To ensure Somerset’s Local Offer is accessible to all, we need to focus on increasing confidence in our SEND services, in particular removing barriers to using universal services and empowering families to promote their independence.
We want every child and young person to have the greatest possible opportunity to be the best they can be, to be happy, and have choice and control over their life. The Somerset SEND Strategy and SEND Charter tells you about how we plan to work together across services to improve Somerset’s services for children and young people (aged 0 to 25) with SEND so that we have a coherent service that meets the needs of families.
We need to transform our services and work together to make sure that the child or young person is at the centre of everything we do across Somerset. We commit to providing high quality SEND provision by ensuring our services and staff are accessible and approachable, supporting the use of universal language wherever possible. Communication will be clear and open, ensuring information is shared effectively, helpful signposting is in place and clarity given over roles and responsibilities.
We are trying to change the focus from measuring what is done, to measuring the impact of what is done. This will help to make sure that improvements are making a real difference to children and young people with SEND and their families. Shared outcomes are important to make sure that services are all working towards the same aims.
Our aim is to use the standard contract process to record agreements reached to support joint working arrangements. This will enable commissioners to make sure their providers support them in their responsibilities to embed inclusive provision. To help this all key performance indictors (KPIs) and outcomes measures within existing contracts will be reviewed against SEND strategy and Joint Commissioning Strategy to ensure consistency and accountability across contracts. This means it doesn’t matter which service families are accessing, they can have the same expectations.
Somerset Graduated Response Tool makes it clear ‘what to expect’ in terms of what is provided by educational settings, and are written for parents, children and young people, school staff and those who provide services to families. Somerset’s Accessibility Strategy and Schools Access Initiative provides funding to a mainstream school to improve its accessibility for a specified individual disabled pupil. This is where the costs are high and it is clear the costs cannot be met any other way.
Sometimes we all need someone to help us get our voice heard, whether it is in a meeting about your child or young person or you may be a child or young person needing to have someone who is independent and not related that can make sure that their ideas and visions are heard. Advocacy doesn’t always have to be provided by paid professionals. Often people take a friend or family member with them to important meetings with doctors, social workers or other professionals, to give them moral support and to speak up on their behalf. But there are also organisations and services designed to support people to have their feelings and frustrations heard. These people are usually known as advocates.