SEND Improvement Journey e-newsletter - March (updated)

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    stockport council

    A message to parents/carers of children across Stockport, from early years, children’s and education service leaders.

    chris McLoughlin

    First of all, we want to thank you, our community, for your support in these unprecedented times.

    We are conscious that you may be very anxious, as are our staff (many of whom are also parents/carers) about the current situation.

    We want to reassure you that our headteachers and leaders from across all age ranges and types of early years settings, schools and colleges are working together with the professional associations, the local authority and our health partners and PACTS, SENDIASS and other parent carer representatives to provide the best service that we can for your children.

    Most of our early years’ settings, schools and colleges have remained open as a place of safety for the most vulnerable children and the children of key workers who are needed to keep our frontline services working.

    The early years settings, schools and colleges that are open are no longer providing education in a way that we would have previously recognised. Instead they are providing care and a safe environment.

    We want to thank you for respecting the view that, wherever possible, children should be cared for at home. This is the view of central government. We also appreciate that you have avoided contacting early years settings, schools and colleges unless the matter has been urgent and about your child’s welfare and safety.

    We have worked together across Stockport to ensure that resources and support are in place for children both in childcare and education settings and at home. Over the coming weeks you, as parents/carers, can be assured that services will continue to work to the best of our ability to support your needs and that of your children. Please rest assured that as the requirements of our communities become clearer, we will make every endeavour to respond with the resources that we have. We understand that this is a worrying time for all. We have developed information, advice and resources to keep you updated and to support you and your family. You can access these by clicking here (Stockport SEND Local Offer).

    Please also visit the council’s webpages ( for the latest information, advice and support in relation to Coronavirus.

    Thank you again for your support. Between us we can keep Stockport as safe as it can be

    chris m sign

    Chris McLoughlin

    Director of Children’s Services

    Update from Stockport Council Services

    This is a uncertain time for us all and information and advice is rapidly changing. Please keep checking the Stockport Council website at which will be continuously updated with the latest news, advice and help in relation to Stockport residents, and the NHS website, where you can learn more about the virus, how to protect yourself and others, and what to do if you're feeling unwell. If you would like to know more about the guidance, you can stay up to date with updates.

    We will be updating our social media pages regularly so make sure you're following us on our Facebook and Twitter pages. If you have any resources about the coronavirus, staying at home, social distancing or something else that may be helpful, especially in relation to children and young people with SEND, please do get in touch with us and share these if you can on Facebook and Twitter.

    If you do not have access to social media, or know someone else who doesn’t, please keep up to date with our Local Offer web page which will be updated with guidance, resources and information about support. We are also working closely with PACTS, SENDIASS and other parent carer representatives.

    Stay at home

    Update to services

    Early Years and Childcare

    As a key principle, the council leadership team is working towards all children remaining at home if possible.

    All schools are remaining open for the most vulnerable children and children of COVID-19 responders only. Whilst this may mean that schools in your area are only open for a very small number of children, this will limit movement between schools and families reducing the risk of further spread of CV19 across the Borough.

    There are a small number of childminders and early years’ settings able to remain open.Where a Childminder or an early years setting has remained open the council leadership team will co-ordinate the childcare of the children of the COVID-19 responders, trying to limit the movement of children and families if at all possible.

    The preferred option is for children wherever possible to stay at home but the current point of contact for matters relating to early years children/settings/childcare is

    If you need to access school provision for your child with an EHCP and are struggling to make contact with your child/ young person’s setting. You can email and we will facilitate a conversation to support you.


    Healthy Young Minds   

    There are currently no service changes for children and young people.  Referrals from general practitioners and other health and care professionals will be accepted.  New referrals will be screened in the same way and routine appointments and follow-up will continue over the telephone.  Much of the work will be done via telephone contact however any face to face appointments will be offered where necessary, subject to the needs and risk of children, young people and families.  The trust is currently working with staff to enable them to offer video conferencing to give CYP and families a choice. 

    There is likely to be a delay on the neurodevelopment assessment pathways (ASD and ADHD) due to parts of the assessment requiring specialist face to face observation and use of specialist equipment, HYMS is working closely with the Trust to think how some of this work can be delivered through other modes.

    Find out more: 


    The Children's Therapy Service

    The Children's Therapy Service are working on putting training videos together, how to offer video based appointments and setting up closed Facebook groups for children with similar needs so we can offer advice/training, targeted to a group without breaching copyright laws.

    The services will be aiming to contact parents on our waiting list during this time and to carry out what can be done via telephone/video contacts. 

    If you need to contact us during this time, please do so either by email: or our admin numbers: 0161 419 2052 or 07894 802061


    Stockport Inclusion Services

    Stockport’s Inclusion Services (Educational Psychology, Behaviour Support, Learning Support, Inclusion Co-ordinators, Sensory Service and Ethnic Diversity) are continuing to operate during this period of Covid-19 and school closures.  Our Inclusion Services are in contact with schools, settings, parents/ carers to provide advice and support, and are developing a wider offer to families which will be promoted on the Local Offer website in the next few days.


    Autism Team

    If parents/ carers want support, advice or have any queries  email us on . The team will continue support any families/ carers and young people during this challenging time.



    The Portage Service is currently offering telephone appointments to children in place of the home visits they were receiving. Group Stay and Play sessions are cancelled until further notice.

    The office is currently closed so we are unable to take calls via the office number.

    Children who were on the waiting list or awaiting an initial visit will be contacted within the next week to provide them with a mobile number of one of the Senior Portage Workers whom they can contact if they need support with a specific issue during this period.

    Once we are back up and running, we will contact families individually to book a home visit with them. Invitations will be sent by post for Stay and Play Groups once they resume.

    For any general enquiries, please contact Carmen Donaghy on 07527387053 or email us at


    Short breaks

    Given the Government’s direction and advice around social distancing, community short breaks will cease for the foreseeable future.  This is a rapidly changing situation and the position will be reviewed daily in line with any further government guidance.  Social workers and aiming high workers are in regular contact with all families in receipt of a short break to explain the current situation and assess any issues of support that are required or risk to the child so that plans can be put in place to address these.

    if you have any questions or queries about the information provided or for anything else, please contact, please email us at

    Frequently Asked Questions

    The Department of Education (DfE) has put together a list of the most Frequently asked questions.

    The DfE have also published guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19

    "I am a critical worker or have a vulnerable child but I don’t want to send my child in to school or childcare, do I have to?"

    Many parents working in these critical sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

    This is an offer to parents and carers and there is no requirement for parents and carers to send their children to school if they do not need or wish to do so.

    For vulnerable children, your child’s social worker will work with you to assess the best option for your child.

    Please see section 5.3 in the DfE guidance

    "What do I do if my child has an EHC plan and I want them to stay at home?"

    Special schools, colleges and local authorities are advised to make case by case basis assessments of the health and safeguarding considerations of pupils and students on an education, health and care (EHC) plan. For some, they will be safer in an education provision. For others, they will be safer at home. We trust leaders and parents to make these decisions and will support them as required.

    Please see section 4.1 of the DfE guidance

    "Will my child be cared for over the Easter Holidays?"

    The Council are working with representatives from the Headteacher community every day to agree principles to support arrangements for the Easter break.

    We have received a number of questions about the use of sports coaches/ out of school clubs and their involvement in supporting schools over the Easter break.

    Before providing any advice we are working to ensure that this information is always in line with the DfE and Public Health England in respect of the position we are in, due to CoronaVirus19. 

    You will receive communication from you child's nursery/school/college in due course.

    Please see section 1.5 in the DfE guidance

    "I am a critical worker or have a vulnerable child - can you guarantee that my child will attend their usual school or childcare provider?"

    We are expecting the majority of settings to stay open for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children so they can continue to attend their usual provider, but we acknowledge this will be impossible for some - such as small rural schools.

    Where a school is unable to stay open, we will work with the local educational authority, regional school commissioners and neighbouring providers to find an alternative setting for their pupils.

    Please see section 1.6 in the DfE guidance

    Parents and Carers Together Stockport (PACTS).


    PACTS is available by phoning 07786 101072 or by email at and through their social media networks and social networks such as Twitter @PACTSTOCKPORT

    They are currently looking into hosting webinar sessions for people to join from their own homes. Please keep a look out on their social media to find out more..

    Funding is available to communities supporting people during the crisis

    Stockport Local Fund

    Grants of £200 to £1000 are available from Stockport Local Fund: Community Support to provide financial support to community organisations that are providing vital services during the coronavirus pandemic. These will be aimed at helping people most affected by the pandemic, including older people, children and young people, and families and people on low incomes.

    Groups can apply for anything they need to support people during the crisis, including food provision and parcels for vulnerable people, running costs, equipment, resources, volunteer expenses, emergency supplies, practical support, transport and other necessities.

    Find out more here

    TPA Updated Service in response to COVID -19


    In response to the developing situation with COVID– 19 The Prevention Alliance have made some changes to the way we are working to protect both the people we work with, as well as our staff.

    We will continue to work with anyone in Stockport who needs help and advice with the following –

    ·      Health & Wellbeing

    ·      Benefits/Income

    ·      Loneliness and befriending

    ·      Housing circumstances

    ·      Other services available in your area

    Our specialist keyworkers are also available to offer support around domestic abuse.

    If you would like to speak with one of our keyworkers, our TPA phone line 0161 474 1042 continues to be staffed

    Monday – Friday 09:00 – 16:30.

    Update to Apprenticeships

    apprenticeships store

    Any queries regarding apprenticeship and how they are being impacted by the Covid-19 virus should be directed to the Apprenticeships store email

    Webpages for personal wellbeing during the Coronavirus outbreak


    Times like these often feel difficult. Many of us are being asked to practice self-isolation or social distancing which can make you feel alone, anxious or stressed, and your children and families may also be worried about current events.

    But there are lots of things you can try that could help your wellbeing and the wellbeing of your family. The following section of the newsletter is dedicated to listing and linking to resources that might help you

    Coronavirus helpline

    CV helpline

    The Council has introduced a dedicated coronavirus helpline for vulnerable people.

    It means that the most vulnerable people in Stockport will be able to access support Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm and on Saturdays from 10am to 4pm, by calling 0161 217 6046.

    The helpline will provide advice and tell you how you can access support. You can call the helpline if do not have a network of family and friends you can call upon for support particularly if:

    ·         you're over the age of 70 and you're self isolating

    ·         you have received a letter from the NHS advising you're high risk and should stay at home

    ·         you're medically vulnerable according to the government criteria and should stay at home

    Read more here

    The Stockport Local Offer has lots of links to other websites that provide resources for mental wellbeing, including children-specific help sites such as Childline. It also has a list of where you can find support.

    Mind has a fantastic webpage packed with help, advice, suggestions and resources to help you cope if you are having to self-isolate, work from home, or if you're feeling anxious. It has an excellent checklist if you're prepared to stay at home, and has plenty of resources on how to take care of your mental health.

    The UK Mental Health Foundation also has a webpage that is full of useful advice and help about how to look after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak. They also have advice on how to talk to children about scary world news.

    Five Rivers also have a very useful webpage that has hints and tips to manage your mental wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak.

    Headspace has some free, short and simple exercises and resources to help with mindfulness and sleeplessness.

    wellbeing calendar

    Talking to children and young people about Coronavirus

    The British Psychological Society has created some simple, effective guidance around how to talk to your children about coronovirus. 

    Click HERE to read the full document

    1.  It is good to talk: Children will have heard about Coronavirus and likely noticed changes around them (such as people wearing face masks). It is important they feel comfortable talking to you about Coronavirus as you will be the best source of information and reassurance for them. It’s also likely they will talk to their friends or other children, which can involve imagination and misinformation. So having the chance to check-in with you is even more helpful.

    2. Be truthful but remember your child’s age: It is better for children to take an honest and accurate approach – give them factual information, but adjust the amount and detail to fit their age. For example, you might say ‘we don’t yet have a vaccination for Coronavirus, but doctors are working very hard on it’ or ‘a lot of people might get sick, but normally it is like a cold or flu and they get better’. Younger children might understand a cartoon or picture better. We also recommend that adults watch news programmes and then filter this information to their child in a developmentally appropriate way.

    3. Allow children to ask questions: It is natural that children will have questions, and likely worries, about Coronavirus. Giving them the space to ask these questions and have answers is a good way to alleviate anxiety. Again, try to be honest in your responses – it is ok to say you don’t know. At the moment, there are questions we don’t have answers to about Coronavirus – you can explain this to your child and add in information about what people are doing to try to answer these questions. Maybe your child has an idea too – let them tell you or draw them.

    4. Try to manage your own worries: Uncertainty can make all of us feel anxious or worried. Identify other adults you can talk to about your own worries and questions. What things usually help to make you feel a bit calmer? If you are at home, music, breathing and relaxation techniques, distraction (such as watching something funny), and time with family members or pets can all help. Talk to your children when you feel calm – it will reassure them. Please also see our guide to supporting children and young people with worries about COVID 19/Coronavirus-  click here to download information.

    5. Give practical guidance: Remind your child of the most important things they can do to stay healthy – washing their hands and the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ advice for coughs and sneezes. Help your child practise and increase their motivation for keeping going (maybe thinking of a song they want to sing while washing their hands).


    Below is a list of advice and guidance about what adults can do to help and support children and young people.

    Resources and activities for Children and Young People


    Free books to access online

    free books

    More useful websites:

    Primary Health and Wellbeing Challenges

    primary health and wellbeing

    Secondary Health and Wellbeing Challenges

    secondary health and wellbeing

    p.e with Joe

    Free daily P.E. lessons to keep active

    Joe Wicks, AKA The Body Coach, is hosting free indoor P.E. lessons for kids (and their families!) on YouTube. This is great to keep everybody moving, active and healthy, even whilst staying indoors. You can find his YouTube channel with all of his children-friendly videos here.

    The workouts are suitable for all ages and abilities and you won't need any equipment to be able to do these.

    nhs poster

    Update on our SEND Improvement Journey

    SEND Champions - Stockport Council Leaders

    At a recent Council staff meeting, we represented the SEND improvement journey at a briefing to the whole Stockport Council workforce. Chief Executive of Stockport Council Pam Smith (left) and Leader of Stockport Council Cllr Elise Wilson (right) were showcasing our lovely blue SEND Champion t-shirts!

    send champions


    Join us on Facebook and Twitter!

    The SEND team have a Facebook group, Stockport Council SEND, and we also have a Twitter account @SMBC_SEND.

    Join us for all the latest news, updates, and events.


    Our new YouTube channel!

    We have made a new YouTube channel called Stockport Council SEND to show and tell you all about our work. We cover multiple topics, including a video to tell you all about Stockport's SEND Local Offer, so check that out here!

    As a reminder! The SEND Local Offer 

    Stockport's SEND Local Offer is a website that brings together a range of support services and information for children and young people aged 0-25, with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). 

    Pact information day

    Success! PACTS Information Day 3rd March

    The PACTS (Parents And Carers Together Stockport) Information Day that took place on the 3rd March was a huge success. Many thanks to everyone who organised and contributed to the event as well as those who attended - it was a pleasure chatting with you all. 

    If you would like to ask us any questions or follow up about anything from the event,  then please email us

    SEND e-learning training... on the way to you!

    We have developed E-learning on SEND which we aspire to rollout to everybody in the first week of April. Everybody is welcome to partake in the training- from parents and carers to your neighbour. Please keep a lookout on the Local Offer website and our social media pages to find out when it will be live.

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