Devon County Council, Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and partner organisations are committed to ensuring that every child with a special educational need or disability (SEND) has the best start in life and the opportunity to thrive.
That’s why we’re currently working together to transform the experience of children and young people with SEND and their families.
Through this transformation project, we hope to change the way we support children and young people with SEND and their families so that they are listened to, have the support they need at the right time and have the guidance they need as they transition into adulthood.
We’ve carried out some initial research that involved speaking to parent carer representatives, and staff in education, health and social care services to better understand how the current service feels for them, how we can improve our SEND offer and the best way to ensure each service area works more collaboratively together.
These valuable insights told us that we have a dedicated staff team as well as committed parents and carers who are all supportive of the development of a streamlined SEND service, enabling a consistent approach to care and support.
It also told us that there is widespread agreement amongst families and professionals that the SEND process needs to be integrated across all agencies and partners to ensure children and families only have to tell their story once and feel they are working with one team. The system needs to be more consistent across the county, with better communication between agencies and professionals and providing clearer and easy to access information for young people and parents and carers.
We are beginning a SEND transformation programme, which will take 18 months to 2 years. We are starting this programme by co-designing and co-developing a new and refreshed vision, priorities and strategy for the SEND service.
The aim of the new service will be to ensure that every child has the support they need as early as possible, to prevent the need for more complex care at a later date and to support their transition into adulthood. The system will be designed with children and young people at the centre, so they are heard by the team and are able to be part of the decision-making process.
It will also ensure better communication and partnership working between agencies and professionals, to enable a more consistent and collaborative approach and ensure the best possible outcomes for children and young people. We want to strengthen the trust and confidence between families and the system, as well as between each different part of the system so we’re all working more closely together.
The final phase of the programme will involve extending the integrated SEND system to include preparation for adulthood, health, schools and commissioned service functions to provide a seamless service. This phase will commence when the new strategy has been developed and implemented across DCC’s and NHS Devon CCG’s SEND services.
Why is the transformation project happening?
The SEND Transformation project is being driven by several factors. DCC and NHS Devon CCG have a statutory duty to deliver services that improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND. We believe all children deserve the best start in life and are committed to delivering the best possible services to help children and young people achieve their potential. However, issues of concern identified in the research include fragmented services, siloed working and communication difficulties.
In response to the 2018 joint Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) Local Area SEND inspection, Devon committed to an outcome measure in which ‘parents and young people’s lived experience of SEND support is of an integrated service that works together, and with them, to ensure young people receive the right support at the right time’. Outcome measures were also agreed in relation to improving communication with children, young people and families, through active participation, and co-designing strategies, services and key decisions. The Transformation project will enable us to deliver these outcomes.
In addition, the 2020 Children’s Social Care (CSC) Ofsted inspection 2020 identified that, ‘the service provided to disabled children is inconsistent across Devon… the service operates in isolation from the rest of children’s services. Changes in personnel and a lack of analysis in case supervision result in plans for children that are narrow and focus on health issues rather than wider safeguarding concerns.’ In response to this, CSC is bringing forward plans to integrate and improve the working practice between Disabled Children’s Services with the SEND 0-25 team; and developing the quality of practice (including safeguarding).
What decisions have already been made about SEND services?
Following consultation with professionals, parents and carers, and children and young people, a new strategy for Devon’s SEND service has been written, and from that a proposed new design model has been created – taking into consideration thoughts and feedback from a range of people across Devon.
The proposed new design model for Devon’s SEND service was presented to the SEND Improvement Board on Thursday 24 June where it was unanimously agreed. The team will now move onto the next stage of planning alongside senior managers, including a resource mapping exercise, before seeking final sign off from the Devon Children and Families Partnership (DCFP) Executive in the autumn.
Will I have to go through the SEND process again to get the support my child needs?
No, if your child is already receiving support, that will not change. However, as the implementation progresses, you will start to benefit from the more integrated system, that will include better communication with you and with the professionals and agencies supporting you and your child. This may take time to impact you directly as changes are implemented.
Are you cutting available services for my child?
No, the aim of this project is not to cut any services currently available. We aim to improve access to services so that children and families get the support and help they need sooner, rather than having to apply for an Education, Health and Care Plan as the only way to get help and support.