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You Said We Did

In order to ensure that the Local Offer is meeting the needs of children and families in Swindon, we will annually gather feedback and use this to shape the services and support that are on offer.

Here are some of the changes we have made as a result of your feedback:

2020

You said... We Did...
You said you find it difficult reaching the SENAT team via phone, their phone line wasn't open for long enough We have put additional resources in place to answer the telephone line during full office hours (Monday - Thursday 8am-5pm and Friday 8am-4.0pm) with one telephone number for the whole team: 01793 464641.
You said it is frustrating when you don't know the name of your caseworker within the SEND Service team. We are calling every family where there is an EHCP and providing them with the name of their caseworker and will ensure families are updated when there is a change in the future.
Families that home educate their children told us they don't feel included. We are working with Swindon SEND Families Voice to ensure these families are more represented and feel listened to. David Haley, Director of Children's Services has written an open letter to Home Education families and committed to drop in events.

 

2019

You said... We Did...
Listen to parents, they know their child best in most cases. Please see us as an equal partner.

Swindon SEND Families Voice (SSFV) are Swindon’s Parent Carer Forum. They are the representative of local groups of parents and carers of children and young people with disabilities. They work alongside the local authority, education, health and other service providers to ensure the services planned, commissioned, delivered and monitored meet the needs of children and families and that the parents and carers voice is at the heart of what we do. SSFV are members of the SEND Strategic Board and they sit on a number of other strategic groups. We continue to support the development of SSFV so that they can support and challenge on behalf of families in Swindon. Through our improvement plan we are developing a range of improvements to ensure we are putting the child, young person and parent/carer’s voice at the heart of everything we do.

We collate and analyse feedback on service satisfaction and customer experience routinely and use this insight to identify and drive improvements across the SEND system.

We continue to offer co-production meetings for all children undergoing a statutory needs assessment to agree the contents of the EHC Plan before it is issued.

Please improve communication with parents. Professionals need to have open dialogue and work together not against each other and families. When this is done right it can go very right.

We have implemented a programme of workshops for professionals to improve communication, participation and co-production practices to drive improved outcomes and more effective preparation for adulthood. A communication plan is in place to keep children, young people and families informed of developments. We now co-produce an annual conference for children and young people with SEND, parent/carers and professionals from across the SEND system to work together on service planning and evaluation.

Some parents do not like to work with professionals.

In September 2019, we launched and co-produced the new SEND Local Offer to improve the quality of information and advice for parents/carers and provide greater transparency of the offer available. A good quality SEND Local Offer will mean greater choice and control for parents.

Quiet children with SEND can fall under the radar until secondary school.

Identifying need at the earliest point and then making effective provision improves long-term outcomes for the child or young person. The SEN Education Improvement Advisor has developed a programme of support for the SENCo network. The new Core Standards was launched in September 2019 to help with early identification of needs.

What training is being given to staff across education, health and social care? For example, not enough training is delivered to secondary school staff for autism and legal training is needed for SENCo’s and the SEN team to make sure people are aware of what is required.

A workforce skills audit is currently being carried out to identify areas of training needs for all provisions.

Having to have Child in Need and Early Help reviews is taking valuable resources away from professionals delivering interventions and means the graduated response is taking too long.

Through the development of the Core Standards there will be alternatives to the Early Help Record depending on the individual needs of the child and young person once these are launched.

The only way to get support is with an EHCP – there aren’t enough services beforehand. What about early intervention so an EHC Plan isn’t for life? Parents fight to get an EHC Plan because of this. There is no help for children without a label.

We are currently undertaking a High Needs Funding Review which includes exploring strategies to support children and young people at SEN level more effectively to reduce the need for High Needs funding or an EHC Plan to improve outcomes.

Schools do not buy enough traded services especially from Educational Psychology and instead ask for an EHC Plan to get this paid for by the Local Authority as part of the statutory assessment.

We are currently reviewing the service specifications and contracts for support services to ensure they include requirements for SEND (practice aligned to SEND reforms) and reporting on impact of the service.

Parents to understand what ‘good’ looks like because there are so many different views and experiences. Good support, information and advice services so parents know what to expect and what their options are.

Our vision is for the SEND Local Offer to be the “go to” place for information, advice and services about SEND in Swindon. The SEND Local Offer should be the first way for children, young people and families to access information to support their SEND journey. In addition to the SEND Local Offer, SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disability Information Advice and Support Service) is a free independent confidential service

Neuro-development assessment waiting lists are too long and create crisis in un-met needs.

The new Neuro-development Pathway went live October 2019. The pathway involves a new triage service to make sure all the relevant information required by the Paediatricians is there from the beginning. The waiting list is currently 2 years but is decreasing (April 2019 1,261 to December 2019 – 707).

We know there is a national shortage of Speech & Language therapists, Occupational therapists and Educational Psychologists but the lack of involvement of these services is having an impact.

By January 2020, following a review of the Advisory Services review, there will be a redesign of Advisory Services to support the delivery of best value in terms of cost and outcomes.

The wait for a child to be seen by CAMHS is too long. The gap between TAMHS and CAMHS is too big so children are being missed. The appointment process due to the long waiting lists means some children are removed from the list as parents don’t respond to letters asking if a child needs to stay on the waiting list.

Swindon has been successful in becoming a Wave 1 Trailblazer site in mental health. The first 40 schools have been selected. This involves a close look at waiting times and the referral points. There will be a move towards self-referrals for those children and young people in the trailblazer schools. Swindon has also been successful in securing some additional funding to reduce waiting times. This has been implemented at the beginning of April 2019 and is ongoing. It will impact on CAMHS assessment and waiting times. We will continue to commission the ELSA Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) programme for schools, Kooth (additional direct online access service to children and young people on the waiting lists) and the Mental Health Liaison post (within GWH for the CAMHS Outreach Service for Children and Adolescents who present at GWH).

Let us jointly agree the definition of inclusion and exclusion so we all have a shared understanding.

Please make sure all of my child’s teachers know they are on the SEN register and are aware of my child’s needs and what they should be doing to meet them.

Improving outcomes doesn’t always cost money. It is the small things that make a difference such as letting them play in the school football team.

Children with SEN sometimes take longer to achieve. There is a push on too many GCSE’s and academic achievement and not enough attention on the softer measures of progress.

Improve access to school especially for children who have health needs.

It is important that staff across education, care and health feel confident and have the skills to deliver reforms and meet the needs of children and young people with SEND to the highest standard. It is important that we set out what we expect from providers and services in relation to equality, inclusion and participation. This is being done through the creation of Core Standards trough the High Needs Funding Review, across the 4 categories of SEND (Cognition and Learning, Communication and interaction, Social Emotional and mental Health and Physical and/or Sensory needs). There is representation from SSFV and young people in this work. There will also be effective oversight of exclusions and persistent absence of children and young people with SEND by Senior Leaders from across the Area, Members and Swindon’s Safeguarding Board. We have also committed to undertake a deep dive to gain insight from quantitative and qualitative information on exclusions and persistent absence in co-production with parents/carers, children with SEND and young people and schools to identify the key hotspots for targeted intervention. We will provide governor training on the SEN and inclusion agenda to ensure a whole school approach to inclusion is adopted and exclusion hearings are managed effectively. We will ensure that schools and partners consistently comply with the statutory guidance on meeting the needs of children with medical needs with a particular focus on promoting school attendance See the Core Standards.

Compared to other local authorities we have a good number of special schools and units. Whilst the mix and diversity isn’t always alright, in comparison to other local authorities we have good provision. This is important to parents because some Academies have zero tolerance policies using the Tsar approach towards behaviour. Children are being off-rolled and there is too much focus on statistics. Isolation is being used for things such as not carrying the right pen, this is difficult for neuro-typical children so imagine how this is for SEN children.

Multi-Academy Trusts and Free Schools are mini-worlds and can lose nurture.

There is a difference in the learning environment / investment in maintenance between North and South Schools due to some schools being PFI’s.

The Local Authority will work alongside the Regional School Commissioner (who has responsibility for Academies) to ensure there is a high quality, inclusive and equitable offer for Swindon’s children and young people with SEND. Proportionally, Swindon has a large number of specialist school places and a high percentage of EHCP’s compared to other Local Authorities. Local authorities must ensure there are sufficient good school places for all pupils, including those with SEND. On the 4th March 2017 the Department for Education (DfE) announced capital allocations specifically for capital investment in provision for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disability. Swindon was allocated £977,620 over three years from April 2018 (£325,873 per year). In May 2018, the DfE announced a further share of £50m for SEND capital investment of which Swindon received £227,353. We have worked with partner groups including SSFV to decide how this money is spent. Swindon has invested significantly in provision exclusively for SEND by committing £11.6m since 2011 on a number of capital projects. The strategy is published on the SEND Local Offer.

Sexual behaviour is dealt with in a very ‘British’ way. Please see beyond sexual language if abuse is being disclosed.

One of the key areas we have now put into our 19/20 Learning and development plan is training on cultural congruence. The aim is to help our staff to develop a greater awareness of the diverse needs, communication styles and cultural considerations for the children and families of Swindon.

Local procedures are not aligned with the Code of Practice – please review to make sure Swindon is compliant.
  • We have started to use a Quality Assurance Framework.
  • We have undertaken a process mapping exercise for all of the Assessment Teams functions to ensure compliance
  • We have undertaken a review of all correspondence used by the Assessment team to ensure compliance and accessibility of information.
  • We are recruiting a Quality Assurance Manager to oversee quality and compliance within the SEND Assessment Team.

Schools are not being funded enough to meet children’s needs, examples given include schools sharing that they do not have any funding within their budget to meet need without an EHC Plan.

We are reviewing and co-producing the funding top up allocation methodology to ensure consistent and fair allocation of resources and will implement and evaluate the impact of this. We will then publish the funding mechanisms on the Swindon Local Offer.

EHC Plan outcomes are not robust enough. Provision is not quantified and specific enough. Sections A-C are not updated regularly.

To ensure continuous improvement of the efficiency, consistency and quality of the SEND processes including assessments, issuing of plans and annual reviews we are developing a Portal and have finalised a Quality Assurance framework, which will drive up the quality of advice provided for the statutory needs assessment process and subsequently the EHC Plan.

EHC Plans do not reflect health needs. Health advice should include Adverse Child Experience (ACE) information and what health provision will be offered to meet this.
  • The health contributions towards Statutory Needs Assessments have been reviewed and amended in line with guidance from the Council for Disabled Children’s guidance on good quality health advice.
  • DMO (Designated Medical Officer) and DCO (Designated Clinical Officer) regularly attend multi-agency EHC Plan and relevant meetings and drive the quality of health input into EHCPs, Early Help Assessments, Health Plans in education settings and SEND support plans.

The SEND team do not check how schools use the money they give them for children.

This will be shared with the High Needs Funding Review Manager who will address this as part of the scheme of work being undertaken with the following objectives:

  • Better outcomes for children and young people
  • Better fit between needs and services
  • Higher satisfaction
  • Better value for money
  • Better relationships between service users and providers.

We want greater understanding and use of Personal Budgets for EHC Plans but the system is confusing.

We have reviewed the Personal Budget policy, which is now on the Local Offer. We will measure the impact of this through the uptake of personal budgets by families to support choice and control.

Pooled budgets across education, health and social care would remove unnecessary barriers.

We will publish a draft Joint Commissioning Strategy for public consultation. A protocol for tripartite funding of placements will be implemented and monitored.

Increase the capacity of the SEND Team.

It is important that the SEND team delivers a fully complaint service in relation to the statutory EHC process. We have reviewed the SEND Team so it is efficient, effective and compliant with the SEND Reforms. The team is going through a restructure and new team members have been appointed to increase the staffing of the team. The phone line is now open all day Mon-Fr 01793 464641. There is one phone number for the whole team.

Professional reports towards Annual Reviews and towards cross agency working for other meetings like Child Protection Plans. We want good cross border arrangements for example a Swindon child is registered at a Wiltshire GP practice or a Swindon child is attending a Wiltshire school for Educational Psychology and Paediatric Therapy services as this currently provides barriers to accessing appropriate assessment, provision and funding.
  • An advice writer for EHC Plans workshop has been held and another planned to support professionals in having the skills and knowledge to provide the right advice at the right time.
  • The service specification and support services review is underway. These specifications will include cross border arrangements.

Schools and the Local Authority do not accept private professional reports.

The School and LA consider all advice and information available to them regarding children and young people’s needs and how best to meet them.

Does transition to adulthood start in Year 9, 10 or 11? There is a lack of consistency in what parents are being told, the conversations being held at reviews and when referrals are being made.

We will remind all settings of the Transitions Protocol through our communication channels such as the SEND Newsletter, SENCo Champions and Network.

Transition is not happening as it should so this is having an impact on how the Local Authority plans and the experiences of young people in housing, social care services, employment.

Planning Live rolled out to all Special Resource Provisions to support preparation for adulthood

  • A workshop was held at the SENCo Network in May 19 regarding person centred planning including transition.
  • A transition protocol is published on the Local Offer and reviewed annually.
  • A transition strategy that links with the SEND Commissioning Strategy will be developed.
There used to have a transitions team in schools that worked well, where has this gone?

The role of the Youth Engagement Worker (YEW) was developed in Swindon in April 2011. This work force is a team of highly skilled practitioners with a range of backgrounds from youth work to careers advice, counselling and education. The main focus of their work is to support young people into education, employment and training by identifying the barriers to progression. Acknowledging that employment and education is one of the major protective and resilience factors for a young person, YEWs work with the identified NEET population, those young people who are identified as being at risk of being NEET in year 11, and young people who are engaged in high risk taking behaviours. Youth Engagement Workers have extensive experience of working successfully with hard to reach and vulnerable young people. The basis of all their work is to develop productive, effective and professional relationships with young people to create opportunities for successful outcomes. Their work with young people is needs led, undertaking on-going assessment and employing a solutions focused approach to their intervention. Transitional arrangements between children and Adult Care Services (including Health Services) will be reviewed to provide a more seamless process for assessment and support in preparation for adulthood.

Transition events do not have enough employers who are willing to take on people with SEND.

Young people with SEND who are seeking employment should register with Building Bridges. Contact details for the programme are: Telephone Number: 01793 464770 Email: supportedemployment@swindon.gov.uk. This programme works with young people to identify their work preferences and actively seeks employers that best match the young persons’ need. Trained Employment Coaches work with the employers to ensure relevant work teams are trained and supported in order to facilitate a successful entry into the workplace. Many employers want to take on people with SEND if they are given appropriate training and support. Building Bridges attend the Transitions Roadshows and usually have with them a young person who has been successful in gaining employment. The young person is able to tell parents and young people about his or her journey into work.

There is a lack of work experience for young people with SEND. SEND children and young people need mentors and good strong role models.

A group of Swindon Borough Council (SBC) managers is currently drawing on existing good practice in SBC to develop resources that can be used by managers who are new to offering work experience. An internal campaign will be run in May / June 2019 to encourage managers new to offering work experience placements to engage and consider what would be possible in their work area. This development work will include the offer of awareness and training sessions for staff.

The Virtual School is very ‘virtual’. How are Swindon implementing their new requirements for adoptive children?

Swindon Virtual School has implemented the new requirements for previously Looked After Children since February 2018. Information and Guidance was made available on the web site for Parents, Guardians and Carers. Training Programme delivered termly to support improving educational outcomes for previously Looked after Children and Children Looked After to all education settings, Governing Boards and parents, carers. Fostering Team supported Virtual School through contacting and inviting where known, all carers, parents and guardians. VS Educational Handbook devised and available on web site. Additionally Fostering Team sent individually to all known parents, carers and guardians. All education settings/children services received updated guidance documentation and sources of further advice.

In June 2019, Swindon SEND Families Voice raised concerns over the process for applying for a Blue Badge on the Council website.The website has been changed to make the application process easier.

For more information and feedback CLICK HERE

To apply for Blue Badge please see the Travel pages on the SEND Local Offer

The Disabled Children’s Team social workers are excellent. However there are frequent changes of social workers across teams. Our children and families need continuity not instability.

We have created a dedicated project group and improvement plan to address the stability of our workforce, this includes a targeted recruitment and retention plan and creating a Social Work Academy.

 

2018

You said... We Did...
Parents requested a comprehensive Preparing for Adulthood section built around the life outcomes: Health; Employment; Education; Social Inclusion and Independent Living Working with professionals across different service areas and parents through our focus group, we designed and delivered a Preparing for Adulthood section that was clear and concise whilst holding all the relevant information.
Through our Learning Disability Forum, Young People requested more services listed for people with Autism. Following feedback from the Forum we went out into the community and identified providers offering a support service for those with Autism. As a result of this we were able to list a variety of services and support groups in our marketplace. We also created an information section providing guidance for families.  
Parents asked for the site to be modified in order to make it easier to navigate.  We integrated a Google Search facility so that users can search the whole site without having to click through several levels. Parents have commented that this has made the site much more user friendly and easier to navigate. 
Parents asked us to add information on the EHC Plan pathway so that they could easily understand the process in Swindon. We commissioned and co-produced with parents and professionals, a video animation demonstrating the Swindon EHC Plan process in a way that is clear and easy to follow. The animation went live in August 2016.
SENCos requested a professional's page on the Local Offer that incorporated quick access tabs for paperwork and guidance. We created a 'Professional Guidance' page incorporating relevant forms and a list of guidance documents. Now professionals can find everything they're looking for in one place.  

 

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