DIAS Autumn newsletter 2018 - DIAS, Devon and national SEND news

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page. Sign up to Education and Families news  

Devon information Advice and Support

Issue number 2

Happy Christmas

Welcome to the DIAS Autum term newsletter

It’s been a busy term and there’s lots of news and new resources to tell you about. Our two new members of staff, Jane and Kate have settled in well and are now supporting parents, carers and young people in the North Devon area. Our DIAS team now has eight part-time officers working in teams of two across four areas, to help us ensure parents get a fair and consistent service.

We also have a growing team of volunteers supporting us, helping parents get to grips with paperwork and get the best out of meetings. We’re always looking for new volunteers and have regular training sessions for interested people. The next one is in Exeter in the new year. If you’re interested in joining the team of volunteers, you can find out more about the role on our web pages.

Everyone at DIAS would like to wish you a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year. The office is closed over the Christmas and new year period from Christmas Day until 2 January 2019.



Information to help parents share their views

This term we launched new information that helps parents and carers share their views with professionals and get those views into the heart of any discussions.

Aimed at any parent, carer or guardian with a child with SEND, this new DIAS web page is full of practical ideas to guide you through the process of sharing your views. There are suggestions for what to say and how much, tools you can use and advice about sharing your views in meetings too. Sitting alongside this is information about helping your child or young person share their views too. Whether you're talking to school about your child or going through an EHC needs assessment, this information will be invaluable. You can find everything on our website.


New form for parents to use in meetings

One of our DIAS Officers, Sarah, created a simple form for parents to use to get the most out of any meeting. We took her great idea and developed it further, so every parent can download and use it.

On the form there’s space for you to write your child’s main difficulties, the action agreed at the meeting, your questions and anything else raised in the meeting. There are even some helpful tips for getting the most out of it. You can download it from the website in the resources section. Once you’ve downloaded it you can print it and fill it out, or type into it. We’d love to know what you think and whether it helped!

group talks

Talking to local groups

DIAS Officers have been getting out and about this term, going to Devon community groups to talk about the work we do and the kind of services we give. We regularly talk to groups that support parents who have a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or autism as well as talking to parent carer support groups across the county. If you’d like someone to come and talk to your group, contact us at devonias@devon.gov.uk

better outcomes

Better outcomes training

This term we’ve put on three Better Outcomes from meetings training sessions for parents – two in Exeter and one in Barnstaple. These parent and carer sessions help people get the most from meetings. Parents learn about getting ready for meetings, managing disagreement and ending a meeting with agreement and a clear plan.

Our trainer, Jane Ring, is always on the lookout for schools and groups that would like to host a session. If you think your school, college or academy trust would like to get involved, contact Jane at devonias@devon.gov.uk. The training can also be delivered for teachers and other staff! It’s free of charge to host and attend.


Updated factsheets

We have updated the following:

  • How to Guide to checking a draft EHC plan
  • Preparing for adulthood
  • How to Guide to elective home education
  • This is Me – a form for young people to use to record their views for an EHC needs assessment

All are available on our website.

Coming Soon!

Special education

New information about EHC needs assessment and EHC plans and reviews

We’ve taken our existing leaflet about EHC assessment and plans and created something new, with lots more practical information and advice. Now split into two new leaflets, the information will be supported by a How to Guide to asking for an EHC needs assessment, a flow chart that explains the process and timescales and a factsheet about EHC plan review meetings. The information will also be available on our web pages, along with supporting resources. All the resources will become available over the next few months, so watch this space!

Graphic design

A new look for our information

The design of our leaflets dates from 2014 when the changes in SEND law meant changes in our service and the advice we offered to parents. A lot has changed since then, the service has developed and what parents want is different too. To reflect that, we’re working with graphic designers to create a new look, which we hope will make our information more useable and readable. We are always looking for parents and carers to give us their views on what we produce, so if you would like to be involved in choosing the new look and feel for our information, please get in touch with Sarah Smith at devonias@devon.gov.uk.

Devon News

listen hear and understand

Listen hear and understand – young people say why their voice needs to be heard!

Devon’s children and young people’s participation group, Champions for Change, have launched a new film called Listen Hear and Understand. Aimed at children and young people, as well as professionals and services, the film helps children and young people with special needs understand their rights to have a voice and to be heard. Made by young people from across Devon, the film urges everyone to make sure the voices of children and young people make it into strategic plans and services, as well as their own school and EHC plans. The film is available on YouTube and Vimeo (the password is champions).

Devon councillors

Devon councillors urge Education Secretary to improve school funding

The Education Secretary Damian Hinds has been visiting Devon recently, and while here he was urged to improve funding for Devon’s schools. He was also lobbied to give more money for the county’s most vulnerable youngsters.

Mr Hinds was invited to Devon by the deputy leader of the county council and Cabinet member for schools, James McInnes. Mr McInnes has recently taken over as chairman of the national lobbying group for schools, called f40, which is made up of the worst funded education authorities in the country. The latest figures show every child in a Devon school gets £304 less in funding than the national average, which means the county is losing out on millions of pounds every year. Find out more about the campaign on their website

mum and son

New and updated information and forms from the Special Education 0-25 team

The Special Education 0-25 Team at Devon County Council has reviewed its documents and processes, and parent carer feedback was at the heart of discussions. Parent carers attended the review days and gave their views on how the EHCP format could be changed and how the process could be made less stressful for families. In response to feedback, several documents have been updated or newly created by the 0-25 team including:

  • EHC needs assessment request forms and letters, changed to make them easier to understand
  • annual review guidance for parents
  • information about the graduated response, what it is and what schools should be providing
  • a key facts document about how SEND support is funded
  • new EHC plan format - the new format will be rolled out gradually as the 0-25 Team issues new EHCPs and reviews existing ones.

You can find the documents on the Devon County website.

speech and langauge

Speech and language consultation

Parents, carers, commissioners and service providers put their heads together to help shape the future of speech, language and communication services in Devon. More than 80 people went to a ‘Creative Conversation’ workshop held outside Exeter in October. You can see what was discussed on YouTube.

tiverton special school

New special school coming to Tiverton

Following a meeting of the Regional Schools Commissioner head teacher Board in September, the Alternative Complementary Education (ACE) Schools Multi-Academy Trust has been given approval to sponsor a proposed new secondary special free school in Tiverton called Charlton Lodge.

Charlton Lodge will be for children aged 11 to 16 with social, emotional and mental health needs and for Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) pupils who fall within the average to high ability range. You can find out more about the plans on the Devon County website.

National news

exclusions review

Exclusions review

The Education Select Committee published a review about the increasing number of exclusions from mainstream schools and of the challenges in alternative provision settings, which is where many excluded children are then taught.

The report recommends a Bill of Rights for pupils and parents, which includes that schools should be inclusive and not rush to exclude pupils, and that parents and pupils should be given accurate information about the range and type alternative provision that is available locally. You can find out more on the parliament website.


Information Advice and Support Services are evolving

Every local authority in England has an Information, Advice and Support Service (IASS). These services give support around special educational needs and disability for children, young people and parents in their local area.

In June 2018, the services changed to become part of an Information, Advice and Support Programme – a new national government initiative, led by a team at the Council for Disabled Children on behalf of the Department for Education. The programme is a partnership that brings together the Information, Advice and Support Network, a helpline’ provided by a national organisation for families of disabled children called Contact, the Independent Support programme and IPSEA who provide staff and volunteer training. DIAS are part of the programme and we’ll be developing and improving what we offer over the coming months and years. You can find out more on our website.


National SEND information and support helpline

Contact is a national charity that gives information and support to families of disabled children. Their website has lots of general information about a wide range of issues that affect families and children, including education. They have education specialist helpline advisers available from Monday-Friday, 9.30-5.00 pm to answer queries.

The freephone helpline is 0808 808 3555 or you can post a query on their Facebook page.

decision making

Decision-making and mental capacity guidance

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provides national guidance to improve health and social care. They recently published a new guideline about decision-making and mental capacity, which covers decision-making in people 16 years and over who may lack capacity now or in the future. It aims to help health and social care practitioners support people to make their own decisions where they have the capacity to do so. There is guidance for the public too.

NICE also have lots of other national guidance about conditions that affect children and young people, including autism, self-harm, ADHD, social and emotional wellbeing and anxiety disorders. Find out more on their website.

mental health

Mental health and behaviour: Guidance for schools

This new guidance is for school staff and applies to all schools. It’s about how schools can support pupils whose mental health problems show themselves in behaviour. It gives advice on:

  • how to create a whole school culture, including promoting positive mental health
  • understanding the link between mental health and behaviour
  • how to identify children with possible mental health problems
  • where and how to put in place support, including working with external agencies where required
  • other sources of further support and guidance.

Twitter footerFacebook footerblank space