Somerset SEND improvements noted by advisors

Somerset is continuing to deliver real and significant results for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) – as confirmed by a recent monitoring visit by the Department for Education (DfE) and NHS England advisers.

The visit highlighted both Somerset County Council’s (SCC) and Somerset NHS Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) commitment to putting in place additional resources for schools and other settings to help those with SEND.

The collaborative partnership of all agencies has shown strong leadership and significant improvements, all of which are bringing about real results.

This includes:

  • Timely and high-quality Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) now in place for eligible young people with SEND
  • Autism pathway improvements, including reduced waiting times and referrals progressing to an assessment increased – with positive parent/carer input and feedback leading to further improvements
  • The launch of ‘core standards’ as a tool to support early identification of young people with SEND in schools
  • Positive feedback across the service of notable improvements, and children, young people and parent carers reporting they feel valued and listened to by key decision makers
  • Launch of a new Citizens Portal – committed to growing the platform and training parents/carers to use it. Currently, 80+ parents are using this new part of the system
  • The recruitment of over 75 inclusion champions who are the voice of SEND, able to questions and challenge, ensuring SEND is everyone’s business

Cllr Frances Nicholson, Somerset County Council’s Lead Member for Children’s Services said: ‘Schools, Health partners and the Council have been working hard to make the changes and improvements needed to secure better outcomes for Somerset’s children and young people with SEND.’

Cllr Nicholson continued: ‘I am so pleased that national monitoring has confirmed that, with all partners working together, we are making significant progress. Feedback from staff, parents carers and the young people themselves shows that we are really making a difference and setting strong foundations for future generations of children and young people. Even so, we know there is more to be done –we need continue hearing from young people and their parents and carers to make sure we continue to get things right across the whole system.’

Becky Applewood, Deputy Director for Women’s and Children’s and Family Health, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group said: ‘It is pleasing to see the hard work and progress we have made as a system, reflected in the report. A strong partnership with more joined up working and an increased focus on coproduction and listening to the voice of the child and young person has helped to underpin and drive forward some of the improvements to date.’

Ms Applewood continued: ‘There is still more work to be done, and it will be important to build on what we have been doing already with children, young people and families – using their feedback and knowledge to strengthen our services and provide a tangible impact to those who need them.’

Ruth Hobbs CEO Somerset Parent Carer Forum CIC said: ‘We are pleased to see the progress that has been made being recognised by the advisors from NHS England and the Department for Education. We know as an area, we have more to do, so that the impact of the work is felt by families across Somerset. We are committed to working with our families in Somerset to ensure their voices continue to be heard and help shape provision in Somerset.’

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 opportunity.

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