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Help & Advice

Man at crossroads looking confused

    As a parent or professional it is not always easy to know where to go for support, who to ask for advice or what next steps are needed.

    We have included a list of services and support you might find useful but if you still have unanswered questions please contact us and we will try our best to support you with your query or put you in contact with someone who can help

    What do I do if I think my child has Special Educational Needs and / or a Disability (SEND)?

    If you think your child may have a Special Educational Need that has not been identified below are some steps that you may consider taking.

    Step 1 – Arrange a meeting

    • if your child attends a pre-school, meet with their teacher or key worker
    • if your child is at school, meet with their teacher about your concerns. The teacher will be able to tell you what they can do to help your child. You could also speak to the school's special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO), who organises extra help for children with SEND
    • if your child is at college, meet with the person responsible for SEND (usually called the learning support co-ordinator)
    • If your child is not yet at school or not yet attending, you can talk to your doctor or health visitor who will be able to give you advice about the next steps to take.

    Step 2 - At your meeting

    • say why you think your child may have SEND
    • ask whether your child has more difficulty learning than other children their age
    • ask what the setting/school/college can do to help your child
    • ask what you may be able to do to help when your child is at home

    Step 3 - What the setting/school/college should do after the meeting

    They will use the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0 – 25 to decide if your child does have SEND.

    Who can I speak to for advice about what my child's school should be doing to support my child?

    Every child with special educational needs should have SEN support. This means help that is additional to or different from the support generally given to other children of the same age.

    The purpose of SEN support is to help children achieve the outcomes or learning objectives set for them by the school. Schools should involve parents in this process.

    Every school must publish an SEN information report about the SEN provision the school makes. You can find this on the school’s website. You can also ask your child’s teacher or the school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator for information on the SEN provision made by the school.

    Where can I get more information, advice or support?

    You can find out more about SEN Support by:

    • looking at the SEN Information Report on the school website

    • talking to your child’s teacher or the Special Educational Needs Coordinator

    • looking at the Local Offer

    • reading Chapter 6 of the SEN Code of Practice

    You can book a pre bookable time slot Monday to Friday 10am to 2pm with  SENDIASS (Formerly SEND Advice)  on 01234 276 267 or who can give you:

    • information about SEN support, including information about SEN funding

    • advice about what to do if you are not happy with the support your school is providing

    • information about other organisations, support groups and information services that could help

    • information and advice about your rights to request an EHC needs assessment.

    How do I apply for my child to have an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)?

    When is an EHC needs assessment necessary?

    The school or early years setting can often give your child help through SEN support. This means that the school makes additional or different provision to meet their needs. Sometimes other professionals will give advice or support to help your child learn.

    Some children need more intensive and specialist help. If your child does not make progress despite the SEN support an EHC needs assessment might be the next step.

    The SEND Code of Practice says:

    In considering whether an EHC needs assessment is necessary, the local authority should consider whether there is evidence that despite the early years provider, school or post-16 institution having taken relevant and purposeful action to identify, assess and meet the special educational needs of the child or young person, the child or young person has not made expected progress. (9.14)

    The local authority will look at:

    • your child’s attainments and rate of progress

    • their special educational needs

    • what has already been done

    • the difference that support has made

    • your child’s physical, emotional and social development and health needs.

    The SEND Code of Practice says:

    A local authority must conduct an assessment of education, health and care needs when it considers that it may be necessary for special educational provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC plan. (9.3)

    Some children and young people will have needs that clearly require an EHC needs assessment and EHC plan. Once the local authority is aware that this is the case it should start the process without delay. You can find out more about the criteria that local authorities should follow in the SEND Code of Practice sections 9.3 and 9.14 to 9.16.

    Who can ask for an EHC needs assessment?

    • parents – by writing to the local authority

    • a young person over the age of 16 but under the age of 25

    • the early years setting or school, but only after talking with you first.

    It is always a good idea to talk to the school or early years setting before asking for an EHC needs assessment.

    For more information about EHCP's and the support your child might be entitled to you can speak to the independent SENDIASS (formerly SEND Advice) service by calling 01234 276 267 in term time 

    Useful Phone Contacts

    Council Services


    Bedford Borough Council

    01234 267422

    Children with Disability Team

    01234 718023

    Adult Learning Disability Team

    01234 276762

    Adult Physical Disability Team

    01234 276168

    SEND Team

    01234 228375

    Multi Agency Safeguarding Team (MASH)

    01234 718700 in hours

    Monday to Thursday; 8.45am - 5.20pm

    Friday 8:45 to 4 20pm

    0300 300 8123 out of hours

    Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Team

    01234 276222 in hours

    0300 300 8123 out of hours

    Local Offer

    01234 276209

    Concessionary Travel team

    01234 718075

    Educational Psychology Team 

    01234 228693

    Blue Badges

    01234 718009

    Emergency Duty Team (out of hours and weekends)

    0300 300 8123




    Independent advise


    SENDIASS Bedford SEND Information Advice Support Service

    01234 276267






    Child Development Centre

    01234 310278

    Child Speech and language


    01234 310712/01234 310163


    Community Paediatrician’s

    01234 310700

    Occupational Therapy

    01234 310278


    01234 310670

    Bedford Hospital

    01234 355122

    Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) Bedford Hospital

    01234 795814 or 01234 355122 extension 4629


    Text 07507 331456


    Text 07507 334150

    NHS 111


    Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group

    01525 624275





    Other numbers


    Citizen Advice Bureau

    01234 867944 (advice line)

    01234 346543 (admin line)

    Local advice and support lines

    There are many national advice and helplines that you can access as a parent or professional. Rather than have an exhaustive list of national advice lines Parents have asked us to include local advice and support that they can access.

    Below is a list of local advice and support lines, however if you are aware of any that are not on here please contact us so that we can add them in.

    You can also contact us directly with any query and we would we happy to help direct you to the appropriate support where we can.


    SENDIASS (Formerly SEND Advice) provide confidential support concerning educational issues for residents of Bedford Borough. We are impartial from school, local authority, health, social care and other organisations to provide advice and support

    01234 276 267


    Autism Bedfordshire Helpline is open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday for information, advice and guidance on all aspects of Autistic Spectrum Conditions and associated problems

    01234 350 704


    Parentline provides a secure text message service for parents and carers of those aged 0-19 years. Simply text 07507 331456 for free and confidential advice and support on a range of health issues such as weaning, sleep and emotional health. Texts will be answered Monday to Friday between 9am and 4.30pm

    07507 331456


    Chathealth provides a secure text message service for children and young people aged 11-19 years. Simply text 07507 331450 to ask health related questions on mental health, drugs, relationships etc. Texts answered Monday to Friday, 9am - 4.30pm

    07507 331450


    Family Lives offers a confidential and free helpline service for families in England and Wales (previously known as Parentline). Please call us on 0808 800 2222 for emotional support, information, advice and guidance on any aspect of parenting and family life. Our helpline service is open 9am – 9pm, Monday to Friday and 10am – 3pm Saturday and Sunday

    0808 800 2222

    SEND Glossary of Terms

    Is there a term, word or Acromyn that you clarification on please use the SEND glossary below.  If you we missed a term, world or Acromyn please let us know by emailing 


    Academy – a publicly funded school which operates outside of local authority control. The government describes them as independent state-funded schools. Academies have more freedom than other state schools over their finances, the curriculum, and teachers' pay and conditions.

    Advice - written reports from parents, teachers and other professionals on a pupil’s special educational needs.

    Advocate - an advocate can help you to think about choices and options, to find out information and to make your views known. Advocates are independent and impartial, they will not give you opinions or make judgments. 

    Alternative learning provision (ALPS) - Education arranged by the local authority for pupils who, because of exclusion, illness or other reasons, would not otherwise receive suitable education

    Annual Review – a meeting that takes place at least once a year to look at the details of a child's Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and to record the child's progress and plan for the year ahead.

    Assessment – finding out what a child can and cannot do by observing them at school and sometimes at home and by talking with people who know the child well.

    ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder. See Autism

    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) - a behavioural disorder that includes symptoms such as inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Read more about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) on the NHS website

    Autism - is a lifelong condition that affects how people communicate and interact with others. Read more about Autism on the NHS website

    Audiologist - a health professional who specialises in identifying and treating hearing and balance disorders.


    Behaviour Emotional and Social Difficulties (BESD) - where a child's emotions or behavior are barriers to their learning. See Social, emotional and mental health difficulties (SEMH)

    Blue badge – helps you park closer to your destination if you or your passenger are disabled.

    British Sign Language (BSL) - a visual means of communicating using gestures, facial expression, and body language. Sign Language is used mainly by people who are Deaf or have hearing impairments.


    CAMHS - Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. These services assess and treat children and young people up to the age of 17 with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties.

    Care plan - A record of the health and/or social care services being provided to a child or young person.

    Child Development Clinic - where medical assessments are made of children whose development is giving cause for concern.

    Children and Families Act 2014 - an Act which changes legislation to ensure children and young people with special education needs get the services and support they need.

    Children’s Disability Register – a register of children with disabilities, special or additional needs in a local authority. Used to help plan services to meet the needs of children with disabilities and their families.

    Code of Practice (CoP) - the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015. A document designed to help families, schools, local authorities and other organisations make effective decisions regarding children with special educational needs (SEN).

    Common Assessment Framework (CAF) – a way of co-ordinating all the teams working for children and families. It includes the parent(s), school and any other professionals involved.

     Conduct disorders - the most common type of mental and behavioural problem in children and young people. They are characterised by repeated and persistent patterns of antisocial, aggressive or defiant behaviour, much worse than would normally be expected in a child of that age.

    Co-production – where children, young people and their parents/carers work together as equal partners with professionals from the local authority, health and social care to decide the outcomes they want and agree how these can best be achieved.

    CYP - Children and Young People


    Day Nursery - childcare and early year’s education for children from birth to pre-school 5 year olds. They are regularly inspected by Ofsted and offer a wide range of activities and combine both care and early year’s education.

    Developmental delay - A delay in reaching normal development milestones, for example talking and walking.

    Developmental co-ordination disorder (dyspraxia) - is a condition affecting physical co-ordination that causes a child to perform less well than expected in daily activities for his or her age, and appear to move clumsily.  Read more about Developmental co-ordination disorder (dyspraxia) on the NHS website.

    DfE - Department for Education. The government department that is responsible for education and children's services in England.

    Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) - an allowance for undergraduate or post-graduate students who have a disability or long-term health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia which affects their ability to study. It can be used to pay for things such as special equipment, a note taker or transport costs.

    Direct Payments - payments that allow you to choose and buy the services you need yourself, instead of getting them from the council.

    Disagreement Resolution - Local authorities must provide access to independent disagreement resolution to help parents and young people resolve disputes with local authorities, schools and other settings about Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) duties and provision.

    Disability Access Funding (DAF) - Three and four-year-old children who are in receipt of child Disability Living Allowance and are receiving the free entitlement are eligible for the Disability Access Fund (DAF). The funding is available to help childcare providers make reasonable adjustments at their setting to improve children's access to free early education.

    Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – may help with the extra costs of looking after a child who is under 16 and has difficulties walking or needs much more looking after than a child of the same age who does not have a disability.

    Dysarthria (difficulty speaking) - is difficulty speaking caused by brain damage or brain changes later in life. Read more about Dysarthria (difficulty speaking) on the NHS website.

    Dyscalculia - a difficulty understanding maths concepts and symbols.

    Dyslexia - common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling. Read more about Dyslexia on the NHS website.

    Dysphagia (swallowing problems) - the medical term for swallowing difficulties. Read more about Dysphagia (swallowing problems) on the NHS website. 

    Dyspraxia – see Developmental co-ordination disorder

    Dystonia - uncontrolled and sometimes painful muscle movements (spasms) for morre info please visit


    Early Years Provider - a provider of early education places for children under five. This can include state funded and private nurseries, registered childminders and preschool playgroups.

    Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) – a set of standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old. All schools and Ofsted-registered early years’ providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.

    Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC plan)   - defined in section 37 (2) of the Children and Families Act 2014, it is a plan for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through special educational needs support. It identifies the educational, health and social needs of the child or young person and sets out the additional support to meet those needs.

    EHC needs assessment - an assessment of the education, health care and social care needs of a child or young person.

    Educational Psychologist (EP) - a professional employed to assess a child or young person's special educational needs and to give advice to schools and settings on how the child's needs can be met.


    Family Information Service (FIS) - the FIS provides a free and impartial information and signposting service supporting parents and carers of children from birth to 20 (25 with additional needs)

    Fine Motor Skills - small movements of the body for example, using fingers to pick up small items, holding a pencil or doing up zips and buttons.

    Further Education (FE) - includes further education colleges, sixth form colleges, specialist colleges and adult education institutes. It does not include universities.


    Gait - the way in which a child walks.

    Gastrostomy - an artificial opening in the stomach to aid feeding and nutritional support

    Global development delay (GDD) - when a child takes longer to reach certain development milestones than other children their age. This might include learning to walk or talk, movement skills, learning new things and interacting with others socially and emotionally.

    Gross Motor Skills - whole body actions for example, playing games, swimming or riding a bicycle.


    Higher education (HE) – university level education.

    HI - hearing impairment.


    Home authority - this usually means the local authority in which a child or young person is ordinarily resident (and which therefore has the responsibility to the child or young person under the Children and Families Act 2014). 

    Hyperactivity - difficulty in concentrating or sitting still for any length of time. Restless, fidgety behaviour, also a child may have sleeping difficulties.

    Hypertonia - increased muscle tone.

    Hypotonia - decreased muscle tone.


    Inclusion - ensuring that all children (with or without disabilities or difficulties in learning) are, where possible, educated together at their local mainstream school.

    Independent school - a school that is not maintained by a local authority. 

    Independent supporter - provides information and practical support to parents/carers of children with special educational needs.

    Individual Education Plan (IEP) - short term targets for achievements set, reviewed and evaluated by the school with parents/child with copies made available to parents.



    Key Stages - the different stages of education that a child passes through

    • Early Years Foundation Stage - age 0-5 - Nursery and Reception
    • KS One - age 5-7 - Years 1 & 2
    • KS Two - age 7 - 11 - Years 3, 4, 5 and 6
    • KS Three - age 11 -14 - Years 7, 8 and 9
    • KS Four - age 14 - 16 - Years 10 and 11
    • KS Five - age 16+ - Sixth form or college


    Learning Difficulties – when a child has educational abilities which are significantly lower than children of a similar age. Basic reading and number skills are well below average.

    Learning Support Assistant (LSA) - non-teaching support staff who work with and support children with special educational needs in the classroom, also sometimes called Teaching Assistant (TA).

    Local Authority (LA) – the local government responsible for managing services in your area – Luton Council.

    Local Offer - all local authorities are required to publish a 'local offer'. A local offer is intended to provide a central point of information about the provisions available to children with SEN and disabilities in their area.

    Looked After Child (LAC) - A child who has been in the care of their local authority for more than 24 hours is known as a looked after child. Looked after children are also often referred to as children in care, a term which many children and young people prefer.


    Makaton – a system of communication that involves the combined use of manual signs and speech.

    Mainstream school - a state school which can meet the needs of most children.

    Maintained school - schools in England that are maintained by a local authority – any community, foundation or voluntary school, community special or foundation special school.

    Mediation - a method of seeking to resolve disagreements by going to an independent mediator. Mediation must be offered to a parent or young person in relation to an EHC Plan. Mediation is not compulsory for the parent or young person but they will need to consider mediation before appealing the education parts of an EHC plan in most cases.


    Named local authority officer - an officer of the Children’s Services Department who will deal with your child’s case.

    National curriculum - the programmes of study and attainment targets for children's education, for all subjects at all stages.

    Nasogastric tube (NG tube) - tube inserted into the stomach via the nose to aid feeding.

    Non-maintained special school - a non-profit-making special school which charges fees. Most non-maintained special schools are run by charities or charitable trusts.

    Non-verbal skills - skills which do not require spoken or written language but use other ways to communicate, e.g. gesture, facial expression.

    Note in lieu of a statement - a document in which the local authority will set out the reasons for its decision not to make a statement after a statutory assessment.


    Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - is a common mental health condition in which a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.

    Occupational Therapist (OT) - a professional trained to give advice on equipment, adaptations and activities to support the learning/social development of people with physical, emotional or behavioural difficulties 

    Ofsted - Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. This is the body which inspects and regulates services which care for children and young people and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages. 

    Ophthalmologist - trained doctor with specialist skills in the diagnoses and treatment of diseases of the eye.

    Oppositional Defiance Disorder  (ODD) – a conduct disorder in younger children which involves arguing (“opposing”) and disobeying (“defying”) the adults who look after them.

    Orthotist – a healthcare professional who assesses individuals for and designs specialist braces, splints and footwear.

    Orthoptist – a healthcare professional who investigates, diagnoses and treats sight related problems and abnormalities of eye movement and eye position.


    PECS -  Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) The Picture Exchange Communication System, also known as PECS, is a form of alternative and augmentative communication in which a child is taught to communicate with an adult by giving them a card with a picture on it. PECS is based on the idea that children who can’t talk or write can be taught to communicate using pictures.

    Personal Budget -  All families whose child has an EHC plan will have a right to request a personal budget. The personal budget will allow young people or parents to buy support identified in the plan directly, rather than relying on the local authority. Parents or young people will be given a choice of whether they want to take control of the personal budget by an agency managing the funds on their behalf or by receiving direct payments, where they can purchase and manage the provision themselves Under current proposals, only where an Education, Health and Care Plan is in place will a parent or young people be able to have a personal budget. A personal budget can be requested by a parent or a young person over 16 once the local authority has agreed it will issue an Education, Health and Care Plan or during the annual review process.

    PHB - Personal Health Budgets

    PCF – Parent Carer Forum



    RAG - Red, Amber, Green – colour codes for status of project workstreams/strands of activity. Red usually refers to action needs to be taken due to serious issue/service gap; Amber significant issue/problem present but under control/plan in place to address; Green minor/no issues.

    Receptive Language - The ability to understand what is being said.

    Resources - The type of facilities and support available in schools.


    S139a - If a young person (16-25) has a statement of need and leaves school at 16 and moves into a Further Education establishment a “moving on plan” is created by the LA this can also be called an S139A Learning and Difficulty Assessment

    SaLT - Speech and Language Therapy/ist; Assesses children’s speech, language and communication needs.

    SEN - Special Educational Needs. Children have special educational needs if they have learning difficulties that requires extra or different help.

    SEN Support - When a child or young person has been identified as having special educational needs, schools should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special educational provision in place called SEN Support. This SEN Support should take the form of a four part cycle (assess/plan/do/review) through which earlier decisions and actions are revisited, refined and revised with a growing understanding of the child’s needs and what support the child in making good progress and securing good outcomes. This is known as the graduated approach.

    SENCO- Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator. The teacher responsible for Special Educational Needs within a school.

    Sensory Impairment - Partial or complete hearing loss.

    SW- Social Worker. A person who will support a family with practical issues such as benefit applications, respite care, household adaptations etc.

    Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) - General learning abilities in the average range but difficulties in one or more particular areas of learning. Also known as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia.

    Special School - A school which is resourced and organised to provide for the education of pupils with an Education, Health & Care Plan who need a high degree of support in the learning situation and in some cases specialist facilities, equipment and teaching.


    TBC - To Be Confirmed

    ToR- Terms of Reference

    Transition-  Movement between different environments, rooms or settings. All transition involves change and it is vital to prepare children, no matter how young they are, for this. When children are prepared for transition they adapt more easily to changes.



    VCS- Voluntary and Community Sector

    Visual Impairment (VI) - Partial or complete loss of sight.





    SEN Frequently Asked Questions

    What does special educational needs (SEN) mean?

    The term Special Educational Need has a legal definition. Children with Special Educational Needs all have learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for them to learn than most children of the same age. These children may need extra or different help from that given to other children of the same age. Children with Special Educational Needs may have a range of difficulties with for example:

    • Cognition and Learning (Thinking and Understanding)
    • Social, Emotional and Mental Helath (How they behave)
    • Sensory and/or Physical difficulties
    • Communication and Interaction ( How they relate to others, does not include where English is a second language)

    I’m worried about a child/my child's development, what can I do?

    If you think your child may have a Special Educational Need that has not been identified by the school or early education setting, you should talk to your child’s class teacher, to the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) (Word, 24KB) or to the Head Teacher.

    If your child is not yet at school or not yet attending an early education setting, you can talk to your doctor or health visitor who will be able to give you advice about the next steps to take.

    What is a graduated approach?

    The graduated approach recognises that children learn in different ways and can have different levels of Special Educational Need. So increasingly, step by step, specialist expertise can be brought in to help the school with the difficulties a child may have.

    What is an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment?

    An EHC Needs Assessment is a detailed investigation to find out exactly what the child’s Special Educational Needs are and what special help the child may need.  The Local Authority must secure an EHC Needs Assessment for the child or young person if, after having regard to any views expresses and evidence submitted the Authority is of the opinion that-

    (a) the child or young person has or may have Special Educational Needs, and

    (b) it may be necessary for Special Educational Provision to be made for the child or young person in accordance with an EHC Plan


    The Local Authority will consider very carefully the child’s progress at school or college and the guidance in the SEN Code of Practice (PDF). They will also listen to your views and to the views of your child’s school about your child’s Special Educational Needs. The school or early education setting will tell the Local Authority about any special help they have already given to your child.

    How long will it take to make a decision?

    There is a statutory time period for completing an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment. From the initial request to agreeing the outcome with the parents the process must be completed within an 20 week timeframe.

    Who will make the decision?

    The Bedford Borough SEND  Panel will consider cases put forward for EHC Needs Assessment as advised in the SEN Code of Practice. This panel will have a multi-professional membership. The SEND Team Manager acting on behalf of the Local Authority (LA) will convene and chair it, and will invite specialists as appropriate. The panel will consist of representatives from the following according to need, the SEND Team, the Psychology Team, the Advisory Teacher Team, the Early Years Support Service, the Sensory and Communication Support Team, the Inclusion Support Team, special schools, mainstream schools and Independent Parental Supporters.

    The Education Panel’s role is to advise the SEND Team. The SEND Team are responsible for deciding on whether young people match the guidance for EHC Needs Assessment (Word, 535KB)

    All decisions following panels will be communicated verbally (where possible) and in writing to the parents.

    What if I disagree with a Local Authority decision?

    You will be informed in writing of the Local Authority decision and when you have the right to appeal. As a first step you should contact the SEND Team to discuss the way forward. You may also wish to contact the SENDIASS (formerly SEND Advice) or KIDS which is an independent mediation service.

    What is an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)?

    An Education, Health and Care Plan is a legal document that outlines all the child’s special educational needs and the objectives and provision to meet those needs.  

    Can changes be made to an EHCP once it’s in place?

    Changes to an EHCP are usually considered by the Local Authority following the Annual Review, which should take place at least once a year, or every 6 months for a pupil under  the age of 5. The school will make recommendations which the Local Authority will consider to see whether any amendments to the EHCP are appropriate.

    Elective Home Education Questions and Answers

    Will there be any support from the Bedford Borough Council if I am educating my child at home?

    There is a specific advisor within the SEND Team who can provide advice and guidance covering:

    Please see the Elective Home Education page for further information

    What training is available to parents/carers to support my chlld/young person with SEND?

    The local offer provides a monthly round up of all training that is available for parents and carers, which can be viewed here