ūüĎČ Latest News... 20 September

Would you like to view this email in a web page? Click here

SEND improvement banner

The Cumbria SEND Improvement Programme has been created by Cumbria County Council, NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group, working with Cumbria Parent Carer Forum, to respond to recommendations from Ofsted/CQC following their 2019 inspection of SEND services in Cumbria. 


Dan Barton

"Last week we received a response from Ofsted to our draft Written Statement of Action that we submitted to them towards the end of August. They have said they would like us to do some further work to develop it, particularly being more detailed about some of the activity we're planning and the timescales for delivering them. We're taking that on board and will have a plan submitted by 8 October. This doesn't give us much time, but we are committed to engaging with parents/carers on the revised plan (there's more about this later in this newsletter). It's important we get this right as its the bedrock for the whole programme.

"I am excited about the work around engaging with all parents/carers that is being developed by the Co-production and Engagement Working Group. I hope there'll be some opportunities very soon to get out and about in the county to meet with people and discuss how we can move things forward. 

"As ever, please let us know if you'd like any additional information about any aspect of the programme."

Dan Barton, Assistant Director - Education & Skills at Cumbria County Council and lead officer for the SEND Improvement Programme

eNewsletter Contents

sign up button

Keep up to date with the Cumbria SEND Improvement Programme

To keep up to date with the latest, get involved and access more detailed information sign up to receive future editions of this e-newsletter.

We have also created pages on the Local Offer website to hold all the information about the programme so that it is accessible to all.

Approach agreed for Ofsted response


The first requirement by Ofsted/CQC following their inspection, was for the three lead agencies to produce a plan, the Written Statement of Action, which sets out how we will respond to the recommendations made in the inspection report. The draft WSoA was submitted to the Department for Education on 21 August.

On 10 September Ofsted provided feedback and they now expect us to carry out further work to revise and develop the plan. A revised plan must be submitted to Ofsted by 8 October. 

Involving parents and carers

In developing the original Written Statement of Action parents/carers were critical of their level of involvement. We have acknowledged this and want to ensure that parents/carers have opportunity to contribute to the revised version of the Written Statement of Action. 

To try and ensure parents/carers can contribute meaningfully, the approach below has been agreed by the Engagement and Co-production Working Group in discussion with its two lead parent/carer representatives:

  • Reference Group members (see story below) have been invited to provide feedback on the WSoA as it is now, taking account of Ofsted‚Äôs feedback by 27 September.
  • In each Working Group the four parent/carer representatives have been invited to work with each other to review the specific actions for their Working Group in the current WSoA, and provide feedback to the Chair of their Working Group by 27 September.
  • A meeting of all Working Group Chairs will be held in week commencing 30 September to review progress with the updated plan. The two Improvement Board parent/carer representatives have been invited to attend that meeting, along with Shirley Murphy as Chair of Cumbria Parent Care Forum.
  • At the Reference Group development session on 4 October in Kendal the revised draft WSoA will be shared with the group. By this time only minor amendments will be possible in order to be able to meet Ofsted‚Äôs deadline of 8 October.

It is the view of the SEND Improvement Board that broadly the actions in the WSoA are the right actions, but that more work is needed to provide detail and clarity on how improvement will be measured and the timescales we are working to. So this is not about a complete rewrite of the plan but developing what we have.

The revised draft Written Statement of Action will be shared widely once it has been submitted to Ofsted.

Parent/carer representatives confirmed

working group image

In August there was an open invitation to parents/carers to express an interest in getting directly involved with the six Working Groups that are delivering the SEND Improvement Programme. 44 parents/carers put their names forward.

Following a process agreed with those parent/carers at a meeting on 16 August, 24 people were selected to become part of the six Working Groups, four per group. While only two are expected to attend any particular meeting, having four representatives means hopefully there should always be someone available to attend. All four are welcome to attend the Working Group should they wish. The representatives for each group are listed in the table below.

All parent/carer Working Group representatives and the parents/carers who were not selected are also now part of a wider SEND Improvement Programme Parent/Carer Reference Group who will be used as a 'sounding board' and sense-checker for the programme. This is all in addition to the wider programme of engagement and co-production with parent/carers that is being developed.

Feedback so far

Representatives have now attended some of the Working Group meetings and have provided feedback on their experiences. This has been mixed, with some positives but also areas where we need to work differently to ensure parent/carer representatives are able to contribute fully. This is a priority for us and all Working Group Chairs are meeting to agree a consistent approach.

Working Group Chair Parent/Carer representatives

Understanding of local need

Fiona Musgrave, Assistant Director Partnerships and Integration, CCC
  • Laura Corkill - Barrow¬†¬† ¬†
  • Sarah Bisson - Eden¬†
  • Rachel Henderson - Barrow ¬†
  • Rebecca Mullins - Carlisle

Commissioning and access to provision

(Acting) Jo Atkinson, Assistant Director Commissioning, CCC
  • Carole Woodman - Copeland¬†¬† ¬†
  • Hayley Stewart - Carlisle ¬†
  • Emma Crabtree - Barrow ¬†
  • George Bell - South Lakes

Engagement and co-production

David Blaclock, Chief Executive, People First
  • Charlotte Wight - South Lakes¬†¬† ¬†
  • Rachael Hannah Davies - Allerdale ¬†
  • Kerryanne Wilde - Eden
  • ¬†Rosie Brown - Barrow

Preparation for adulthood

Dan Barton, Assistant Director Education and Skills, CCC
  • Gill Ireland - Carlisle¬†¬†
  • ¬†Louise Coombs - Barrow
  • ¬†Karen Whittingham - South Lakes
  • Shirley Murphy - Allerdale

Emotional health and well-being

Colin Cox, Director Public Health, CCC
  • ¬†Christina Bowman - Eden
  • Hayley Tancred - Eden ¬†
  • Juliet Buchanan - Copeland
  • Rachael Fredricks - Barrow

SEN support

Mary Mulligan, Senior Manager - Inclusion, CCC
  • ¬†Jacqueline E Woodburn - Copeland¬†¬† ¬†
  • Tracy Graham - Allerdale¬†
  • Charlotte Preston - Barrow¬†
  • Vacancy

Reference Group development session - all welcome

reference group

4 October, 10am- 2pm, Kendal

The SEND Improvement Programme Parent/Carer Reference Group will be holding a half-day development session on 4 October.

As well as discussing progress so far and next steps, at the meeting there will be a Q&A session with the Independent Chair of the Improvement Board Linda Clegg and senior representatives from Cumbria County Council and local NHS.

There is an open invitation to any other parents/carers to join the Reference Group. To register your interest please complete the online form:

Parent/carer surveys taking shape

questionnaire survey

One of the first big pieces of work that is planned for the SEND Improvement Programme is to carry out a survey of parents/carers about the experiences they and their children have had of SEND services in Cumbria.

It is important to stress that this is just one part of the plan to engage with parents/carers and we know its is the face to face conversations that can often be most valuable.

Because Cumbria County Council have address details for parent/carers with a child with an EHCP (around 3000 people) we are able to send a questionnaire in the post. For children who receive SEN Support address details are not held centrally, so we will be using an online survey and working through schools and networks to distribute the survey and gather the views of these parent/carers.

This will happen during November.

The questionnaire will be developed with the parent/carers on the Reference Group and will help us establish how things are now, and give us a baseline against which we can measure ourselves in future. This will help us see if the SEND Improvement Programme is making a difference.

To make sure we get an accurate picture of how things are it is important that parent/carers complete and return the questionnaire. If only a small number do so then the information it provides will not be representative.

There will be more information about the surveys in the next eNewsletter.

Meet the Councillors

The SEND Improvement Programme is being led by an Improvement Board. The Board is lead by an independent Chairperson, Linda Clegg, and includes Elected Members, parent/carer representatives and senior officers from Cumbria County Council and the NHS. The two Elected Members on the Board are Councillor Anne Burns, Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Councillor Sue Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning. Both have a long standing commitment to improving services for children and families.

sue sanderson campaigning

Cllr Sue Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning

"I've spent a large part of my career working in special educational needs, including as headteacher at Brookfield School. I'm passionate about this area of work and know how vital it is that we get the support right for children and their parents/carers. Through my role on the Board I will be supporting and challenging our teams to deliver the improvements necessary."

Cllr Anne Burns, Cabinet Member for Children's Services

"As the council's Cabinet Member for Children's Services  I've met many parents/carers of children with SEND. I've seen the challenges people face and how struggling to access services adds an additional and hugely frustrating burden to people's lives. We really must get better and I will be pushing hard to achieve that."

anne burns

SEND News>>SEND News>>SEND News

young girl

Young People's SEND Forums getting going

Young people with SEND are getting involved in local forums organised by Cumbria County Council to have their say on issues that affect them.

There are 3 forums that meet twice a year in their local area and annual countywide meeting. The groups have been running for just a few months and there have been about 30 young people involved so far countywide. So far they have discussed what is working well, what is not working so well and what they would like to change.  Carlisle and Eden have just set their priorities and will begin working on them properly at the end of the year. The next round of local meetings are in November.

This year's countywide meeting is being held in Penrith on 27 September.

+ FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: liz.wright@cumbria.gov.uk

mental health

Invitation to mental health discussion event

Parents and carers of children from South Cumbria (including Millom) are invited to have a solution focused discussion with health services and health commissioners about how we can better meet the mental health needs of children and young people who have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). 

The event takes place on 24 September, 10am-12pm at Hindpool Community Centre.

Please note that this event is for South Cumbria parents and carers only, there will be similar events held up in the north of the county, dates TBC.

Please register for the event so that we know how many brews and biscuits to provide!

+ FOR MORE INFORMATION: alison.may@morecambebayccg.nhs.uk


Feedback requested on co-production resources

People First’s Co-production group has created some helpful easy-read co-production guides which have been added to the Coproduction Toolkit developed by NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group and Healthwatch Cumbria.

The straightforward easy-read guide and plan template is available to anyone involved in co-production activity in any setting. The CCG is asking for feedback on the materials from parents/carers.

+ PROVIDE FEEDBACK TO: harry.harrison@northcumbriaccg.nhs.uk

Get in touch