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Devon’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Local Offer

You said, we did

As part of our SEND Strategy, we are committed to building trust and co-producing services with you.

‘You said, we did’ is about sharing what we have done, based on what you have told us, and the difference it makes.

The SEND Local Offer website

You said

We would like access to consistent, accurate and reliable information, advice and guidance online about local SEND services in Devon.

The Local Offer website is currently too difficult to navigate and information is often hard to find.

We did

We have developed a new Local Offer website which we have made more accessible and easier to navigate.

We will continue to review and develop the Local Offer. Let us know what you think about the new website.

Advice and guidance during COVID-19

You said

Communication – locally and nationally – was not always as clear and consistent as it should have been. The amount of new information coming out each day was often overwhelming. This caused confusion among families about what support was still available during the pandemic and how to access it.

We did

We worked together with the Parent Carer Forum to make sure our communication was clearer, more accessible and less overwhelming.

Updates about national COVID-19 restrictions and the SEND legislation, any resulting changes to local services and what support was on offer locally to families, were shared through the social media and websites of the Devon Children and Families Partnership.

The Partnership includes Devon County Council, NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS providers including Children and Family Health Devon and Devon and Cornwall Police, as well as directly through frontline services including schools and Devon Information, Advice and Support.

We also worked together with parents, carers and schools to produce a set of questions and answers to provide clarity about education during COVID-19.

Direct payments during the COVID-19 restrictions

You said

We would like direct payments to be used more effectively by allowing families to purchase support more flexibly, creatively and consistently across Devon.

We did

To support families during the pandemic, we introduced new flexibilities to how direct payments could be used while COVID-19 restrictions and closures were in place.

These changes allowed:

  • family members to be paid for the provision of care
  • the purchasing of equipment or technology to support education, entertainment and wellbeing at home

Short breaks during the COVID-19 restrictions

You said

We can’t access some of the support we normally do due to COVID-19 restrictions being in place.

We aren’t seeing our friends or going out and about as much during the pandemic.

We don’t want to attend groups because that feels too scary right now, or my usual group isn’t available.

We did

Short breaks providers developed outreach offers to reach individual children who were missing group events due to restrictions or clinical vulnerability.

Some short breaks providers have created new opportunities to run social groups around shared hobbies and interests (for example, a Lego club, Pokémon group and arts and crafts). Some of these groups have met virtually, while others are face-to-face, making sure as many people can join in as possible.

Some short breaks providers have created virtual platforms in order to deliver support differently. This has included running virtual discos, a forest school, cookery lessons, fitness challenges, mindfulness techniques, virtual tours of local attractions and puppet shows.

Exemptions to COVID-19 restrictions

You said

During lockdown, children and young people with additional needs, including autism and/or learning disabilities, and their families and carers, should have an exemption from daily exercise and travel limits in order to go to more open and less crowded spaces.

We did

During the first national lockdown, alongside Torbay Council, Plymouth City Council, NHS Devon CCG and Devon and Cornwall Police we agreed and published an exemption letter to allow families with children with additional needs to travel for exercise.

Devon and Cornwall Police communicated with their frontline officers to make sure they always took an approach of engagement of understanding individual circumstances, rather than any enforcement.

We also worked with special schools to set up walking groups and provided bikes to young people to support them to exercise during lockdown.

Exmouth Community College expansion

You said

We can’t see positive impacts for young people with SEND through the plans to expand school places at Exmouth Community College.

We did

We have reviewed our consultation processes and templates to ensure that the benefits for children and young people with SEND are clearly visible in our plans in the future.

The planned expansion at Exmouth Community College includes improving the current offer for pupils with SEND by freeing up other spaces in the College as specific SEND-focused areas and providing additional places for pupils with SEND.

The new building will provide additional space for smaller work with pupils with SEND, like one-to-one support. The new block will be fully accessible and provide spacious and bright classroom environments.

We are expecting a decision on the proposed plans from the Regional Schools Commissioner during autumn 2021.

Digital access

You said

Some of us have struggled during lockdown to access support online because we don’t have a computer or tablet, stable internet connection or good IT skills.

We did

Devon County Council and the district councils made available local hardship funds, throughout the pandemic which helped families access necessary IT equipment and broadband.

In addition, through national funding, over 5000 devices, including laptops and 4G routers, have been distributed by schools and Devon County Council to families to help make sure children could still learn online from home.

Equipment provision

You said

Children and their families are waiting too long to receive equipment, and sometimes this arrives not in good order.

We did

We held an engagement session in June 2021 to find out more about your experiences of equipment provision.

Based on what you told us, so far, we have:

  • shared your feedback with our equipment provider Millbrook, as well as with physiotherapy and occupational therapy services
  • set up an equipment forum to consider how children feel about their equipment

We have also published a survey which closes at the end of August which will help us understand your experiences in more detail. We plan to take more action once the survey closes and we will update further in October.

Ambassador Volunteer Programme

You said

The Ambassador Volunteer Programme is due to end. We would like it to continue.

We did

We acknowledge the positive impact that the Programme has had. We are extending the funding, for this financial year, so that the Programme can continue and expand local networks of support for parent carers across Devon.

Head to the Devon information Advice and Support (DIAS) website to find out more and see how you can get involved.

How you can get involved

Complete our online form if you want to let us know your thoughts about any SEND services in Devon.

Whether you’re a child, young person, parent or carer, you can find out more about making your voice heard and getting involved in shaping local services.