Somerset County Council and NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group are working in partnership to improve Somerset’s services for children and young people (aged 0 to 25) with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND). The work  taking place is outlined within the Written Statement of Action (WSoA) and divided into Improvement Priority (IP) areas.

What is Improvement Priority 1 and why does it matter? 

Improvement Priority 1 – Listening to Children, Young People and their families

Its only by listening to our children and young people with SEND and their families, that we will understand what we need to do to help them achieve their goals in life.

The focus of Improvement Priority 1 (IP1) is to improve how we listen to children and young people with SEND and their families when making improvements to the area. This area of work is woven through the whole Written Statement of Action as all improvements need to be based on an understanding of what it is like for families in Somerset.

What are we aiming for?

We want our children and young people with SEND and their families to feel listened to and involved in the decisions that affect them.

What is being done to make this happen? 

The IP1 group meets monthly to review progress and plan engagement with families. We are linked closely with the other improvement areas, offering support and challenge to help ensure the voices of children and young people with SEND and their families are being listened to.

We also meet weekly to organise the SEND newsletter, update Somerset’s Local Offer, plan and support communications across the Written Statement of Action.

We have recruited 72 Inclusion Champions who are undergoing training to work with and support our children, young people and their families across Somerset.
Find out more about the Inclusion Champions here

What has been done so far? 

  • We have talked to over 200 members of staff across the area to understand the barriers they face to working with local families.
  • We have reviewed the feedback we have from children, young people and their families about their experiences of working with staff and the systems in Somerset.
  • We have delivered training to staff about engaging with families including the importance of language, listening to the families experience and using this to inform their practice.
  • The SEND Improvement Board unanimously agreed that everyone is to use a range of ways to gather feedback from children, young people and their families. This includes telling you how you can get involved, what will happen with your feedback and how you will know what has been changed from your feedback.
  • The following listening events have taken place January to May:
    • WSOA Questions and Answers led by senior leaders
    • Listening events on Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP) and Outcomes Framework
    • Inclusion inquiry listening events (linked with IP6)
    • Events to help develop the pre-assessment pathway for Autism/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD​) (linked with IP5)
  • The SEND Improvement Board receives updates monthly from either the Unstoppables or  the Somerset Parent Carer Forum. These updates have helped us see a potential gap in provision for children and young people with SEND and mental health support. A working group is now trying to understand the problem fully and then make a plan to address. Subjects have included:​
    • What it’s like to be a young person with SEND​
    • Feedback from engagement events​
    • Who coordinates our support and how?​
    • Families Lived Experience​
    • Language surrounding SEND​
  • Updates to Somerset’s Local Offer and publication of the annual report.
  • Children and young people from Elmwood and Penrose school along with the Unstoppables shared their views on what is important to them. 218 practitioners and 96 parent carers similarly fed their views into the development of the Outcomes Framework which has now been approved by the SEND Improvement Board.
  • Work has started to align some systems in education, social care and health, so you don’t have to keep repeating your information. This includes ensuring all the protocols for sharing information is in place, so you are protected. Education, Health and Care plans now also have the NHS number on to help this. Work is also underway to help us understand what else can be done to make things easier, so you don’t have to repeat your story.
  • We have done lots of research and spoken to people about what they need from Somerset’s Local Offer. We had an event in July to tell you about the findings and get your help to plan what we do next. We are raising awareness of information on the Local Offer and services within the Local Offer in our Local Offer Live events during February. In the new year we are establishing a Local Offer user group to support with the development work.
  • We have listened to feedback from families and our staff helped people to understand what we mean by engagement and co-production. We have developed a Collaboration Framework and relaunched our participation toolkit to help people measure how well they are doing and what they could do better.
  • A wisdom Council of Unstoppables members who have left due to age has been established. They will start work on their first project in January 2022.
  • The SPOT and therapies services are continuing to take forward the feedback from families and make improvements to services. The therapies services are trialling a process of appointments in clinic rather than school to increase involvement of families.

Who is involved? 

Where can I find out more? 

Get in touch

If you have any questions or would like to tell us about your experiences of using SEND in Somerset, you can contact the IP1 Team by email:

You can also contact the Parent Carer Forum.
Phone: 01458 259384 or 07543 680365
Text: 07543 680365

Last reviewed:June 27, 2022 byJennifer

Next review due:December 27, 2022

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