Support for children and young people with SEND to undergo a ‘system-wide transformation

The partnership responsible for services supporting children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) has listened to families and expanded its SEND improvement plans to create ‘system-wide’ change.

It follows a recommendation by the Children’s Scrutiny Committee SEND Task Group and reflects what families have told the County Council about the current system of SEND support. 

The commitment, made in a meeting last week (14 September) by the Devon SEND Improvement Partnership Board, of which the Council are a part, means that Devon will look at not just areas of weakness identified by Ofsted and Care Quality Commission but at the whole experience.    

At the meeting Board members said that they had ‘listened to families and politicians’ and gave their approval to deliver a ‘system-wide’ transformation programme.

This programme, they said, would address the significant challenges that the local area faces, improve the experiences of children, young people and their families in Devon and lead to the financial sustainability of the council.

The plans include a focus on getting the right help early on, and in a timely way, so that children and young people are supported to attend their local schools as much as possible. Additionally, there is a commitment to deliver a clear strategy that will focus on every stage of a child’s life from early years right through to post-16 support and preparing for adulthood.

Dr Nigel Acheson, Chief Medical Officer for NHS Devon, said:

“We are fully supportive of these plans and will be looking at how we further develop effective ways of working with our council partners.

“Our focus will be on building services that help children and young people achieve their goals in life and ensuring they aren’t held back by their health issues.”

Councillor Lois Samuel, the newly appointed Cabinet member for SEND improvement, said: 

“I recognise that what children and their parents experience on a day-to-day basis does not match the level of service we would want to deliver.

“We have listened to parents and understand that tinkering around the edges is not going to deliver the improvements that are needed and that is why is I fully support a compete system-wide transformation of how the service is managed and delivered.”

Stuart Collins, the new permanent Director of Children and Young People’s Futures at Devon County Council, said:

“We know, from what parents and young people are telling us and from our data and intelligence, that the current improvement activity alone will not drive the significant change required. We need everyone working together with a clear vision of what good looks like so that children and young people with SEND, and their families, receive the right support at the right time and in the right place so they can thrive.”

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