Shining the Spotlight - Essex Family Forum

We are really proud of our members and will jump at every chance to shout about them and their achievements! This is a dedicated place to showcase members and to shine the spotlight on their projects.

This time we're looking at Essex Family Forum.

How it works

The Essex Family Forum is a parent/carer forum. The Forum is a well-informed, connected and empowered community of families that includes children and young people up to the age of 25 with disabilities and/or special educational needs.

Essex is a large diverse county and we have a responsibility to ensure that we can reach a cross representation of the SEND population throughout the geographical spread of the county. We do this through our Family Champion Model.

Family Champions are Parents and Carers that represent the lived experiences of families. They attend well established local groups, coffee mornings or could simply be someone that represents a handful of parents meeting at the school gates or their kitchen table sharing their experiences.

Our Family Champions ensure each parent/carer’s voice is heard by adding their comments onto the Forum’s Graffiti Wall. We ask that the comments highlight what is working well and what is not working well within their local areas. These views are collated and we feed back to the organisations we work in partnership with.

Essex Family Forum works in partnership with specialist organisations, our local authority and health commissioners aiming for quality outcomes that meet the needs of all our families.

We are also part of the Eastern Region and National Network of Parent Carer Forums.

What has been achieved?

Essex Family Forum were proud to be commissioned by Essex County Council to host 17 Parental Engagement Workshops across Essex.

The workshops were run in conjunction with Essex County Council's consultation "Developing a Strategy for SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) in Essex".

The workshops generated over 1000 comments across 30 themes on SEN provision within Essex, which we presented to Essex County Council.  Essex Family Forum hopes to be involved with Essex County Council on their vision going forward and will work co-productively with the necessary agencies to achieve the goals that are set.

Essex Family Forum also hosted its second successful AGM. The event was well attended by families and professionals across Essex, with stalls such as Essex Short Breaks, The Children’s Society and Essex County Council.  Speakers included representatives from the Multi Schools Council and National Network of Parent Carer Forums along with Rachel Wright, author of The Skies I'm Under.

We also represent families’ views in several of the region’s Strategic SEND Working Groups, SENDIASS Strategic group, Preparing for Adulthood Strategic Group and we are working closely with the Local Authority to create a parent and child friendly SEN transport guide, along with videos and communication stories to aid passengers and their families amongst other projects.

Next steps

As we look to the future, we are committed to increasing the number of trained Family Champions to further representation of the SEND families within Essex.

Furthermore, we hope to continue to build upon the relationships we have developed with our local authority and health commissioners and continue to represent and contribute our families’ views to the SEND services within Essex.

Essex Family Forum will be issuing a more comprehensive report to Parents/Carers in the autumn term which will also be shared with Essex County Council, Clinical Commissioning Groups and Social Care.

More information



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