ūüĎČLatest News... Action plan approved|surveys|progress updates... 12 November

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/Care Quality Commission following their 2019 inspection of SEND services in Cumbria. 


Dan Barton

"Our last newsletter was issued on 20 September and already that feels like a lifetime ago. Back then we were working on improving our action plan, known as the Written Statement of Action, after Ofsted had told us it needed further work. Well I'm pleased to be able to report that our revised WSoA was accepted at the end of October and it's now full steam ahead with delivering the plan. More on this below.

"I'm also excited about the four big surveys that are getting underway this week to find out more about the experiences of parents/carers and children/young people. It's so important that we hear from as many people as possible so we can make sure we really do understand what your issues are and prioritise the right things. Please try and find the time to respond (and I know that can be hard).

"One of the real challenges that's emerging as we try to develop our working with parents and carers is the speed with which people want things to change (which is justified) and the speed at which big bureaucracies like the council and NHS can change. So I can fully understand if parents/carers might be frustrated because things don’t feel different 'on the ground' just yet. But the programme is really picking up momentum now and I'm confident that you will start to see improvements in how we do things coming through soon. Please bear with us, we know there's a lot to do, but unfortunately we can't fix it all at the same time."

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

eNewsletter Contents

sign up button

Sign up to receive future editions of this e-newsletter.

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

Written Statement of Action approved


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.

Our WSoA has now been approved.


Our task is now to carry out all the actions in the plan on time over the next 18 months and work is well underway.

The Department for Education will be conducting regular monitoring to check we are making the right progress.

Have your say on SEND services!

questionnaire survey

All families with SEND children invited to complete questionnaire

This week sees the launch of four big surveys to find our more about people's experiences:

  • A survey of parents/carers of children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
  • A survey of children and young people with an EHCP.
  • A survey of parents/carers of children who receive SEN Support in school
  • A survey of children/young people receiving SEN Support.

Because we know the addresses of families with an EHCP we've sent all of them questionnaires in the post. Over 3000 families will receive the survey this week - if you are one of them please respond!

We don't have addresses for families with a child receiving SEN Support (individual schools hold this information) so this is an online survey and we're asking schools and other SEND networks to help us let parents/carers and children/young people know about taking part.

If you have a child/young person receiving SEN Support please respond.

We're hoping to get all the questionnaires returned and analysed with results available early in the New Year. We'll share the results in this eNewsletter.

Working Group progress updates

The work in the Written Statement of Action is being lead by six Working Groups. All include parent/carer representatives. Below is a progress report from each group. You can find the full programme of work for each group in the Written Statement of Action, there are also Action Logs for each group.

Working Group 1: Understand Local Need

The group have developed the first version of the SEND Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) which has gathered all of the current data and evidence in relation to children with SEND. This has been presented to a number of groups (including some parents and carers) in order to sense check the analysis and has been very well-received. Once it is finalised as version 1, this will be made public on the Local Offer Website. We're aiming to do that before Christmas.

The JSNA will be used to give a better shared understanding across the partnership of needs, strengths and weaknesses and will be used to inform commissioning and improve services. We will use this first version to help us develop further themes for exploration and to deepen our understanding of SEND in Cumbria. In addition, Working Group 1 has been working on a performance report, the first draft of this was presented to the SEND Improvement Board on 5 November, and more work is now needed to ensure that it represents SEND performance across all agencies.

Working Group 2: Commissioning 

The group are now working on the a much more detailed action plan that will deliver the requirements of the Written Statement of Action.  This will provide a level of detail to ensure the specific requirements of the inspection are delivered on time. This will be supported by the first version of the SEND Joint Strategic Needs Assessment which has now been received.

In considering how we engage and co-produce our work with parents and carers we have concluded that Commissioning is likely to be an aspect of many other of the consultation themes, rather than as a theme in its own right, so we will be working with colleagues in the other working groups to ensure that any commissioning implications of their work and understood and included in the wider engagement and co-production work.

Working Group 3: Engagement and Co-production

We now have parent/carer representatives on all six of the Working Groups and attending the SEND Improvement Board. They are helping to shape the work of the groups and the overall programme. We have established the SEND Improvement Programme Reference Group, made up of the parent/carer representatives on the working groups and others, and they are making an important contribution on specific topics by sharing their experiences.

We have large scale questionnaire surveys underway (see above) to find out more about the experiences of as many people as possible in the county, and are finalising plans for a series of face to face events across the county to speak to parents/carers about their experiences of different services. We’re also developing the All of Us Forums to engage directly with more children and young people. Lots done, lots still to do.

Working Group 4: Preparation for adulthood (transition)

Work is nearing completion on a protocol for joint working between children's and adult social care, and between the SEND team and adult social care. Training for officers will follow as well as audits to ensure the new protocol is applied and fit for purpose. This will ensure that Care Act assessments happen in a timely manner and support transition.

Plans are taking shape for the 2020 Transition Fairs following a review of the feedback from this year's event. We'll be getting feedback from the parent/carer Reference Group before we start publicising the 2020 dates. Watch this space

Work is also ongoing to review the current transition protocol and hear views from young people, their parents, carers and providers to inform a future Transitions Roadmap to make sure everyone understands the different stages of the process. 

We are working with transition workers, other working groups and parents to identify poor quality Education, Health and Care Plans of current year 11 pupils to highlighted problems ahead of annual review.

We are working with working group 6 to establish a SENCO network to help us engage more closely with children in schools, supporting our action to identify work experience pathways for young adults and have met with the local ‚ÄúAll of Us‚ÄĚ group for their views to help develop pathways. We are working with working group 3, apprenticeship colleagues and community development teams to have wider conversations with people about the work experience and apprenticeship offer for those with SEND in Cumbria.

Working Group 5: Emotional Health and Wellbeing

We are making progress with revising the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) audit tool to enable us to assess how well EHCPs address emotional and psychological needs. Changes to data collection within Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) will enable us to start monitoring equity of access to CAMHS service by the end of the year. We have completed the service specification and contracts for the new Child and Family Support Service; these contracts have been awarded and new services will be in place from January. Work is underway to establish the e-school nurse service as part of the new Healthy Child Programme contract that is due to start from January. The way in which we will audit CAMHS and learning disability services against National Institute of Clinical Excellence guidelines has been agreed and this work is on schedule. Many other actions are not due to begin until further information is available in the New ear so overall we are on track with implementing our action plan.

Working Group 6: SEN Support

Schools are asked every year to assess themselves on how they manage SEND. These assessments have now been returned to the Local Authority and give good information about where support needs to be targeted either via school to school support or from the Local Authority Learning Improvement Service. This is informing the work of the group as we move forward.

Reminders have been sent to schools about guidance for the use of part-time timetables. The Local Authority is now going to collect data about the use of part time timetables to make sure that they are being used appropriately and legally.

We have established a new network for Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) in schools to improve information sharing and consistency of practice. There will be meetings each term in each area of the county and uptake has been great for the November meetings with capacity having to be increased to accommodate all who want to attend. This is really positive and we'll be working to build on this.

What's it like being part of the improvement programme?

We asked parent/carers on the Working Groups to tell us what it's been like for them so far

Hayley Stewart

Hayley Stewart  - Parent/Carer representative on Working Group 2 - Commissioning

"I’ve had a fairly positive experience of joining WG 2 so far. The chair and the other professionals on the group are welcoming, accommodating and seem genuinely interested in our input, and pleased to have parental expertise and experiences to draw on. My only criticisms so far are that things seem to be moving slowly (although I do acknowledge that work is taking place behind the scenes to create a plan for how to achieve what’s in the WSOA) and that far too few professionals actually attend the WG meetings. Overall though I feel it’s a good start and that there is genuine intent and drive to improve things for our children."

rosie brown

Rosie Brown - Parent/Carer representative on Working Group 3 - Engagement and Co-production

"My experience so far as a parent carer representative has been a busy one! As a parent of very young children, I am at the beginning of learning the complexities of health and education for children and young people with SEND. For me, it is of value from both sides, and I have been lucky enough to find helpful and kind support from my co representatives and from the professionals in the group. Any long term success relies on us! As well as the professional teams within statutory services"

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

SEND News>>SEND News>>SEND News

All of us forum

Would your child/young person like to attend an All of Us forum?

The All of Us forums are for any young people who have SEND whether they have an EHCP or not. Most young people who have attended are 11-21 but there are no strict rules about age.

The forums give young people a chance to tell us what is happening in their lives and whether services are meeting their needs, as well as having some fun. We want to hear what is going well as well as what they would like to change. The work they are doing also fits into the SEND Improvement Programme as any work undertaken by the groups is reported at the improvement plan working group ‚ÄėCo-production and Engagement‚Äô. Young people‚Äôs views will be seriously considered in any service development.



(The most recent West meeting took place on 5 November.)

If you and the young people you work with would like to get involved please contact your local Children's Rights Officer. If you have any children and young people that need additional support to attend please let us know.

  • Carlisle and Eden ‚Äď Liz Wright ‚Äď 07825340475¬†
  • Allerdale and Copeland ‚Äď Rebecca Barnes ‚Äď 07770938021
  • Barrow and Copeland ‚Äď Joanne Gawne ‚Äď 0796749996

Get in touch