendees’ children}​​

Today is my fifth year at the conference as I was here previously as a parent and, for the last two years, I’ve been up here on stage as the CEO! ​Last year I talked about the work we would be doing on your behalf.​ Over the last twelve months, we have been focused on joining up the services you need and helping you make the connections that make a difference for your family. ​We know that the biggest way we can help you is for the policies and the support offered for your children to be the best they can be and that they ‘do what they say on the tin’. ​We were delighted that so many parent carers joined us at a series of workshops to help develop a new Cambridgeshire and Peterborough SEND Strategy, a new SEND Pledge and a SEND Action Plan. ​That Strategy launched in September and in December the SEND Pledge to make that strategy a reality was also launched.

The Strategy itself has three priorities: ​

  • Send is Everybody’s Business ​
  • Early Intervention
  • And Getting the right service at the right time

The SEND Pledge is about how together (you, us, the professionals that support you) can work together to make those priorities a reality. Please do have a look at the artwork that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough children did to ensure it was a document that reminded us who it is for. ​This was a huge piece of work and should improve the lives and outcomes for all our children. ​

It helps that we have a seat on your behalf on all the senior strategic boards, ensuring that parent issues are given a clear and consist voice, helping to ensure services meet needs and aspirations. ​

​Of course, none of this matters unless it delivers.  The Local Authority have been developing a comprehensive SEND Action Plan.  It takes all the things you said matters and structures them into a work plan.  ​

We were very clear that there were three key themes for the first year: ​

  • Compliance – ensure that everyone does what they should, consistently, no excuses
  • Make SEN Support work better for our children – ensure good quality assessments happen early and that we are clear about what is being done to support our children and how we will all know if it’s working as expected… and what will happen if it doesn’t​
  • Deal with the cliff edges – there are too many times when moving between schools and services is more difficult than it should be​

And to reassure you, the LA have been listening, because those priorities are there., along with improving communication and ensuring that the Local Offer is the best it can be and that you can easily access that information on the County Council’s website. ​And I’m pleased to tell you I haven’t met a professional or parent who disagrees with these priorities. ​

Now it would be remiss of me to move on without mentioning that all of this costs money and the Council and schools are already struggling.  The harsh reality is that Cambridgeshire is one of the worse funded authorities with a central government funding formula that doesn’t reflect the actual needs of our children and young people. County Council officers have been doing all they can to raise this issue with Government, as have we.  So far there are no simple solutions.  The Authority has been required by Government to develop a plan as to how it will reduce its SEND overspend.  It has done so, but the reality is it’s an impossible task. LA senior officers are being extremely open and honest about the task they face and we’ve appreciated that.  We have to hope that Government are listening.  ​

We know that getting a full assessment of children’s needs continues to cause confusion and concern for families.

I’m really pleased with the co-produced Education Health Care Assessment Guide which:

  • explains how the assessment process works and the sorts of evidence which those who are trying to assess needs will find helpful
  • dispels the myth that a child must be at least two years behind
  • no longer talks about thresholds
  • promotes early assessment
  • recognizes that progress should be considered against the level of support needed to make that progress
  • makes it clear that the professional assessments and judgements of all involved, including professionals who are appropriately qualified private practioners, are valid and will be considered
  • discourages volumes of paperwork and the notion that children should be on Assess Plan Do and Review Programmesfor multiple cycles where there is clearly a high level of need

Importantly, alongside this, the professionals that work with schools as educational psychologists and support teachers have been prioritizing additional time for early advice in schools.  They can also provide free assessment tools for schools to use – helping to get better assessments much earlier to enable children’s needs to be met earlier. This early identification is crucial to ensure children don’t fall behind and that their needs can be met in school as part of SEN Support. ​​

We know the statutory processes can be difficult to understand and frustrating for parents when it doesn’t work as parents expected.  We are now regularly working together with the Statutory Assessment Team to look at how we can help.  In some instances, regrettably, families find themselves in a legal dispute with the Local Authority.  It would be great to avoid these, and we will continue to look what more could be done to achieve this where possible. ​

Other highlights from the past year include: ​

  • An extended piece of work with parent carers being involved in the re-tendering of short breaks​
  • Work with the Authority to address the needs of children who have social and emotional mental health issues and exploring how we can offer STEPs Behaviour sessions for you so help you support your children​
  • More work to look at how SEN Support is working on schools​
  • Developing the content of the Local Offer​
  • the contract to deliver additional workshops in the East Cambs and Fenland Opportunities Area​
  • The 8 new Pinpoint Tii Hubs we’ve been offering across Cambridgeshire where parent and carers can get together over a cuppa.​
  • The new Pinpoint Champions Programme and the volunteers that have been trained so we can reach more parent carers so we can signpost to services early​
  • Our regular ASD/ADHD workshops​
  • Our Meet the SEND AD sessions with Toni Bailey ​
  • A new PFA Pathways to Employment Event being held here in May​

I think you’ll agree, that’s a huge list for what is essentially a tiny team of trustees, staff and volunteers. ​

{Sarah then asked all staff, trustees and volunteers to wave their presence}.

Please find the team today as they like to meet you.   And in case you didn’t know, we are all parent carers of SEND children and young people too. We have a team of 8 Trustees who enable us to operate as a charity.  And we have a growing bank of volunteers, many of whom are here today.

Over the next 12 months we’d be delighted if you might do at least one of 4 things for us please​;

  1. Could you please complete the annual survey which we’ve just launched? It’s vital we know what works well and what would be better if.  We’re only as good as the things you tell us. ​ There is a copy in your bag.
  2. Could you be a Pinpoint Champion?  Could you tell others who might find Pinpoint helpful how to get in touch with us? Find Linda today and ask her all about it!​
  3. Could you help us with fundraising?  Could you do a fundraising event or be sponsored. You don’t have to climb a mountain, but you might hold a coffee morning?  Do you (or someone you know) work for a company that might be interested in helping us with sponsorship?
  4. Could you become a trustee?  It’s important our Board of Trustees reflect the wide range of parent carers and we are always looking for new people to join us.  Richard, Margaret and Fay and will be delighted to tell you more. ​

We are Pinpoint – at the heart of Cambridgeshire SEND

  • We are your voice – your parent carer forum – and we ensure your voice is heard.  Do please talk to us today and give us feedback as well as filling in your feedback form before you leave. ​
  • We are here to ensure that the services you need and want to understand what works well, what could be better and what else you’d like to see available.  Today you can find all of Cambridgeshire’s health, social care and education services represented on the stalls.  And you can talk direct to the people who commission services for you and your children in the 1:1 sessions. ​
  • We are your signposting service.  Do please look at our updated website, redesigned to help you get the right information first time. ​
  • We here to keep you up to date:  if you’ve not signed up for our newsletter please do so today before you leave.  And do follow our Facebook page. ​

And finally, we are also an information provider:  we have a number of workshops and groups running each month – all are free, and you can now sign up on our website…and automatically add it to your diary!

We are Pinpoint –  for parents by parents.

Enjoy the rest of your day.


Our Groups in March



ADHD/ASD Support Groups 

March 10th: 10am to 12 noon with Louisa Perry from DHIVERSE. She will be talking to parents about the programmes they run, what they cover in schools and how they teach young people that reflects the way they learn. Hunts Forum, The Maple Centre, 6 Oak Tree Drive, Huntingdon PE29 7HN.  A free car park is located next to the Oak Tree Centre and some parking is available outside the front of the centre.  If you are using your Sat Nav, the postcode is PE29 7LB (please use this postcode as it will bring you directly to the main car park near the Golden Knight pub).

To  book: http://bit.ly/3amgonc

March 13: 12.15pm to 2.15pm for a behaviour workshop with Elisa Ferriggi from Think Autism. You will have the opportunity to identify patterns of behaviour, understand why they occur and use a proactive approach to prevent behaviours occurring. At Ely Community Centre, High Barns, Ely CbB7 4SB. Parking on roads adjacent to centre.  To book: http://bit.ly/2IaN5rz

March 26th: 10am to 12 noon for a workshop with Kate Dorwood from CHUMS, talking all things mental health and support. At Family Voice Peterborough, The Goldhay Community Centre, 105 Paynels, Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, PE2 5QP. To book: http://bit.ly/2ThPXJz


Opportunity Area Workshops 

March 9th: 10am to 1pm Jane Rogers will be with us to guide us through causes and solutions to our children’s anxiety. You’ll find out about what might cause their anxiety and things you could try that might help. At The Arkenstall Centre, 7 Station Road, Haddenham CB6 3XD  To book: http://bit.ly/32My3ls

March 10th: 10am to 1pm Meet Laura for a whistlestop tour through the EHCP process. At King Edward Centre, 3 King Edwards Road, Chatteris PE16 6NG. To book: http://bit.ly/2TdhU5b

March 19th: 10am to 1pm with Linda talking about how she brought up her three children, one with additional needs (and now very successful!) and how we can look after ourselves as caregivers. At March Community Centre, 34 Station Road, March PE15 8LE. To book: http://bit.ly/2PE0KM3

March 24th: 10am to 1pm with Elisa Ferriggi from Think Autism. She will be guiding you through looking at family schedules and creating time with children, time for you, relationship and social time. At Whittlesey Library, 13 Market Square, Whittlesey, PE7 1BA. To book: http://bit.ly/32MBeto

March 25th: 9.30am to 12.30pm Community Sleep Support, with lots of practical hints and tips to help your child have good sleeping habits.  At Queen Mary Centre, Queens Road, Wisbech PE13 2PE. To book: http://bit.ly/2VDr7FJ


Tii Hubs

March 6th: 10am to 11am at King Edward Centre, 3 King Edwards Road, Chatteris PE16 6NG.

March 19th: 1.30pm to 2.30pm at Oasis Community Centre, St. Michaels’ Avenue, Wisbech PE13 3NR

March 16th: 1.30pm to 2.30pm at Mandeville Hall, Tan House Lane, Burwell CB25 0AR

March 18th: 1.30pm to 2.30pm at Ely Cathedral Centre, palace Green, Ely CB7 4EW

March 20th: 10am to 11.00am at Haddenham Arts Centre, 20 High Street, Haddenham CB6 3XA

March 20th: 1.30pm to 2.30pm at March Community Centre, 34 Station Road, March PE15 8LE


SEND Strategy

SEND is Everybody’s Business

A strategy to provide inclusion for children and young people aged 0-25 with special educational needs and disabilities in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

The strategy sets out our vision, principles and priorities to ensure that we are working together effectively to identify and meet the needs of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) from birth to the age of 25.

We want all young people to:
Dream big – Achieve well – Have choice – Control – Lead happy and fulfilled lives.

The three priorities which have been identified to achieve this are:

  • SEND is everybody’s business – embedding the vision of the SEND Strategy into the practice of everyone who works with children and families in ways that strengthen families
  • Identify and respond to needs early – a holistic and joined up early identification of and graduated response to needs
  • Deliver in the right place at the right time – improving outcomes for children and young people through making best use of resources, ensuring a graduated response and high quality local support and provision

Our commitment is that everybody can be:
Aspirational – Confident – Healthy – Included – Respected – Safe – Successful

Through this joint strategy we want to make SEND everybody’s business. The work is led by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough SEND Executive Board. This is the local partnership that brings together organisations and parent carer forums responsible for services and support for children, young people and families in a shared commitment to achieving our vision.It will be supported by an action plan that will set out in more detail how we will do this.


Adult Social Care charging consultation update

The consultation closes on December 15th so there is still time to have your say.

We have responded with this:

“Pinpoint have been considering the consultation as it will affect some of our parent carer’s young adults. We felt that the questions below were appropriate to ask at this stage. I’m not sure whether you would be able to answer them now or whether they would need to be put to Committee – please advise. If its not for officers, then can you please advise on how we pose them to Committee – can we register to speak?”

The Consultation says:

Some people will have to pay a bit more for their care. It will be up to £5.50 a week. Around 1300 -1500  some people might have to pay more​.

Some people will have to pay more for their care. It will be up to £28.95 a week. Around 1900 –2200 people might have to pay more.​

Some people might have to pay both suggested changes 1 and 2. Around 800 –1100 people might have to pay both of these​

Most people who use respite care have four weeks a year of care. They might have to pay up to £140 a week more. This will only happen on the weeks when they have a respite care stay. Around 100 -250 people might have to pay more​

Charge people for the Council managing their benefits and finances. This is called being an ‘appointee’. We will only charge people who have savings of over £1000. ·It will cost £10 a week for people in residential care. ·It will cost £12.50 a week for people getting care at home. Around 40-100 people might have to pay.​

We want to charge a fee each year to people who can afford to pay for the full cost of their care and who have chosen to ask the Council to arrange their care for them. These people are called self-funders. Around 800-1200 people might have to pay. They might pay up to £400 a year to cover the cost to provide this service.​

1. To what extent will the new charges affect young disabled adults?​

In terms of people in the age range 18 – 25 (care charges only apply from age 18), the only charging policy proposal that will significantly affect this cohort’s level of care client contribution is the inclusion of the full amount of the higher rate of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) Care Component or the enhanced rate of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – Daily Living part in the assessment (proposal two).

The Council’s other charging proposals relate only to i) people over pension age (i.e. the minimum income guarantee – proposal one) ii) those people who fund their own care because of high capital levels (proposal five – unlikely to be in the 18 – 25 age group), iii) those who take respite (proposal three – mainly taken by over-pension age clients, but some young disabled adults could also be affected) iv) those clients where the local authority acts as corporate appointee (proposal four – currently very low numbers).

Current Council records indicate that there are 219 Adult Social Care clients in the age range 18 – 25 receiving a Council-funded care package who either receive the higher rate of DLA Care, or the enhanced rate of PIP Daily Living. These individuals may therefore experience an increase in their weekly care client contribution if the Council agrees to the proposal, but there are a number of protections that would apply to people affected by this; including the application of the appropriate level of Minimum Income Guarantee in the financial assessment calculation which is a nationally set Government figure intended to ensure that people are left with a level of income after payment of care charges that is sufficient to cover usual daily living costs in the community and also taking proper account of any disability related expenditure in the financial assessment on an individual basis – based on the application of national guidance, local policy and best practice.

The Council says – However, if it was decided to go ahead with the changes, the Council would make sure that everybody is able to afford to pay towards the cost of their care. We will look at each person’s case. ​

Fact – Care support budget reductions over the last decade, particularly to support access to the community have meant that disability benefits have played a significant part in mitigating the effects of those reductions for disabled people. The new charging may have a significant role in reducing the ability of disabled people to lead purposeful lives outside their homes.​

2. To what extent will this process acknowledge and reflect those reductions as well as the new charges in making a judgement?​

The financial assessment itself will consider an individual’s financial and personal circumstances and take these into account, including levels of disability related expenditure as described above, and will also take account of any recent changes to the individual’s care and support plan that might adversely impact on their ability to access the community.

3. What will be the methodology for decision making about individual people affected? ​

The interpretation and application of statutory guidance, local charging policy and procedure, national association best practice and the use of discretion in certain exceptional cases will form the basis of the Council’s decision making methodology for individual clients affected by the implementation of the charging proposals, if these are agreed by the Council.