As part of the work to improve SEND services, Somerset County Council invited local area partners (schools, parent carers, young people and NHS Somerset) to join them for an Inclusion Summit in October 2022.
The summit’s main focuses were to develop a Somerset definition of inclusion, to take a broad look of current barriers to inclusion and what is working well.
The day's activities centred around three main questions:
- What is Inclusion and why does it matter?
- What are the main barriers to inclusion?
- What is working well that can be built upon?
We had a great turn out, with 144 attendees eager to take part in the day's activities including 8 students from a local secondary school and our Young Person's Champions.
The following is a summary of ideas and thoughts from our attendees:
What is inclusion?
Our first question was "what is inclusion?" The group agreed that inclusion should include:
- Celebrating diversity
- Prioritising community involvement
- Sense of belonging
- Breaking down barriers to participation
Groups were asked to consider what was already working well to promote inclusion in Somerset.
A range of responses reflected on:
- The importance of improved communication
- The value of local services
- Recent developments such as the graduated response tool
- The support available to develop relational policy and practice
At the end of the day our attendees were asked what they will do to improve inclusion. We had a range of responses, some examples were:
- "Develop an alternative education offer that aims to support young people to build relationships and engage with school as much as possible"
- "Collaborate and encourage inclusion"
- "Ask questions to gain an understanding of the focus for SEND"
- "Continue to provide after school clubs and activities for young people with autism and their families"
- "Use of positive language and inclusive role-modelling in community scenarios fighting to ensure young people with additional needs and requirements receive an equal service"
- "Think about wider context when working with students, social, community etc"
- "Ensuring every adult in the school understands the role of inclusion"
- "Ensure my team are having more conversations with schools to support them around medical needs so children with health needs can be better included"
We will consider the feedback to inform service developments and the Somerset SEND strategy.