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 9 and why does it matter?
Improvement Priority 9 (IP9) is about setting out robust quality assurance practice into all areas of SEND statutory processes. Regular audits and reporting mechanisms will show us the quality of service provided to families and education settings, seeking consideration for and Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP). It will also show where we have more chance to get the views of families, and how these are reflected in key decisions and planning.
Through quality assurance processes, we can learn about our strengths and where improvements can be made. This may include:
- The first contact with a family, who have requested an EHC assessment, and their experiences of the assessment process.
- The EHCP annual review process to make sure the right people are involved and providing advice.
- EHCPs are written so that the provision is targeted and specific, helping children and young people to be fully supported to achieve their goals and aspirations and meet all needs.
What are we aiming for?
- Making sure that families’ views and aspirations are central to the development of EHCPs.
- Increasing confidence that families are receiving the best possible experience, when requesting assessments for EHCPs, and they are fully supported to understand the purpose and meaning of EHCPs.
- Making sure that professional advice and contributions to EHC assessments and annual reviews are consistent and good quality.
- Enabling children and young people to have their needs met, and to achieve their goals and aspirations by receiving the best possible support at the right time.
- Support all local authority colleagues involved with EHCPs.
What is being done to make this happen?
- A multi-agency audit group will use learning from audits to improve work in each organisation.
- Families will be able to share their experiences at key points in the EHC assessment and plan process.
- The Statutory SEND Team will regularly audit contributions to EHCP assessments and annual reviews from statutory partners.
- A review of the initial contact process (where a request for an EHC assessment has been made) will help us to understand how we communicate with and support families.
- New training will make sure staff can improve their skills.
- SEND Practice Standards will be created and used to provide clear expectations and share good practice.
- Mini internal inspections will be undertaken occasionally to help understand what they are doing well and in what areas they need focus for improvement within the Statutory SEND Team.
What has been done so far?
- Established a multi-agency audit group and to audit the contributions towards the development of EHCPs.
- A Good Practice process has been drafted and is ready for wider consultation.
- Quality assurance audits are being used to understand how statutory partners are contributing to the EHCP annual review process.
- Children and young people are being asked through small surveys how they feel about their EHCP, so we can provide extra materials to support with this.
- The initial communication we have with families, following a request for an EHCP assessment, has been improved. This will ensure families are better supported at the very earliest stage of their EHCP journey.
- Parent carers now have an opportunity to share their views of the assessment process. Key themes and learning from this will be taken forward to the Statutory SEND team and the IP9 operational delivery group.
- The Learning and Development Team are using the audit work to create training packages and development opportunities.
- Practice Standards have been drafted and are being reviewed with the Somerset Parent Carer Forum and with young people.
Who is involved?
The Children’s Social Care Service Improvement Team are working with the Statutory SEND Team, the Partnership Business Unit, and the Learning and Development Team.
The multi-agency audit group and the operational delivery group include representatives from NHS Clinical Commissioning, Occupational Therapy, Head Teachers, SENCOs, Educational Psychology, the Virtual School, Children with Disabilities Service and the Family Intervention Service.
We are actively collaborating with the Somerset Parent Carer Forum, alongside children and young people, to support the writing of audit questions, involvement with surveys, and to provide feedback to us about their experiences.