It is with sadness that I have to inform you of the immediate closure of CaPa. I am writing to let you know that CaPa, the parent participation forum representing Thurrock families has decided to close with immediate effect. The parent carers representing CaPa have worked hard for the past six years to raise the profile of participation in Thurrock and as a group were proud of the work completed on the CaPa Engagement Framework and Action Plan as this was a truly co-produced document. It is with some regret to note that that these documents received no feedback from the Local Authority or SEN team. The Forum has felt frustrated that since the CQC/Ofsted SEND Inspection the Local Authority has not recognised the knowledge and experience of the Parent Carer Forum and have failed to understand the concept or value of co-production. This has been particularly disappointing as this is in contrast to the relationship held with the SEN team previously. This has been even more evident since the start of the COVID-19 crisis when the Local Authority went ahead with changes to the EHCP documentation, including CaPa only at consultation stage at which point we were unable to meet in person to discuss this fully and were not given additional time to work on this together remotely. The current pandemic has had a profound effect on families and has meant that the steering group members have had to re-think their priorities. They feel unable to commit time to supporting a forum that, they feel, is purely a tick box exercise and has little impact on the Local Authority‚Äôs policy making. This coupled with my resignation as Chair means that there is no active committee within CaPa to apply for funding for 2020-21.’Contact, the organisation responsible for supporting parent forums, will now take over and work with an associate as to next steps although this is unlikely to be before the Autumn term. The email address will continue to be open in the short term if you have any queries or would like to be involved in setting up a new forum.

With best wishes and thank you to all parent carers for your support of CaPa over the past 6 years

Ashley Woodward