Special Educational Needs and Disability

The Children and Families Act 2014 requires ICBs and local authorities to work together to provide appropriate support in respect of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). 

One of the requirements of this legislation is to provide clear and transparent information about the services in respect of education, health and social care for children, young people and parents/carers. This is known as the Local Offer and is available on the Somerset Choices website.

Area inspection by OFSTED and CQC

Information about the inspection

1 December 2020

Services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) and their families in Somerset reached an important milestone this week, with the publication of a plan for rapid improvement.

Somerset County Council (SCC) and NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) were set by Inspectors, the task of working closely with children and young people, their parent carers and professionals to draw up a plan for improving each of these areas and the culture and practices which underpin them.

The Written Statement of Action (WSoA) outlines how we are going to work together to ensure improvements are made to the SEND System in Somerset. Ofsted/CQC will expect to see these improvements delivered within 18 to 24 months when they will reinspect the Local Area. It is our blueprint for change in SEND services. The WSoA was co-produced with parent carers, young people, lead SEND professionals across the County Council and CCG, all SEND staff, school governing bodies, education staff and voluntary bodies.

Many individual parents and young people offered their views and support, including more than 750 parents who responded to a Somerset Parent Carer Forum survey, this was particularly heartening, especially during the heart of the Covid-19 pandemic when you were all juggling so many different things including home schooling. We would like to wholeheartedly thank all those who took time to contribute to the work and helped to ensure the voices of parents are heard.

The foundation for the WSoA is the Somerset SEND 0 to 25 Charter which is about partners working effectively together and putting parent carers and children at the heart of service planning and new service design to ensure all families get the services they need.

All partners (SCC, NHS and Schools) have committed to:

  • Work more closely with children and young people with SEND and their families to understand and learn from their experiences as we develop strategies to improve the area.
  • Further improve leadership capacity across services in Somerset to provide effective support to children with SEND.
  • Continue to strengthen and embed partnership working across Education, the NHS, Public Health and Social Care.
  • Improve joint commissioning arrangements between Somerset County Council and the NHS, improving leaders’ ability to ensure they are meeting area needs as well as improving outcomes and achieving cost efficiencies.
  • Develop our pathway for children and young people with autistic spectrum disorder to address the poor service too many families are receiving.
  • Extend inclusive practice in schools across the local area and in turn reduce exclusion rates which currently mean too many children and young people are not accessing education.
  • Improve the outcomes for all children with SEND, through ensuring effective identification of needs and the right support to make a difference to children.
  • Ensure that multi-professional assessment and planning required for Education, Health and Care Plans is carried out more swiftly.
  • Ensure that the quality of professional input for Education, Health and Care Plans is at a consistently high level.

The WSoA details how the local area will address these areas for improvement and sets out milestones to ensure that these are achieved.

Progress will be reported monthly to the SEND Improvement Board (SIB). You can read the Terms of Reference for the SIB here.

The Department of Education and NHS Regional Advisors sit on the SIB so will provide support and challenge to the area on a monthly basis. In addition to the monthly meetings, they will hold formal quarterly monitoring meetings.

If the Regional Advisors have concerns about the implementation and/or progress of the delivery of the WSoA, they are able to call intervention meetings and/or refer Somerset back to Ofsted/CQC.

We know that in the past some families in Somerset have not had the support they need and that it’s vital we now deliver the improvements outlined in the statement. You can read the statement by clicking on the link below.

You will see that there are a lot of improvements required within the WSoA, many of which support the infrastructure of the whole SEND system, this will mean that it may take some time for families to see the improvements and feel the benefits of the system improvements but please do be reassured that we are fully committed to making a difference.

What can I do if I think my child has SEND?

We commission a variety of services that can support children with SEND and their families. These are listed below with links to the providers where you can find further information. Note that some of these services will require a referral from a GP or health care professional. If you would like to contact someone to help explain any of the services, please contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service, or the Somerset Parent Carer Forum. Alternatively, you can find information on parenting children of all ages, including specific information relating to SEND at the Somerset Children and Young People, Health and Wellbeing website, which includes a Parent and Carer Toolkit.

Other services that are commissioned by us include:

In addition to the services detailed above, some people might be entitled to a Personal Health Budget (PHB). A PHB is money that can be used to support the health and wellbeing needs, such as particular treatments, equipment or personal care. Not everyone is entitled to a PHB and you can find further information about Personal Health Budgets at NHS Choices. If you would like to discuss PHBs in more detail, please contact us.

You can find further information about the duties of SEND, view the government’s code of practice, or view the duties specific to Health Care Plans (HCPs).

If you wish to know more about the SEND Reforms which were introduced in 2014, Dorset County Council has created the video below explaining the key changes to SEND.

Joint Commissioning

In line with the guiding principles outlined in Somerset’s Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) Strategy for Children and Young People ages 0-25, we have published our joint commissioning strategy in partnership with Somerset County Council and Somerset Parent Carer Forum.

SEND Newsletters

Somerset County Council regularly publishes a SEND newsletter which gives information about the activities that are taking place across education, health and social care in Somerset.

SEND Inspection 2020

A report into how well Somerset meets the needs of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and their families was published in May 2020 by Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education) and Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Inspectors visited and undertook a joint inspection of SEND Services in the local area of Somerset in March. They judged how well the local area has worked together to put the 2014 SEND reforms into place which includes services that are available to support children and young people with SEND.