Government advisers hear of ‘significant developments’ in children’s services

Improvements, investment and innovation in Somerset’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) services are continuing at pace with Government advisers endorsing progress.

Government advisers from NHS England and the Department for Education met with Somerset SEND leaders recently (21 September) for the third time. Their report concluded ‘SEND leaders continue to provide robust oversight, with implementation of Somerset’s SEND Written Statement of Action being project managed to a high standard’.

The Written Statement of Action is a plan being followed by Somerset County Council and the NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to drive forward improvements in SEND services.

During the meeting, advisers heard about ‘significant developments’ in Somerset SEND services including the opening of a new special school and expansion of two existing special schools – providing an additional 100 specialist places (part of a 3-year project to create 450 places).

A summary of other developments cited were:

  • During the summer, nine ‘speak-up’ sessions were held, together with listening events. Children and young people with a wide range of needs were able to attend and contribute.
    • The development of a new pathway for children and young people with autism and/or ADHD. Health, education and care professionals have worked with parents to design the pathway to ensure a consistent, system-wide approach is provided for all children and young people.
    • Information about health pathways is now published on the Local Offer website to make it easier for parent carers, children and young people to find the information they need.
    • Start of senior leaders’ and inclusion champions’ training – looking to recruit a broad range of people to champion inclusion, diversity and SEND services.
    • Developments in improving the pathway between children’s and adults’ SEND services.
    • New governance arrangements developed, including school leaders and other key education specialists, to develop an ambitious education strategy for Somerset.
    • Greater focus on the experience of Children, young people and their families in relation to the Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) and the Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) processes.

Advisers also heard that both Somerset County Council and the CCG continue to arrange additional resources to support Somerset SEND services, and they agreed there has been significant and sustained improvement in collaboration across the local SEND partnership.

Cllr Frances Nicholson, Lead Member for Children’s Services at Somerset County Council said: “We are delighted that advisers continue to note and endorse the developments in Somerset’s SEND services that we and our partners are making. I’d like to thank all the children, young people and their families who are helping shape our new ways of working to date, benefiting them and future generations of children with SEND.”

Becky Applewood, Deputy Director for Women’s and Children’s Health, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group said “While we continue to work hard to engage and listen to children and young people and their families, it is pleasing to see the tangible impact that this is already starting to have on service delivery and improvements across Somerset. We continue to strengthen our partnership working to make sure we are as effective as we can be and to ensure our families, children and young people get the support needed both now and in the future.”

Ruth Hobbs, CEO for Somerset Parent Carer Forum CIC said “Having the right provision for a child or young person can be life changing for families. It also helps to ensure our children are able to reach their full potential. We are happy to see the realisation of additional specialist places within Somerset’s education system and understand more will be available over the next 18 months. This is an essential step in moving forward to improve services in Somerset, as families will start to see the impact of work being undertaken.”

Somerset County Council and NHS Somerset CCG are working hard together to make sure that all children and young people are happy, healthy and prepared for adulthood, with fairer life chances and equal opportunities.

Together with the Somerset Parent Carer Forum they are committed to working with families to continue to improve services for children and young people with SEND in Somerset.

The next adviser visit will focus on the impact SEND has on families. If you would like to share your experiences, contact getinvolved@somersetparentcarerforum.org.uk or SENDimprovement1@somerset.gov.uk.

To find out more information, visit https://choices.somerset.gov.uk/025/send-news/, follow @LocalOfferSomerset on Facebook or sign up to receive a regular SEND newsletter at www.somerset.gov.uk/sendnews.

ENDS

For more information, please contact the press office on 01823 355020 or email pressoffice@somerset.gov.uk

Notes to Editors