DiAS Autumn term newsletter 2021

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Issue number 11 

another winter

Welcome to the pre-Christmas issue of the DiAS newsletter. Here’s the usual round up of SEND news from us, and from across Devon and England.

This term we said goodbye to two members of staff, Nicky and Jane, and are saying hello to two new members of staff in the spring term - Katy and Louise. They'll be covering the East of Devon.

Autumn term is always our busiest and this year has been no exception. The pandemic has had a huge impact on children and young people, on family circumstances and on education. Many are struggling with anxiety and difficulties getting back into school life and learning. Since children and young people went back to school and college in September the phone hasn’t stopped ringing! This time last year, we had dealt with 1130 enquiries. By the same day this year, we had supported 1550 parents and  carers.

We're listening to what you're telling us and responding by creating new information and support to help you. In the new year we will have a new website with a section about SEN support in schools. We have revised our elective home education guide with input from parents - that will come out in January. And we have new online information sessions coming, to help you talk to school about your child and support them when they move to secondary school.

Our enquiry line is open Monday to Friday until Christmas Eve. We open again at 10 am on January 4th. If you want to contact us between those times, please use the contact form on our website.

DiAS news

Join our team sign

We're recruiting!

We are looking for an Information Advice and Support Officer to join the DiAS team. The role is part time (18.5 hours) and has flexible working hours. It involves directly supporting children and young people with SEND and their families. You should have experience of working with a range of agencies, and the ability to demonstrate a high level of understanding of the needs of children and young people with SEND and their parents/carers. The closing date is 7th January 2022.

Our service

Hellos and Goodbyes

We have two new DiAS Officers joining our team. Katy and Louise come to us with lots of great experience and knowledge. They will be covering East Devon, though they will sometimes support parent carers across the county. We have also said goodbye to two of our team - Nicky Nicholls and Jane Pope. Between them they supported well over a thousand families and we know they will be sadly missed by many. Jane is starting a new role in the Elective Home Education Team, where some of you will no doubt meet her again. 


New DiAS training session dates for next term!

All for parent carers, free and online.

Demystifying SEND
Information session for parents and carers of children with SEND about how to find clear information and support.
11th January, 7th February and 8th March 2022

EHC plan Review Mythbusting
Breaking through some of the misconceptions around the Education, Health and Care Plan review processes.
18th January 2022, 14th February and 15th March 2022

Listening to your Child's Views
Helping your child to express themselves and tell you how they feel about life at school.
25th January, 16th February and 21st March 2022.

young person in a meeting

Update from our Children and Young People's workers

This term the Children and Young People (CYP) team have been busy offering support to children and young people both face to face and virtually. They’ve supported young people to give their views at school and review meetings. They have helped children and young people work out what they’d like to happen when it comes to getting support in school - by offering an impartial listening ear so they can explore what they think will help them realise their hopes, dreams and ambitions. 

Ann and Maria also been developing the information we provide on the young people section of our website, and we’re excited about providing that on our new site in the months ahead.

Ambassador volunteer logo

Ambassador volunteer project keeps on growing!

Ambassador Volunteers support parent carers of children with SEND in their community by being a friendly face and sharing information about support available. This term

  • there are three new volunteers - two in North Devon and one in the South
  • new links have been formed with schools, health professionals and local services 
  • volunteers have shared over 30 items of feedback to DiAS and Parent Carer Forum Devon

Devon news

school sign

Work starts on the new special school in Okehampton

The new school in Okehampton will have  up to 100 primary and secondary pupils with social, emotional and mental health difficulties and on the autism spectrum.

The school will be run by the Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust, which also runs Okehampton, Tavistock and Holsworthy Colleges and a number of primary schools in the area.

The new building is expected to be completed in the spring of 2023 but the school will open to its first pupils in September 2022, using temporary accommodation.

schools triangle sign

Special school near Plymouth is a step closer

A partnership between Devon County Council, Plymouth City Council and The Special Partnership Trust brings a new free school a step closer

The partnership will deliver a special school providing 120 places for children aged from 5 to 16 who have autism and Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) needs.

 Devon County Council is working to secure a suitable site well located to serve both Devon’s and Plymouth’s children and young people.

cost pegs

New primary school resource bases due to open in the New year

Resource bases are small specialist units based in mainstream primary schools.Teachers and staff in resource bases directly teach children, but they also support staff in other schools to help the children they teach. Three new resource bases are opening in January:

  • Westcliff Primary (for children with social emotional and mental health needs)
  • Okehampton Primary (for children with autism)
  • Ilfracombe Junior (for children with social emotional and mental health needs)

These schools are very excited to be opening these new provisions within their mainstream setting and are being supported jointly by the LA and Babcock.

Local offer

Updated SEND Local Offer launched!

Devon SEND Local Offer launched their brand new Special Educational Needs and Disabilities website, and they'd love to know what you think! The Local Offer is there to help you find out about the support services available in Devon and how to access them. Did you find what you were looking for? Let them know by using the feedback button on the website

National news

disability strategy

Government publishes the National Disability Strategy

The National Disability Strategy sets out the government’s vision to improve the everyday lives of disabled people. They want to ensure that disability is not a barrier to people living full, independent lives where they can reach their full potential. The strategy was developed with the input of more than 14,000 disabled people, as well as disability organisations, businesses, policy experts and many others.

Will Qunice

An open letter from Children and Families Minister Will Quince

Children and families Minister Will Quince wrote to all parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, to talk about his ambitions for them and their children. The letter includes mention of the long awaited SEND Review and future funding for SEND.


SEND schools funding announcement

The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a ring-fenced £2.6 billion funding in the Budget and Spending Review to create more than 30,000 special school places for children with special educational needs and disabilities. Key announcements include £2.6 billion to create more than 30,000 special school places for children with SEND and £82 million investment into a network of family hubs across England to provide advice and support to families.

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