Christmas - Support for Parents and Carers

As we all know, Christmas can be a very challenging time for children & young people who have additional needs including Autism Spectrum Disorder, attachment needs and anxiety.  

We don’t have to tell you how schools and home life change at this time of year, the unexpected visitors dropping in, endless play rehearsals in noisy school halls, Christmas parties, watching films, decorations, glitter, dressing up, and as the whole atmosphere at school and home changes this can lead to some of children becoming very confused, overwhelmed and distressed at this time.

Sometimes we can forget some of the basics that help our children so attached are some resources you might find useful during this time including:

  • A sample of a social story to support children at Christmas time, which you will need to personalise.
  • Examples of additional visual supports that could be used.
  • Some tips for parents.
  • There is also a story written from the perspective of a child with ASD about how they find Christmas.
  • ‘Our Story’ is a free ipad app that allows you to take pictures and then write a sentence, or record audio, which may be useful for preparing younger children for some of the changes at Christmas time.

We also know that you will have other useful tips and bits of information - please do share these through our Facebook page so we can help each other.  

School Transport Policy Consultation

Dear Parent Carer,

We are writing to make you aware of two consultations currently being carried out by Dorset County Council that make specific reference to children & young people with Special Educational Needs or Disability (SEND).

The relevant policy documents are attached, and we strongly recommend you take time to read them in full.

The Home to School Policy and Post 16 Transport Policy are not SEND specific so to help you find the relevant sections we have highlighted text in yellow. These are the parts of the policy most likely to affect your child/young person.

Also attached is a shorter easier to read guidance document produced by Dorset County Council. This also outlines the details most relevant in both policies to children & young people with special educational needs or disability.

The consultation began on October 23rd and ends on 4th December.

If you wish to respond you must do so by emailing:

Statement from the Steering Group of Dorset Parent-Carer Council

The findings of the Ofsted /CQC Joint Local Area Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) inspection in Dorset will come as no surprise to families.

The outcomes mirror what parents have been expressing for some time, parental frustration about the struggles to get their child’s needs assessed, the failure to meet statutory timescales for assessments, lengthy waits for completed Education Health & Care plans.  It highlighted inconsistencies with the graduated response across mainstream schools and poor communication with parents.

We would like to thank all the parents and carers who took part in the inspection either through the Inspection webinar, the DPCC online survey or in face to face meetings with the inspection team.  We would particularly like to thank those individual families who took the time to share their personal and sometimes awful experiences.

We would like to thank Dorset County Council and the CCG for ensuring we were there through the entirety of the inspection.  Dorset County Council and the CCG have committed to improving services and addressing all the weaknesses identified in both the inspection report and the DPCC survey.  Dorset Parent Carer Council is working tirelessly to ensure that the voices of parents and carers remain central to every piece of work.  There remains a lot of work to be done and families belief in the system will not change until their day-to-day experiences improve. 

We welcome the requirement for a statement of action and see this as essential in providing assurance that improvements will happen.  We will strive to ensure that all agencies understand their responsibilities to provide a seamless journey for children and young people with SEND and their families in Dorset.  We will continue to work with Dorset County Council and the Clinical Commissioning Group to ensure that the needs of children and young people across Dorset are effectively met to enable them to achieve the best possible educational and other outcomes.

If any parents, carers, family members, or organisations would like to be involved in the improvement work you would be very welcome. 

Please let us know through our website -

or email  -

Please click the button below to see the Ofsted inspection report.

SEND Local Area Inspection - Update

The Chair, Vice Chair and Steering Group of Dorset Parent-Carer Council want to say a huge THANK YOU to all parent carers who participated  in the Special Educational Needs & Disability Local Area Inspection last week.   Over 300 parent carers took part in either the inspection webinar or Dorset Parent-Carer Council online survey .  Your views and concerns provided the inspection team with key information which they will consider when evaluating the overall effectiveness of the Dorset Local Area* in implementing the disability and special educational needs reforms as set out in the Children & Families Act 2014.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the SENCO’s in schools and colleges and the Parent Support Advisors in the Special Schools who sent text messages, emails and generally raised awareness of the survey and the inspection.

Social Media played a big part in helping to spread information about the Local Area Inspection, so please accept our apologies if you felt bombarded with messages!

How will you know what the report says?

The inspection team will now evaluate all the evidence gathered and then Ofsted and the CQC will write a joint inspection outcome letter. This letter will explain the main findings and make recommendations for improvement. It will also highlight any strengths that inspectors identified to help other services and areas develop and improve. 

The letter should be made public in 4-6 weeks and will be published on the following Government website. 

Once published Dorset Parent Carer Council will circulate the letter and the survey results as widely as possible, emailing a copy directly to DPCC members and by adding the information to the DPCC website. 

For those of you who shared personal stories using the ‘Give us Your Views’ page on the DPCC website we will respond to each of you individually.

THANK YOU, again your voice has been heard and it will make a difference.

Best Wishes

Lesley & Elaine


*What is the local area?

The local area includes the local authority, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), public health, NHS England for specialist services, early year’s settings, schools and further education providers.

Please click on the buttons below to see the results of the DPCC Survey