Coproduction and participation

How we work as a Parent Carer Forum

Parent Carer Forum

Parent Carer Forums (PCF) work to be representative of parents and carers at a strategic level in their local area. A PCF’s aim is to develop relationships with the local authority, healthcare and other professionals where a working relationship called coproduction is reached. This means that a PCF is working as an equal with professionals and practitioners to coproduce things like policies, developing services and reviewing the current offer. The idea being that a PCF brings with them the views and opinions of the local population of parent carers. Involving parents and carers is something that the Children’s and Families Act 2014 says must happen.

Bolton Parent Carers are the designated Parent Carer Forum for the Bolton area. We receive an annual grant from the Department for Education to ensure parent participation in our area. Parent participation is the phrase used to describe parents and carers of children and young people with SEND being actively involved at a strategic level in their local area.

How do we represent parents and carers

We are well respected across the local authority and health in Bolton, meaning that our positions at strategic level meetings are welcomed as far more than tokenism. There is a difference between ‘having a seat at the table’ and ‘having a voice at the table.’ Bolton Parent Carers very much have a voice locally for SEND parents and carers. Below you can see where we officially represent parents and carers, in addition to this we are often involved in a number of smaller work-streams and meetings.


Local Authority SEND Steering Group

A permanent multi-agency group, chaired by Sue Cornwell (Head of SEND) that meets on a monthly basis and works to ensure that Bolton’s SEND priorities are on task on being worked towards.

Bolton Children & Young People’s Board

A permanent very broad multi-agency group, chaired by Bernie Brown (Director of Children’s Services.) This board works to ensure that all children in Bolton are safe, healthy, achieve and belong.

Joint Executive Board

This board meets monthly and is chaired by Bernie Brown (Director of Children’s Services.) It is made up of council and health partners who have the authority to commission services. It ensures that where necessary in Bolton, SEND services are considered for potential joint commissioning opportunites.

Local Authority Coproduction Task Group

A working group, chaired by Jenny Wilkinson (Designated Clinical Officer for SEND) that has developed and rolled out a coproduction toolkit in 2021 for the local area. The toolkit supports all professionals to understand coproduction and how to embed it in their working practice. Further work for this group is to develop ways to ensure coproduction is embedded in the Bolton area. The toolkit is available by clicking here

Local Authority SEN Support Task Group

A multi-agency working group, chaired by Melanie Allen (Deputy Head of SEND)  that is tasked with the local priority of ‘SEN Support.’ The group is made up of SENCO’s and support service.

Local Authority Local Offer Task Group

A working group, chaired by Ali Hart (Bolton Council) tasked with developing a brand new online Local Offer. The online Local Offer is a web space for Bolton SEND families to be able to access information to help them understand what the Bolton area provides for children and young people with SEND. Phase One of the new Bolton SEND Local Offer was launched in February 2022. To visit the local offer click here

Health and SEND

Meeting on a monthly basis, this group chaired by Jenny Wilkinson (Designated Clinical Officer for SEND) works to discuss matters arising for families. 

Bolton Autism Forum

Recently reformed and chaired by Jenny Wilkinson (Designated Clinical Officer for SEND) this is a multi-agency group that looks at the autism offer in Bolton.

Bolton Preparing for Adulthood Forum

A large, multi-agency forum, chaired by Director of Children’s Services, Bernie Brown. The aim of this forum is to improve the offer that Bolton has for young people with SEND as they become adults. It works across the PFA principles of employment, independent living, health and community inclusion. The PFA forum has a number of working groups running alongside the main forum that we are also involved with.

Preparing for Adulthood – Community Inclusion

A subgroup of the PFA Forum, chaired by Stuart Smythe, Commissioning Officer Bolton Council. This group is initially working to understand what is currently available for young people with SEND in the Bolton community, and will then go on to assess need and look how this can be met.

Preparing for Adulthood – Health

A subgroup of the PFA Forum, chaired by Jenny Wilkinson (Designated Clinical Officer for SEND) which works across all aspects of the transition to adulthood for those with SEND. The starting point for this group in 2021 was to coproduce a set of principles that encapsulated how health practitioners should approach the PFA journey for those with SEND.

Startwell Development Group

A multi-agency group, chaired by Suzanne Pendleton (Start Well Special Educational Needs and Inclusion Lead,) that meets regularly to develop Bolton’s Early Years SEND offer.

ADHD Diagnostic Pathway Planning Group

A multi agency group, lead by Sarah Whitehead (Commissioner Bolton CCG) that is working to develop an ADHD diagnostic pathway for Bolton.

NW Regional Parent Carer Forum

As a region, the North West has 23 areas. We meet regularly as forums to share experiences and also to enable our North West PCF representatives to be able to feedback what is happening in the North West when they meet nationally. This network enables your voices to be heard by the government and NHS England.

GM Regional Parent Carer Forum

The 10 PCF’s from the 10 areas that make up Greater Manchester meet on a regular basis to share parent carer experiences across the region.

How do we gather your experiences?

In order to ensure that when we work with professionals we are bringing a wide range of parents experiences to the table, we spend time on activities with local parents and carers where we are always gathering your views and experiences.

We value face-to-face opportunities to be with parents and carers. Our workshops are one of our main ways of hearing parent views and understanding more about experiences. We have a variety of topics for all levels of need, which means we are hearing about a wide range of experiences and age groups. Information about our workshops can be found by clicking here.

We run regular “How is Bolton Doing?” sessions. These are relaxed and informal sessions where parents and professionals come together to discuss their experiences. To find out more about these click here.

Carrying out surveys is a valuable way of gathering mass voices, and and can be useful when we need views on specific topics.

We work closely with Bolton Information Advisory Service, who are working day-in-day-out with Bolton families and provide us with ongoing feedback.

We are also parent carers ourselves, so we live and breathe the SEN journey!


Parent Participation Grant

Our grant for parent participation from the DfE is administered by Contact, read about it here.

Government funding

The government has committed to funding parent participation until 2020, read about it here.

Being heard Nationally

We are part of the NNPCF, this enables your views to be heard by government.