Area of Focus
The children and Families Act 2014 came into force on the 1st September 2014. It is the most significant transformation of the system for children and young people with special education needs and disabilities ( SEND), in over 30 Years. Within the children and Families Act 2014, Part 3, there is a duty on all local authorities, to publish details of services and provisions in the area available to support families with a child or young person with special educational needs (SEN), and/or a disability. This is called the ‘Local Offer’.
The Local Offer is intended to be more than just a website or service directory – it must be “ Co-Produced” with local families so it reflects the issues that are important to them, and the information must be accurate, consistent and easy to access. The Children and Families Act 2014, its associated regulations called ‘ The Special Educational Needs (Local Offer) Regulations 2014 Clause 30’ and the new SEND Code of Practice puts greater emphasis on the need to consult with a wide range of stakeholders ( paragraph 4) and the need to involve children, their parents and young people in preparation and to review the local offer (Paragraph 5). There is also a requirement on local authorities to publish the comments received on the local Offer on an annual basis ( paragraph 6) .
Our Journey so far
North Lincolnshire Local Authority published its first version of the Local Offer on the 1st September 2014 in line with its statutory duty. This initial version was seen as the first phase of development of the Local Offer, as we were cognisant of the fact that there would be further work that needed to be undertaken, to ensure that stakeholders had the opportunity to shape provision locally, to meet the needs of children and young people. Although, by the Autumn term 2015 we were fully compliant with all the requirements of the Local Offer, as outlined by the Code of Practice and this was recognised by the DfE, we are aware of the necessity that we will be further refining the Local Offer, as we see it as being organic if it is to respond to local needs.
What are we doing?
- We have worked closely with our local Parent’s Involvement Participation (PIP) Forum as joint partners to commission the Local Offer website. PIP were involved in the shortlisting and final choice of successful tender.
- We consulted on our Local Offer with key stakeholders – Heads, parents and carers and families, in total 330 people altogether attended our Baths Hall event in July 2014. Feedback was used to develop our Local Offer. A follow up successful event with a focus on schools and colleges ( Heads, Chair of Governors and SENCo) took place on the 14th July 2016. Further details are available in the 2nd annual report ‘You Said, We Did’ 2015-2016 as well as the Local Offer website http://www.northlincslocaloffer.com/s4s/WhereILive/Council?pageId=836
- Prior to this we ran a series of workshops on various key SEND reforms, including the Local Offer. More recently a series of co-produced and co delivered SEND Roadshows with the PIP forum, were held in May 2016. Feedback from these sessions have been used to develop the Local Offer in North Lincolnshire, as well as plan our forthcoming Parents and carers conference in November 2016.
We have subsequently provided information on the Local Offer to capture a wider audience at every suitable opportunity. Examples of this are the ‘I Need To Know’ event with Contact a Family/ DfE and Kaleidoscope, on the 3rd December 2014 at the Wortley House Hotel, PIP Forum Annual Conference Feb 2015 and at ‘CHSWEG’,The ‘CHSWG’ or the Children’s Hearing Services Working Group, which is a group which meets at the Audiology Clinic of Scunthorpe General Hospital in the Autumn term 2015. Feedback has been used to further refine and shape the Local Offer.
- An annual Local Offer questionnaire was sent to all parents and carers of children with either a statement or Education, Health and Care plan at the end of the summer term 2015 and again in 2016 to get their views on the Local Offer. A similar questionnaire, but personalised, was sent to young people. Both questionnaires were also available to complete online on the Local Offer website for those who wished to do this electronically, and open to those who had SEN Support needs as well. Questionnaires were publicised in schools, colleges and early year’s settings to encourage a good return. The findings are detailed in our annual ‘You said. We did’ report available to read on http://www.northlincslocaloffer.com/s4s/WhereILive/Council?pageId=836 on our local Offer website. Our second annual ‘You said. We did’ covering the period 2015-2016 is now also available.
- Two DfE monitoring visits have taken place by Dr Charlie Palmer in relation to how well we are implementing the SEND reforms. Following the monitoring visit the DfE have said that North Lincolnshire’s Local Offer website “was among the best seen”. Other positive comments made were that “the site was easy to use and had good visual appeal” and “ accessibility options were very easy to use and effective”. Furthermore, it has been recognised by the DfE that we are fully compliant with the requirements in relation to the Local Offer ( see notes of meetings).
- Took part in the Yorkshire and Humber region Local Offer Peer Review. Findings of this have been used to reflect and improve our local Offer further and a review of this has been undertaken in August 2016.
- Commissioned three animation videos on the Local Offer, SEN support, EHC plans which were produced by our children and young people with SEND needs and launched at our schools and colleges conference. These were commissioned in order for our children and young people to have a powerful voice and say in the development of the Local Offer.
What difference has this made?
- The Local Offer has already evolved considerably based on the feedback we have already received from parents and carers and young people. We envisage that our Local Offer will continue to be further refined and shaped by stakeholder needs.
- Hard copies of Local Offer leaflets have been sent out directly by mail to all parents and carers and young people with statements and EHC plans. In addition, copies of the leaflets and posters have been sent to all educational settings for young people on SEN support, We have also sent copies to local hospitals, GP surgeries, Dentists, Libraries and other public places where families can access information. Presentations are regularly shared in council buildings.
- More people are accessing the Local Offer website (see google analytics usage information)
- The detailed two annual ‘You said, We did’ covering the periods 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 reports on the Local Offer highlight the difference that is being made.
- All services to review and update the information available on the Local Offer, especially now that the inclusion Services is now nearly complete
- Continue to work with partners, especially Health to make sure their information is up to date and complete for all relevant service that are available for families
- Continue to publicise and get feedback from parents and carers on the Local Offer (May and August)
- Get specific feedback from young people, as to how they would like to see the Local Offer evolve from their perspective
- Build on the production of the user friendly animation videos on the Local Offer, to engage with more children and young people so that they access and own the Local Offer.
- Continue to work with our educational settings to ensure full compliance with the SEND reform
Key evidence documents
- North Lincolnshire Local Offer Consultation & Feedback Annual Reports for 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 – ‘You Said, We Did’
- DfE monitoring visits – notes of meetings
- Google Analytics information on users included in the 2nd annual report.
- Yorkshire and Humber region Local Offer Peer Review updated August 2016
Authors: Kay Mitchell – Gough PIP forum Sameena Choudry SEND Project Manager