SEND Improvement Programme: August 2021

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In this edition:

Linda's independent leadership provides challenge and support

Linda Clegg OBE

Linda Clegg OBE is the independent Chair of Cumbria's SEND Improvement Board. Here she tells us a little about herself, her connection to SEND Improvement in Cumbria, and what drives her to keep making a difference.

"I have worked in children's services for many years. I qualified as a social worker in 1988, and am still registered to practice today.  I held the role of Director of Children's Services at Blackburn with Darwen in Lancashire for 8 years until 2018, and have been working independently in an advisory capacity since that time, across the country but mainly in the North West. Much of my day to day now involves working with local authorities and others to make improvements to services for children. Here in Cumbria, as well as being your independent chair of the SEND Improvement Board, I am the Children's Advisor for the Local Government Association. 

"Having an independent chair of the Board is extremely important. I'm not aligned to any individual organisation and so can provide strategic direction, support and challenge to the SEND Improvement Programme without fear or favour, and bring fresh eyes and a new perspective.

"I was extremely proud to be awarded an OBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours for services to social work. Making a positive difference to children and families is what has driven me throughout my career, and it's what drives me now in my SEND improvement work, as I feel passionately that improving outcomes for children and families is the most important thing we can do.

"The road to SEND improvement in Cumbria isn't easy. The pandemic had an impact initially, as staff were pulled into front line Covid response roles, but I am proud of how quickly and effectively Cumbria reorganised to ensure the focus on SEND improvement remained. 

"Now there is the prospect of local government reorganisation on the horizon, with the recent announcement that Cumbria will have two unified councils replacing the current structure. The SEND Partnership is committed to ensuring that the SEND Improvement Programme remains a priority throughout the reorganisation process and beyond. A lot of work has gone in to making sure the foundations for improvement are solid, but we now need to translate all that good work into ensuring families feel the benefits of those improvements in their everyday lives - in schools, in health services, and in social care.

"Much has been done, but we know there is more still to do, and as Chair of the Improvement Board I will work with your local authority and health partners across the county to ensure those positive changes happen."

Linda Clegg OBE  

Independent Chair - Cumbria's SEND Improvement Board

Get involved and Upcoming events

Hold the date - Preparing for adulthood event 18th to 22nd October

SEND child

Following the success of last year's Preparing for Adulthood fair there will be another online event from 18th to 22nd October

The week long event will be held using a dedicated website. Parents, carers and young people will be able to find information, advice and resources on all aspects of preparing for adulthood, from further education options, to housing/living options, to advice on applying for deputyship and guardianship and when those options would apply.

Feedback from last year's event was overwhelmingly positive, with more than 80% of attendees telling us the event was extremely or very useful. Attendees also told us that more written information to take away and use of videos which could be watched at a time convenient to them would be useful, so look out for more leaflets and videos at this year's event.

Further information on how to access the website and the timetable of events will be shared closer to the date, so keep an eye out for this in future newsletters.


SEND Alliance Cumbria ask families to help set their priorities

SENDAC transparent logo

SENDAC, the new parent carer forum for Cumbria, are asking families of children and young people with additional needs to help them set their priorities for working with the SEND Partnership for the coming year.

After speaking with families from around the county they have created a list of issues and concerns, and are asking all parents, carers and children and young people to help rank them in order of priority.

Families can rank the issues of concern using an online survey, which will be open until the end of September.

Once families have had their say, the issues most important to them will be the first aspects of the SEND system SENDAC will focus on, working with the NHS and local authority in Cumbria to encourage the positive changes that families want to see.

SENDAC will share the results of the poll on their Facebook page, and will keep families up to date with progress via a new newsletter which they hope to launch in the Autumn term.



Last chance to respond to 'Supporting mental health and wellbeing' survey

The working group focusing on mental health and wellbeing of children and young people with SEND are seeking to better understand how services are currently used and what additional support families would like to see. 

A survey has been created which parents and carers are being asked to complete before it closes on Friday 3rd September.

The questionnaire only takes 10 minutes to complete and the responses gathered will help the team review current services and identify gaps in provision.



SEND Local Offer group seeks new members

Local offer signpost

The SEND Local Offer website group co-produce improvements to the content and accessibility of the site and are looking for more parent carers and SEND practitioners to get involved.

Every local authority has a statutory duty to provide a website showing their Local Offer of SEND services, support and information. Here in Cumbria we take a Continuous Improvement approach to our SEND Local Offer website, as we know there will always be new services and information to add, and improvements we can make to it's content, accessibility and functionality.

In order to do this we have set up a Continuous Improvement group of local authority officers, parent carers and SEND practitioners who regularly look at the site to see what improvements can be made and ensure the information available accurately reflects what families and SEND practitioners need. 

The group is currently reviewing the Home Education and Education other than at school (EOTAS) information, alongside experts by experience, to ensure it provides accurate, useful and complete information, so look out for changes to these sections of the site coming soon.

The group meet online every 6 to 8 weeks and usually review a section at a time, determined by the priorities of the parents and carers in the group.

Parents, carers and SEND practitioners can contact Hayley Stewart to find out how to get involved in this important and worthwhile work.



Calling all budding young artists

Short breaks competition

Cumbria County Council are looking for a budding artist to give the new Short Breaks service a name and design a logo.

To enter you must be in school years 1 to 13 (you don't have to currently be attending school to enter, you just need to fall within that age range) and you must have an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP).

So get out your computer, or pencils and paints, to create your masterpiece. You can hand your design in at your local library, or send us a digital copy.

Entries must be received before 5pm on Friday 24th September 2021. A panel of young people will decide on a shortlist of entries and there will be a prize for the winner.



A day of Positivity coming to Walney

A day of practical workshops full of strategies proven to make a positive difference to children living with challenging behaviour, sensory or sleep issues is to be held at Walney community centre on Tuesday 21st September.

The day will consist of workshops given by trained professionals who are also parent carers of children living with additional needs. 

Popular and well respected local speakers such as Amanda Bland - A Stitch Different, Hanna Munro - Occupational Therapist, and Debbie Austin - Positive Behaviour Support trainer will be on hand to provide advice and support throughout the day.

Places are free but must be registered in advance.


PS Day

SEND news

Introducing the new Senior Manager for SEND and Inclusion

Sally Senejko

Sally Senejko has been appointed the new Senior Manager for SEND and Inclusion at Cumbria County Council. Sally comes to the role having held the interim Senior Manager role for SEND for the past year. Sally told us

“I am excited to be appointed to this new role and look forward to building on all the good work already underway. As always, I remain committed to improving outcomes for children and young people with SEND and their families, and look forward to working in partnership with parents, including SEND Alliance Cumbria, to ensure our SEND and Inclusion services are the best they can be.”

Parents and carers of children and young people with SEND will be able to meet Sally, alongside other colleagues from across the SEND Partnership at the next SEND Q&A event - look out for dates and how to get involved in the next edition.


SEND services reinspection on hold until the Autumn

Ofsted and the CQC have confirmed that they will not be undertaking re-inspections over the Summer holiday period. This means that Cumbria's expected visit from the inspectors will now not happen until September at the earliest.

Keep an eye out for future ebulletins, as we will publish information of how parents and carers can get involved with the reinspection as soon as we have the details.


Local government reorganisation announced in Cumbria

You may have read or seen on the local news that on the 21st of July, following consultation with residents and other interested parties, the Secretary of State announced the proposal for Local Government reorganisation in Cumbria.

Subject to Parliamentary approval he is proposing two unitary councils - an East unitary council covering the existing areas of Barrow, Eden and South Lakeland and a West unitary council covering the existing areas of Allerdale, Carlisle and Copeland.

There will now be a formal process in Parliament to take this forward. It is expected that the ‘Vesting Day’, which is the day that the new authorities will come into effect, is likely to be 1st April 2023.

John Readman, Executive Director of People at Cumbria County Council said

“I understand that change on such a large scale will inevitably cause some degree of anxiety. I would like to reassure those who may be worried that until 2023, when the new councils take effect, we will retain our focus on all children’s services, including the SEND improvement work. We will also be working to ensure that the new council structures for both East and West Cumbria build on the progress that has been made and take account of any work still be to done, to ensure that children and young people with SEND and their families receive the services and support they need. You’ll appreciate it is very early days in our planning and so as things develop we will keep you up to date through these regular newsletters.”



SEND tribunal powers extended to include health and social care

The government has confirmed that the extended powers given to SEND tribunals in England over the education, health and social care elements of an Education, Health and Care plan will continue. 

The powers were first granted in March 2018 as part of a 'single route of redress' national trial, allowing SEND tribunals to hear appeals and make non-binding recommendations regarding health and social care elements of EHCPs. Previously tribunals could only consider education elements of an EHCP.

This has been greeted as good news by parent and carer groups around the country, including Cumbria's own SENDAC parent group. Kyla Murphy and Jilly Russell, co-chairs, agreed that "this is welcome news, as it means that the 'one stop shop' for appeals regarding EHCPs will continue, although the fact that recommendations will still be non-binding is disappointing".



Regular features

All of Us Forum News

All of Us logo

The popular All of Us Forum for young people with additional needs and/or disabilities has published it's first ever newsletter! Edited by the wonderful pupils at Cartmel Primary School, the newsletter is packed full of fantastic features, jokes and even a quiz!


The All of Us group have also produced a useful document entitled 'Dear Professional...' which is full of things the young people would like people to know and be mindful of when working with them. The document has been shared across education, health and social care settings so that SEND practitioners working with children and young people can hear from them directly about how they would like to be helped and supported.



Your SENDIASS questions answered


Tracey O'Roarty, Manager of Cumbria's SEND Information and Advice support service

In June we asked if you had any questions for Tracey about the SENDIASS service. Here she answers your questions...

Does SENDIASS help with problems in health and social care too, or is it just education and schools?

We support children and young people with special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND) and their parents, by providing information and advice about matters relating to their SEND, including matters relating to health and social care.  This means we provide advice and support regarding problems linked to health and social care in instances where the issues are impacting on the child’s or young person’s education.  The child or young person would usually be on the school/college SEND Register, in the process of requesting an EHCP, undergoing an EHCP assessment or have an existing EHCP.  However, we can also support children and young people and their parents, through the  process of identifying a special educational need by an early years provider, school or college.  Where there is a problem with health and/or social care for a child or young person who does not have SEND, we can signpost parents and young people to other services providing support, and we have strong links with our Social Care and Health colleagues.

Can SENDIASS provide support and advice for SENCOs as well as families?

We can offer support and general information/advice to SENCOs around SEND law, the EHCP process, SEND Code of Practice, the Equality Act relating to disabilities and the duties for school around SEND provision.  We would not comment on an individual case without consent from a parent or young person.   We would ask a SENCO requesting support with an individual case to pass our contact details to the parent or young person as we are a self-referral service.

My local advisor has been a God send for us with problems we have had but it is difficult getting an appointment as she is always so busy. Are there plans to recruit more advisors for SENDIASS?

Over the past two years, Cumbria SENDIASS has received unprecedented requests for support from parents and carers and we strive to offer an appropriate level of support to all who request it.  Unfortunately, there are no statutory guidelines in the National IAS Service Minimum Standards or the Code of Practice regarding IASS staff levels or ratios of staff to the number of children and young people in a local area with SEND.

2.5, Chapter 2, SEND Code of Practice 2015 says:

“Information, Advice and Support Services should be impartial, confidential and accessible and should have the capacity to handle face-to-face, telephone and electronic enquiries.”

The National Information Advice and Support Service (IASS) Project provides a Measures Data Report each year including the level of funding for Information Advice and Support (IAS) Services in each local authority area.

There are currently no plans to recruit additional coordinators for Cumbria.


Does a child or young person need to have an EHCP to receive support from SENDIASS?

A child or a young person and their parents/carers can receive support from SENDIASS if they have special educational needs or a disability.  An EHCP is not a criteria to receive support from an IAS service.  We provide support for children, young people and their parents on school/college SEND registers and through the assessment process and identification of special educational needs.

How do you promote local support groups for parents/carers of children with SEND?

We are more than happy to promote local support groups and often pass on details to parents who contact our service.  We would encourage any support groups who are operating in Cumbria  to send us their details and any we will share on our service Facebook page (preferably not in a PDF format as we cannot share PDF’s on Facebook).



Call for questions

Call for questions - Lyn Durrant, Assistant Director of Nursing for children and young people at North Cumbria Integrated Care will be answering your questions about SEND and health for our next newsletter. 

Please email with your questions for Lyn. Please note that mental health and learning disability services are provided by CNTW not North Cumbria Integrated Care, so Lyn will not be able to answer questions about those services. 

For Q&As on mental health see the May edition of this newsletter. We will be including a Q&A session on Learning Disability services in a future edition.


SEND resources

Speech and language therapy service now has a dedicated page on the Local Offer

Communication pyramid

Following feedback from parents and carers, Cumbria's speech and language therapy service now have their very own dedicated webpage on Cumbria's SEND Local Offer website. 

The team work with children aged 0-19 and also offer to support any child who may have eating, drinking or swallowing difficulties.



SEND Post Box enables families to leave feedback at any time

Post box

The first pieces of feedback have been received.

In the last SEND newsletter we introduced the Post Box - a new way for families to leave feedback on all aspects of SEND services at a time convenient to them, all in one place.

Over the last month the first pieces of feedback have been received, on topics such as CAMHS, the ASD diagnostic pathway, support in school and elective home education. The feedback is now being processed and will be passed on to the relevant services for review soon.

Parents and carers can leave feedback anonymously on any SEND related service across education, health and social care. All questions are optional and you can provide as much or as little detail as you like. The Post Box is for feedback only, not for formal complaints, which should still be made to the relevant service by following their complaints procedure in the usual way.

The Post Box will be 'emptied' on a monthly basis and the feedback gathered will be passed to the relevant service for their attention. The feedback will also be used to inform and direct the work of SEND improvement going forwards.



Coproduction of services ensures families are included in decisions that affect them


Coproduction, according to Contact, the national charity for families with disabled children, is when parents and professionals work together, recognising each other's expert knowledge, to design, develop and improve services for disabled children in the local area.


Cumbria's SEND Partnership, which includes parents and carers, the NHS, local authority and third sector organisations, is fully committed to working in co-production with families. They are currently designing a joint working calendar with SENDAC, Cumbria's parent carer forum, meaning changes to existing services and design of any new ones are fully coproduced with families. This will ensure services properly meet the needs of those who use them.

Coproduction of services by including parents and carers, can often take longer, and be messier, but the benefits for all involved are multiple, and can include:

  • Increasing self worth and confidence of participants.
  • Creation of peer networks and peer to peer support.
  • Motivation for staff delivering services as they get to hear first hand about what families need.
  • Making services more accessible.
  • Making services fit for purpose for the people using them.

Parents and carers, and children and young people can learn more about how to get involved in coproduction of services from SENDAC. 



SEND Dashboard makes data accessible to all

Cumbria intelligence observatory

The Cumbria Intelligence Observatory has added a SEND Dashboard to it's website. The Dashboard brings together the available data for all things SEND related, and allows anyone to search the data using 12 different categories, including age group, ethnicity, primary need and district.



New resource explains Integrated Care Systems

The health landscape in Cumbria is complex. There are currently two clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), numerous hospital trusts and integrated care communities. There is also delivery of services from trusts which span areas outside of Cumbria such as North Cumbria, Tyne and Wear Trust (CNTW), and Lancashire and South Cumbria Foundation Trust (LSCFT). No wonder there is often confusion around who is responsible for what.

Now a new resource seeks to unpack one aspect of this by explaining what an Integrated Care System actually is, and how they can improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND and their families.

The resource has been produced by the National Children's Bureau, and the Council for Disabled Children, and is intended to support local commissioners, Designated Medical/Clinical Officers and SEND Leads to consider how legislative changes will impact on, and support their roles, in improving outcomes for children and young people with SEND. It draws on guidance already published, as well as experiences and reflections from the workforce and the Council for Disabled Children’s work on integration and SEND. You can learn more by clicking on the link below.


And finally...

virtual meeting

a message from the whole SEND Partnership to families of children and young people with SEND in Cumbria

Summer is here, and with it has come further lifting of restrictions. As restrictions ease and the vaccination programme continues, we know that many of you will have mixed feelings about things returning to a new kind of 'normal' and what that may mean for your children and young people, and your family.

We continue to acknowledge the additional anxieties and pressures faced by many of our SEND families throughout this pandemic, and to assure you that we will work together to continue to support you through this difficult time. 

We want to assure you that we remain committed to delivering the improvements which we know are vital to ensure Cumbria does it's very best for children and young people with SEND and their families.

You can find information and support on the Ways to Welfare page. We wish you and your family well and look forward to the summer with hope for better times ahead for everyone.