DiAS Summer term newsletter 2021

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Issue number 10 

Summer garden

Saying it’s been a school year like no other would be an understatement. We know that everyone’s experience of this last year has been unique - some families and children have thrived whereas others have found it incredibly challenging. Whatever your circumstances, your children’s lives in nursery, school or college have all been affected and the road back to a new normal may be a long one for some.  

Many of the families we're supporting have children and young people struggling with anxiety. Some are finding it hard to get back into school or college, and some even to leave the house. There are some very good resources available to help both you and your child. Not fine in school is an organisation set up by parent carers in response to the growing number of children and young people who struggle with school attendance. They have a peer to peer support service and information for parents and schools.  Young minds have information about helping your child with anxiety, and locally in Devon, Babcock have some web information about anxiety-based school avoidance.   

Please remember that we are here to help too. DiAS Officers work over the holidays as well as term time, though they will be taking time off too. Our contact form and email are always available. The enquiry line is open during usual hours 10am-3pm Monday to Friday.

DiAS news

annual review chalkboard

EHC reviews myth-busting sessions

Wednesday July 21st 10.30-12.30
Thursday 23 September 10.30-12.30

This is a free 2-hour on-line session for parent carers in preparation for the ECHP Review process in Devon. The session is aimed at parent carers of a child with an active EHCP. As time goes on, things will change for your child, so their EHC plan is likely to need to change over time too. EHC plans need to be reviewed regularly – usually once every 12 months. You can book a place on Eventbrite.


Three new factsheets and guides about parts of the Education Health and Care plan process

Over the last few months, we have added more information to our collection of resources about EHC plans. You can now follow the whole EHC plan journey from thinking about whether your child might need an EHC needs assessment through to reviewing plans and disagreeing with decisions.  Our three new topic areas are:

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Ambassador Volunteer update

The Ambassador volunteer (AV) project has a further eight new parent carer Ambassador Volunteers helping to widen connection for families across Devon, taking the total to 28 linked into the network. We also welcomed 11 new Action for Children Link Volunteers who support families in their SEND Step by Step groups.

All the volunteers are working together to connect parent carers to their local community peer support, to DiAS and Parent Carer Forum Devon (PCFD), helping to shape local and county wide SEND services. Volunteers are also sharing parent insights by becoming members of several strategic work groups with professionals. You can find out whether there is an AV or group in your area by looking on the DiAS website.


New DiAS volunteers

Our wonderful team of DiAS volunteers have continued to take a variety of active roles over the past few months. This has included online meeting support, support at mediation and tribunals, helping parents with forms and paperwork and invaluable IT and office support. Over the past few weeks we have seen a switch to more face to face meetings, and we are trying to be as flexible as we can in our offer of support, where capacity allows.

We have recently had the privilege of training three new volunteers, who will shortly be joining the team. They have a wealth of experience that we hope will be a real asset.

If you, or anyone you know, is interested in finding out more about the volunteer role, or our next training sessions, please get in touch. We’ll be happy to have an informal chat about what is involved.

Lets talk

Direct support for children and young people

Our Child and Young People Workers, Anna and Maria, have been busy. As the lockdown restrictions eased, they started meeting young people face to face. Young people have been able to meet in a place they felt comfortable in - outdoors at a café, at the park, even at the beach. We’ve continued to support over the phone, via email and with video calls too, which allows us to offer support to more young people across the county. This is what young people said after meeting up:

“Thank you for helping me get this far with the school and hope that thing will be done now I’m back after the break.”

“This has been really helpful, and it’s been nice to get clarity and have another person in my corner. You have explained things really well.”

DiAS website home page

More new and updated information

We’ve got lots more new and updated information for parents and carers – available on our website and as downloadable documents for you to keep, share and print.

We have also added pages to our website about study skills and staying safe online for children and young people.

Coming soon!


Refreshed and revamped DiAS website

We are part way through a review and update of our website. We have chosen a new look for the main part of the site and a young people’s section, worked out what should go where and decided how information will be grouped together to help users find it easily. The main site is being built and then we will have the painstaking task of working through it page by page, checking it all works and makes sense. There's now a lot of in-depth information about SEND on the website and it’s the best place to start if you have questions about processes or support. The new site will be available in the autumn.

Devon news

Local offer website

New Local Offer website

Devon County Council have launched a new Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) website, designed for children and young people with SEND and their families. It aims to help them find the right information about education, health and care support in the local area. This new SEND Local Offer website will play a role in helping families to understand what help and support is available in their area and will also help to make sure SEND support is more responsive to local needs. 

The site is initially being launched as a ‘Beta’ site. This means that they will continue to work on it behind the scenes to make sure it has all the information you need, and you can easily find what you’re looking for. 

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Get involved in changing SEND services

Are you a young person in Devon, aged 11-25, who is neurodiverse, or who has a special educational need or disability? Would you like to be part of a network making changes to SEND services and other issues that affect your life? If the answer is yes, email amy.bickford@devon.gov.uk for more details!

Have your say

Recent SEND strategy Roadshows – what you said

Devon County Council staff recently held roadshows to share their new SEND strategy and suggested SEND Delivery proposals with practitioners, schools and parents and carers. They have brought together all the feedback from breakout sessions and a survey, and it has been used to inform the preferred SEND Delivery model. The insights will also be used as part of the next stage of development - developing the organisational structures, systems, processes and measures needed to bring the new SEND Delivery model to life. You can find out more on the Education and Families part of the DCC website.

child and teaching assistant

More special school places

From September there will be an increase in the number of special school places in Devon. Marland school will have 12 extra places for primary school age children with social emotional and mental health difficulties from this September. Lampard school will have 60 extra places for children with speech, language and communication needs in primary and secondary from Sept ‘22.

A brand-new school is being built in Okehampton which will have 100 places for primary and secondary aged children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties. It opens its’ doors in September 2022.

National news

secondary school class

Share your views about behaviour management in schools

The Department for Education is calling for evidence to help inform their review of the behaviour and discipline, and suspensions and permanent exclusions guidance. They're specifically asking about behaviour management strategies in schools, mobile phone use and in-school behavioural units

They are asking for views from a whole range of people and organisations involved, including parent carers and are looking specifically at special educational needs as part of the consultation. If you have views you'd like to share about your experiences with your child, this is your opportunity. The consultation closes on 10 August 2021.

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Ofsted report about supporting SEND

Some pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) in mainstream schools are not getting enough help to support their learning and development, even when external services are involved, according to a research report by Ofsted. Many of the schools and families participating in the research had experienced long wait times and high levels of bureaucracy in the education, health and care (EHC) plan process. Read more on the Ofsted website.

Home learning boy asking for help

Lessons Learnt from Lockdown: The highs and lows of the pandemic's impact on disabled children and young people

Over 600 children and young people, 128 parents and 110 professionals contributed their views and experiences to this report from the Council for Disabled Children (CDC). It’s the largest consultation to date with children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their lives. There are views that come directly from children and young people about the support they need moving forward. You can find out what people had to say on the CDC website – including a summary for children and young people.

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