November 2020


November 2020 SEND Improvement Board Update includes the below and more:

  • New Staff in the SEN Team • SEND Transformation Vision and Strategy update
  • Speech, language and communication needs survey for those people where Covid – 19 has impacted access to speech and language therapy.
  • Having Your Say consultation portal.
  • Support and Advice for people and businesses including basis household essentials, foodbanks, free school meals during the holidays and more.
  • SEND Place Planning and the additional special school places available.

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New Staff in the SEN Team

Following the Council investment, we have been able to advertise for 13 new staff for the SEN Team. There have been two recruitment processes which have been supported by the Parent Carer Forum. Three additional people have joined the assessment team, working part time to give two extra full time posts in that team and there are 8 people who have been appointed to work as case officers in the review teams. Some have started in November, the others are starting over the next few months.

We are also reorganising the review case officers into four rather than three teams so that there are four areas aligning with health and care area teams.

We have one more round of recruitment to go – some of the successful people were already in the team and this means we also now have to recruit to their vacant posts as well.

This is very positive news but it will take some time to get the new staff ready and trained to working at their capacity. Those that have started already are settling in and going through induction and training at the moment. Once we have completed recruitment we will provide the area team lists so everyone is aware of who their SEN contacts are.

SEND Transformation Vision and Strategy

Devon County Council, Children and Family Health Devon, NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and colleagues from our partner organisations are working together to transform the experience of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families, through the SEND Transformation Project.

Our vision is for all children and young people with special educational needs or a disability to dream, believe and achieve, and fulfil their potential.

Please click here to read more about the survey, feedback and the next steps.

Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN)

Let's Talk More

Let’s Talk More (LTM) has been included by Public Health England as one of 5 good practice case studies.

Following a call in Spring 2018 for best practice examples of how an integrated system can work in practice the LTM case study was submitted to PHE. LTM was subject to independent peer review through PHEs Speech, Language and Communication Expert Advisory group prior to publication so it is great to see it featured and is testament to the combined effort by Children’s Centres; Public Health Nursing team; Early Years Providers and Speech & Language Therapy across Devon.

Speech Language and Communication Needs Webinar.

On 23rd October the Improving Access to Communication Services and Support Programme (IACSS) in partnership with Devon Children and Families Partnership (DCFP) hosted a free webinar on Social, Emotional, Mental Health and Speech, Language and Communication Needs. 

Interest in the webinar was unprecedented and DCFP were inundated with applications. 216 professionals that work across a wide range of services and organisations in Devon attended and a large number of professionals were placed on a waiting list. 

For more information on next steps following the webinar and for additional links on Social Emotional Mental Health (SEMH) please visit here.

Devon speaks up for SLCN:

The RCSLT is concerned how Covid - 19 has impacted on peoples access to speech and language therapy and they would like to hear experiences from parents/carers and professions, to understand the situation and work collectively to make the improvements that are required. Please follow this link to share your experience.

Putting spoken language in the spotlight - 25th November 2020.

No Pens Day Wednesday is an annual day of spoken language activities that takes place in schools, colleges and early years settings across the country.

Spoken language skills (sometimes called oracy) are fundamental for learning to read and write, managing emotions, developing friendships and entering employment. However, spoken language is underrepresented in the curriculum in comparison to reading and writing. 

By putting down your pens and shouting out about spoken language, you can:

  • Develop pupils’ spoken language skills.
  • Develop staff’s understanding of spoken language and embed into your curriculum.
  • Try out new teaching approaches and engage pupils in exciting pens-free activities.
  • Identify pupils who need additional support to develop their speech, language and communication skills.

For information on how to get involved and to access FREE resources please visit the ICAN website.


SEND Place Planning

In 2017-18, Devon County Council published a review of SEN Place Planning which set out a number of recommendations to ensure the delivery of SEND (special education needs and disabilities) Special School places matched the increased need across the County. Work has continued on the plan to deliver more places culminating in a successful bid for investment in the Devon County Council Capital Programme.

To date, new schools have been opened in in Tiverton and Newton, the latter opening in September 2020, as well as expansions to schools in Exeter and North Devon. The County Council has recently approved the capital and revenue for a new special school In Okehampton and permission to start the process to select a school provider, in addition to further expansion of provision in Barnstaple and Dartington. Further proposals are being worked up in preparation for investment in the new financial year.

In total, an estimated 600 new special places will be provided across the County between 2018 and 2023.

"Having Your Say" Consultation Portal

We would just like to make you aware of a consultation that is currently taking place through the Devon County Council ‘Having your say’ consultation portal. This consultation relates to the Education and Inclusion services currently delivered by Babcock LDP to schools. Although these services are mainly directly delivered into the schools and are not delivered to individuals (except for MSI services) you may be aware of some of them. The survey documents can be found here, the consultation is due to close on the 1st December. The schools themselves have also been actively engaged in the process which has to take place as the current contract for the services is due to expire in 2022.

Champions for Change

The latest meeting of Champions for Change was held on 23rd October, and it was a very positive experience. It was the first virtual meeting with attendance almost tripled since the last meeting, with 5 schools being represented.

We discussed the reasons why Champions for Change exists and the group’s importance in representing the voice of pupils with SEND across Devon, making sure that the views and aspirations of children and young people are listened to, and that they help Devon in developing SEND provision in the future.

The next target for the group is to expand, creating an advert, a new website and information flyers to help spread the word and gain new members. If you or anyone you know is interested in joining a group for young people with SEND by young people with SEND, please get in touch!” Click here to find out more about Champions for Change.


Covid - 19 Support and Advice for People and Businesses

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to put a huge financial strain on some families. Employment situations are changing rapidly and for some their income now no longer covers what they need or they have lost their jobs completely.

Help is available. If you know someone who is worrying about money and how to pay for basic household essentials, please encourage them to apply for extra assistance through funding that we have made available via District Council's hardship funds.

You can find out more about what support is available in Devon, including how to apply for financial help, where to find foodbanks and community larders, free meals during the school holidays and what to do if you’re on a low income and need to self-isolate.

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) - Impact of Covid - 19

RCPCH has launched the results of their 4 month project looking at the impact of Covid - 19 on children and young people across the UK.

As part of their project, young people have volunteered over 100 hours to read published studies highlighting the impact of the pandemic, identifying common themes and developing Book Club summaries of their key findings.  In addition, they have spoken with paediatricians, policy leads and national programme managers to understand the Winter Planning and Covid - 19 Recovery Plan process, identifying three areas for action by NHS trusts and boards that will keep children and young people at the centre of plans, services and communities over the coming months. 

Follow this link for more information about their project and download their recovery plan priorities which explores the problem, ideas for solutions and the impact this could have on children and young people.