The latest updates on the improvements being made to services for children and young people with special education needs and disabilities in Warwickshire.
In July 2021, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out a joint inspection of special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) provision in Warwickshire.
On 23 September 2021, the inspectors issued their findings. Whilst several areas were commended, including the commitment of area leaders to improve the outcomes for children and young people with SEND, the report also highlighted five areas of weaknesses that the local area needed to address, particularly waiting times for autism assessments and the quality of the online local offer.
Since the release of the report, Warwickshire County Council and Coventry and Warwickshire Integrated Care Board have been working together with a range of partners to improve the delivery of services provided, with the support of Warwickshire Parent Carer Voice, the Parent Carer Forum.
Key updates from the latest review meeting with the Department for Education and NHS England in October 2022 are as follows:
Area 1: Autism waiting times and support for families:
More assessments are being carried out and waiting times for assessments are reducing.
A new e-booklet for Neurodivergent individuals and their families has been published on the Dimensions website and an online information portal is being developed which will provide essential information, advice and support for families.
A new model is being trialled to improve the process of assessment and diagnosis for children in years 5 and 6.
The all-age community support service for neurodivergent individuals is being recommissioned and has an anticipated start date of 1 April 2023. It will provide a single point of referral for diagnosis and ensure individuals are supported whilst awaiting an assessment.
A review of Speech and Language Therapy and a skills audit of mental health staff supporting children and young people have been carried out and the findings will be used to improve services.
Area 2: Communication and engagement with parent carers:
A wide programme of communications and events continues including:
Parent carer webinars - the most recent focused on the Health Visiting Service, Early Conversations and Speech and Language provision. Future events to include SENDIAS, Preparation for Adulthood and the RISE service.
A Young People's Local Offer event recently took place and a Young People's Forum - IMPACT, has been created to capture the voice of children and young people.
A You Said We did update has been published on Warwickshire’s Local Offer website and a Live Feedback Form has been developed to capture the views of parent carers and practitioners on SEND services.
Area 3: Inclusion in schools:
An Inclusion Framework for Schools being trialled across 17 Rugby schools continues to go well. Training is being delivered to schools to help them support children and young people with SEND.
An Inclusion Charter for schools is being co-produced with school leads, parent carers and children and young people. The charter will outline the vision and commitments to inclusion in schools and settings. Contact, the charity for families with disabled children, has helped to facilitate this work based on the Four Cornerstones approach to co-production.
Area 4: Workforce development:
Following a review of the current offer, an exciting free training programme is being offered by Warwickshire County Council to schools including mental health first aid, restorative practice, and autism awareness training initially. The training will help to provide a better understanding of how to meet the needs of children and young people including those with SEND. All the courses offered are free to professionals working within a Warwickshire school.
The Lost at School pilot is going well, with 35 schools now on board to help change how we support young people with concerning behaviour and unmet need.
Area 5: SEND Local Offer webpages:
The SEND Local Offer webpages provide information about local services and support for families with children and young people aged 0 to 25 with SEND. There has been a 60% increase in visitors to the webpages and flyers to promote the service have been shared with GPs, schools and other community venues.
Talking about the continued progress, Councillor Kam Kaur, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for education said:
“We had some very real challenges ahead at the start of the Written Statement of Action, but I am pleased to see that by working together we are making a difference for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities across Warwickshire.
“The Lost in Schools Pilot, developed by Dr Ross Greene has been well received by parents, carers and schools and although in its early stages, we are already seeing the difference a new approach to supporting young people can make.
“We appreciate that there are significant challenges ahead and we know and understand that we can’t change everything overnight, but we remain committed to working in partnership, increasing co-production, and building on the expertise within the system to improve outcomes for all children, young people and their families in Warwickshire.”
Gabrielle Stacey, from the Department for Education said:
“Warwickshire continue to work with determination and pace on improvements following their Ofsted/CQC SEND inspection in July last year. They are making visible progress against all of the key concerns, with mitigation plans or appropriate and achievable deadlines in place where they have encountered unanticipated risks or delays. This work is underpinned by a shared aspirational vision for children and young people with SEND in the local area, and a strong and continually improving relationship with their Parent Carer Forum.
“Improvements in coproduction are leading to deep and sustainable culture change within the Local Authority and there is recognition that further improvements are needed within health to ensure this is consistent across the partnership. Collaboration between all partners involved in the work is evident and the local area is playing to its strengths to maintain pace and ensure ongoing improvement.”
Tracy Pilcher, Chief Nursing Officer, NHS Coventry and Warwickshire Integrated Care Board, said:
“NHS Coventry and Warwickshire Integrated Care Board continues to work hard with partners to ensure that all children and young people in Coventry and Warwickshire with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities [SEND] receive the care and support that they need in a timely manner. We know that there is still much work to do, both to support those with an autism diagnosis and to support those without a diagnosis who are waiting for an assessment.
“By working closely with our partners across health, care, education and the third sector, and by listening to and engaging with children, their parents and their families, we will deliver our plans and make sure that we provide the best possible services for children and young people, enabling them to thrive in their education.”
Elaine Lambe from Warwickshire Parent Carer Voice said:
“It is good to see the progress of the Written Statement of Action work has been recognised externally. The challenge now for the system is to keep up the momentum and to make sure that the changes make a positive difference that can be felt by families on the ground.
“We will continue to work collaboratively with the local authority and the Integrated Care Board to ensure the voice of families is consistently heard and listened to."
For more information on Warwickshire’s Local Offer, please visit the Local Offer webpages or the Local Offer Facebook page.