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The Cumbria SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) Improvement Programme, created to respond to the recent Ofsted/CQC local area SEND inspection, now has an e-newsletter.

NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group is a lead partner in the improvement programme. The newsletter contains information about the programme, the progress that’s been made so far and the plans for how parents/carers and children/young adults can get involved.

It is also includes the draft Written Statement of Action, the plan that sets out how Cumbria is responding to the inspection recommendations.

Scroll down to view a JSNA Emotional Health & Wellbeing Deep Dive.

The first requirement by Ofsted/CQC was for the three lead agencies to produce a document called a Written Statement of Action (WSoA). The WSoA is a plan which sets out how we will respond to the specific recommendations made in the inspection report. The WSoA had to be submitted to the Department for Education by 21 August for their approval.

A draft version of the WSoA was circulated to parents/carers for comment via the Cumbria Parent Carer Forum and that feedback informed the version that was submitted. We recognise that there was limited time to provide feedback because of the August deadline and would have preferred more time to engage with parents/carers and children/young adults.

The WSoA does not limit us and is not everything that needs to be done to improve services. It is what we must deliver, but it can be added to as the project progresses. But while we await final approval of the WSoA by Ofsted/CQC we will continue to progress the actions that have been identified so far.

The SEND Improvement Programme is being led by an Improvement Board. The Board includes senior officers and Councillors from CCC and the NHS as well as parent/carer representatives from the Cumbria Parent Carer Forum. The Board is Chaired by Linda Clegg. Linda is independent of both CCC and the NHS and has extensive experience of working on similar projects across the country. The Board oversees the whole project, ensures progress is being made and takes key decisions.

The work to develop and deliver the improvement activity is managed by six Working Groups. These are:

  1. Understanding of local need
  2. Commissioning and access to provision
  3. Engagement and co-production
  4. Preparation for adulthood
  5. Emotional health and well-being
  6. SEN support

All working groups include representatives from relevant agencies, including CCC and the NHS. There will also be parent/carer representatives on these groups (more about this below). Most Working Groups have had one or two meetings so far and a calendar of future meetings is being developed. All the actions that the Working Groups have so far agreed can be found in the Written Statement of Action.

Details of these meetings can be found on the Local Offer pages we have created for this programme.

We are committed to working with parents, carers, children and young adults to improve services. Learning from your experiences is fundamental to ensure the right decisions are made about how services should change. The Engagement and Co-Production Working Group is developing how this will happen. We want to provide a range of ways to get involved, recognising that the time people have to commit to this will vary.

So far parents/carers are represented on the SEND Improvement Board through the Cumbria Parent Carer Forum (CPCF). Parents/carers will also be represented on the six working groups. Over 40 people put their names forward to be considered to attend Working Groups after a request via the CPCF.

An initial meeting with these parent/carers took place on 16 August which considered how best to organise parent/carer representation on the groups. Parents/carers who attended the meeting agreed a process to select four representatives per working group to share the task of representing parent/carers and these names will be confirmed soon. The process will ensure a mix of parents/carers from different parts of the county and with children with a wide range of needs.

Working Groups are only one way that parents/carers will be involved. We will be developing a full programme of engagement and co-production on specific topics, in discussion with parents/carers, which will take place over the coming months. Make sure you sign up for these email alerts to keep up to date.

We will also have a strong focus on working directly with children and young adults to ensure their views inform and guide our work.

One of the first things we will be doing is to conduct a large scale survey of all parents/carers of children and young people with an EHCP, and a similar survey for SEN Support. This will provide important information about your experiences. Hearing from as many parents/carers as possible is important and we hope you will take time to respond. Sign up to email alerts to keep up to date.

JSNA Emotional Health & Wellbeing Deep Dive
Recorded Conversation with Parents/Carers and Senior Leaders 

Following the Cumbria SEND inspection, Senior Leaders were told that they “lack a deep understanding of the needs of the SEND population.” In order to address these concerns Working Group One (Local Need) worked with parents/carers and agreed to focus on a number of topics that we would “Deep Dive” into, to improve Senior Leader understanding of the key issues.

Emotional Health and Wellbeing specifically related to learning disabilities and autism were chosen as the first area. A report was written collating everything we already know about this topic from the data we have available and the engagement work that we have carried out with families. This report was shared with parent/carers for further comment with the intention of capturing the lived experience of families.

A conversation was then organised with parent/carer representatives and Senior Leaders in the SEND system to discuss the report, to listen and hear the parent/carer voice and add further context and depth to the issue. 

Full report available here and video recording of discussion below: