HW SENDIASS Newsletter December 2021Published: Thursday, 2nd December 2021
Newsletter of resources and information to support parents, carers and young people across a range of topics including Christmas.
HW SENDIASS Newsletter December 2021
New Animation -The Family Conversation
If you have requested a Needs Assessment for your child or young person, the Local Authority will have 6 weeks to decide whether to carry out the assessment or not.To help with this decision, the local authorities in Herefordshire and Worcestershire use the model of the Family Conversation. We have created an animation to help people understand what should happen during the process of the Family Conversation. You can also find it on the video page of our website.
Young Person Advisors
We have Young Person Advisors in both Herefordshire and Worcestershire who can provide information, advice and support directly to young people. We have created a video to introduce Sammy and Jake and explain how they can help. You can also find it on the young person advisor page of our website.
Coping with Christmas
The festive season is here, and we know that this can often be a challenging time for families of children with additional needs. We have produced some information about coping with Christmas. We hope it helps.
Choosing a school for a child with SEND
Primary school admissions are open, and you can apply for schools for September 2022. The application deadline of 15th January 2022 is approaching. You may be looking to visit prospective schools to make your decision. If your child has SEND this can be a particularly difficult decision to make. Take a look at our factsheet, ‘Choosing a school for a child with Special Educational Needs/Disabilities which gives some examples of key questions you might want to ask on your visit.
We are excited to announce that we have recently recruited a Training and Development Officer. This is a brand-new role within our team and the successful candidate, Sally, will be joining us in the new year. She will be responsible for developing and delivering training workshops on a variety of different SEND subjects to parent/carers, young people and professionals across Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
Please contact us on email@example.com if you have any training requirements.
Last week we said goodbye to our Herefordshire advisor, Bev. She is moving on to a new challenge, after over 10 years with the service. We would like to thank Bev for all her hard work and wish her all the best for the future. She will certainly be missed.
Our phone lines will be closed from:
Herefordshire: The end of the day on Friday 17th December – Tuesday 4 January
Worcestershire: The end of the day on Friday 17th December – Tuesday 4 January
Everyone at HW SENDIASS wishes you a very merry Christmas.
Local SEND News- Herefordshire
Parent Carer Voice Survey
Parent Carer Voice, the Herefordshire Parent Carer Forum, are asking for your views on education, social care and health services in the local area. You can have your say in their survey. If you choose to leave your details you will be entered into a prize draw with the chance of winning a £50 voucher of your choice.
New Specialist Provision
September saw the opening of The Beacon College, a specialist provision for further education in Hereford.
Free School Meals
Herefordshire Council have announced that they will be providing free school meals to eligible children throughout the Christmas holiday.
Under this scheme, primary and secondary aged school pupils, who are eligible for benefits related free school meals, will receive a food voucher for the value of £80, or equivalent, for the two-week Christmas holiday. This will be provided directly through schools.
You can find out more on their free school meals webpage.
Local SEND News- Worcestershire
Ofsted Local Area SEND re-visit
From 1st-3rd November 2021 Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out a re-visit of the Worcestershire local area following the previous inspection that took place between 5th to 9th March 2018. Parent carers were invited to share their views via a survey and webinar.
Worcestershire is expecting the report from Ofsted in December.
Capacity within the SEND casework and Educational Psychology teams
The Worcestershire SEND service is currently experiencing significant staffing shortages which could affect your communications with them. Gabrielle Stacey, the Assistant Director for SEND and Vulnerable Learners, has made this statement:
'As you will know, like many services nationally, we have been experiencing significant capacity issues within the WCF SEND casework and Educational Psychology teams since the late summer. Unfortunately this situation has impacted on the timeliness of our Education Health and Care Needs Assessment process and response to Annual Reviews. It has also affected our ability to respond to communication from parent carers in a timely way. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to all those of you who have been affected and thank you for your patience.
We have been working very hard on recruiting experienced and skilled staff to the vacancies. As well as advertising for permanent vacancies, we have been working with agencies on a temporary basis and commissioning reports from independent psychologists where appropriate.
Our progress with the EP team means that the delay in being able to provide EP advice during the EHCNA process has significantly reduced, and currently stands at around 5 weeks. We have also significantly reduced the number of advices which are not yet currently allocated to a psychologist. We forecast that with the measures we are taking, the issues will be resolved by March.
The issues with SEND are also expected to be resolved by March. We still have a small number of caseworker vacancies which are out for advert, but we have made a number of new appointments, with staff starting with the service in the coming weeks and months. To ensure we are able to provide new starters with an effective induction we will be continuing to employ agency staff in the interim.
Finally we have also secured additional capacity in the SEN support service to ensure families have a point of contact during the EHCNA process where communication is an issue with the SEND casework team. This support will remain in place and be monitored closely until the team is back up to capacity.
Once again I would like to apologise for the impact on you as families. We look forward to things getting back on track soon, so that we can focus our attention on our ongoing improvement journey and ensuring good quality assessment, planning and communication.'
Get There Website
Worcestershire Children First have launched their new GET THERE webpage. This brings together information for young people aged 16-25 on careers and training, relationships, money, health and wellbeing, housing and GET SAFE.
Early Help Booklet
Worcestershire Children First have created a booklet ‘Early Help in Worcestershire-Support for Families’. This booklet helps families find out about the help and support available for children and young people aged 0-18 in Worcestershire. You can download a copy from the new Family Hub webpage.
Healthwatch Worcestershire want to hear the views and experiences of young people (age 13 to 19) in Worcestershire. They want to hear about their health and wellbeing, the impact of Covid-19 and what young people think about online information and support for emotional wellbeing. They are asking young people to complete their online survey.
Get Involved Webpage
Worcestershire Children First have launched their new Get Involved webpage. There are lots of ways that parent carers or young people can get involved with helping to shape and develop services across Worcestershire and this webpage brings them all together in one place.
You Said, We Did Report
In early 2021 Worcestershire Children First and Families in Partnership Worcestershire held a survey to gather the views of parent carers on services for children and young people with SEND. The results from this survey have been analysed and compared to previous years in their ‘You Said, We Did’ Report. In the report they outline what they have done so far and what they intend to do as a result of the feedback from the survey.
Children with Disabilities and Additional Needs register
Worcestershire Children First have relaunched a co-produced version of the Children with Disabilities (CWD) register.
The Children with Disabilities and Additional Needs register is an information database designed to collate the contact details of disabled children and young people in Worcestershire.
All Local Authorities have a statutory responsibility to maintain a register of children and young people with disabilities who live in their area.
By registering, families can be kept up to date on services and support within Worcestershire and be involved in the development of new services through surveys, workshops and focus groups. The register is used for statistical information, helping the local authority to make better decisions when planning and developing services for families and children. The register is voluntary and the information provided cannot be verified.
Further information, including a short video, can be found on the Children’s Disability and Additional Needs Register webpage.
Herefordshire’s Christmas Holiday Activities and Food Programme is running throughout the Christmas holidays and is free for all children aged 5 to 16, who are eligible for benefit related free school meals. The activities on offer include climbing, circus skills, dance, rugby, football, boxing, cooking and crafts along with a healthy meal during each session. Some of these activities include specific provisions for children with SEND.
Ready Steady Worcestershire is partnering up with holiday clubs, activity providers and family days out to host The Winter School Holiday Activity Programme. These free activities will be available for families that are eligible for benefit-related Free School Meals. The programme is inclusive of all needs, however, there are also some specialist providers, experienced in activities for children with SEND. For more information and to book your child on to these specialist sessions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Parent Carer Forums
The parent carer forums in our area are both looking for new members.
A parent carer forum is a group of parents and carers of children with additional needs or disabilities. The aim of parent carer forums is to make sure that the services in their local area meet the needs of children with additional needs or disabilities and their families.They do this by gathering the views of local families and then working in partnership with local authorities, education, health and other providers to highlight where local services and processes are working well, or challenge when changes or improvements need to be made.
Any parent carer of a child with additional needs or disability is welcome to join their local parent carer forum. Joining does not mean you have to commit lots of time. As a member you can just be updated with newsletters and have opportunities to complete relevant questionnaires. If you have spare time and would like to be more involved there are further opportunities.
For more information please see the websites below:
This video about parent carer forums explains more about why you might want to join.
National SEND News
Open letter from the Minister for Children and Families
Will Quince, the newly appointed Minister for Children and Families, has written an open letter to parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), their families and those who support them. In the letter, he sets out his plans for delivering the SEND Review.
The Department for Education has updated it's article 'Exams in 2022- Everything you need to know' to reflect the publication of contingency plans in the unlikely event that exams cannot go ahead in 2022.
Annual Health Checks Survey
Council for Disabled Children are working with NHS England to gather the views of young people (aged 14-19) with learning disabilities on annual health checks.
If you would like to share your views on behalf of a young person you can email: email@example.com or young people can take part in their online survey.
New Covid Measures
The education hub blog explains what the new temporary COVID-19 measures mean for early year settings, out-of-school settings, schools, colleges and universities.
BBC Studios is producing a two-part documentary about autism, 'Inside the Autistic Mind'. They are looking for autistic people interested in sharing their experiences. To find out more and get involved email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Courses and Resources
Family Fund E-Learning
Being a carer for a child with additional needs means you may be entitled to additional benefits, grants or other financial help. Family Fund have created a free e-learning course to help you learn more about what you could be entitled to.
Caudwell Children Warm Homes Scheme
Warm Homes is a family support service run by Caudwell Children that seeks to improve the wellbeing of families with disabled children in the East Midlands, West Midlands and North West of England. Households with disabled children often have higher than average energy use. The warm homes scheme aims to identify, engage and support families with disabled children to address their energy efficiency and financial needs.
Mental Health Resources
Healthy Teen Minds and Health Education England (HEE) have produced a set of learning resources for anyone supporting young people in a mental health crisis. Four short 15 minute ‘learning guides’, delivered by young people with lived experience are available for free on their online learning platform, Crisis Tools.