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Staffordshire’s SEND Local Offer - Annual Report April 2020-March 2021

Welcome to the 2020-2021 annual report for Staffordshire’s Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Local Offer.

Introduction

Staffordshire SEND Local Offer

Staffordshire’s SEND Local Offer provides information, support and services for children and young people from 0-25 years, all in one place. 

It has sections on: Education, Early Years and Childcare; Social Care, Health and Wellness, Travel and Transport, Information and Support, Extra help, Money Matters, Places to go, things to do, Preparing for Adulthood, Policy and Forms Library, and more.

Parents, children, young people and practitioners can search by age, district or type of service, such as commissioned, voluntary or private.

What the law says

All local authorities must publish a SEND Local Offer setting out in one place information about services and support available for children and young people in their area who have special educational needs and/or disabilities. 

Local authorities and their partner bodies and agencies must co-operate with each other in its development and review.

The Local Offer has two key purposes:

  • To provide clear, comprehensive, accessible and up-to-date information about the available provision and how to access it, and 
  • To make provision more responsive to local needs and aspirations by directly involving children, young people, parents, carers and service providers in its development and review. 

Governance

SEND Local Offer Sub Group

The SEND Local Offer Sub group has oversight of the SEND Local Offer and reports to the SEND and Inclusion Partnership Group. The group has responsibilities to ensure the implementation of the SEND Strategy and the Written Statement of Action in relation to this area of work. The group meets bi-monthly with representation from parents/carers and professionals from across children and adult services, education, health and social care.  See Governance Chart.

Specific Areas for the SEND Local Offer Sub group

  1. To ensure the SEND Local Offer meets its statutory responsibilities as outlined in the Children and Families Act 2014 and SEND Code of Practice 2015.

  2. To involve children and young people and parents and carers in the development and review of the SEND Local Offer.

  3. To ensure the site is accessible.

  4. To promote the site and ensure all stakeholders are aware of their role and duties.

  5. To keep the content under review, ensuring that the SEND Local Offer is:
    • developed and continuously improved
    • reflects services in the local area
    • accurate and up to date
    • easy to understand
    • easy to use
    • meets the requirements of children and young people and parents and carers.

Quote from Voice for Change representative

 “We have been involved in the Local Offer Sub-Group from the beginning.  We have provided feedback as a critical friend and feel that even the negative responses have been taken in a positive manner.   Our solution ideas have been accepted and we have always been made to feel part of the Sub-Group and respected.   Our opinions have always been valued and our ideas have been acted upon, i.e. videos to explain the local offer to people and setting up a Facebook page, which has resulted in our involvement being worthwhile”.

How many have people have visited the SEND Local Offer website?

  • 1 April 2020 - 31 March 2021 the SEND Local Offer had 34,081 users with 155,812 page views.

  • 1 April 2019 - 31 March 2020 the SEND Local Offer had 28,204 users with 173,774 page views.  

     This is an increase of 5,877 users from the previous year.

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A user is a visitor who has initiated at least one session during the date range.

What did they look at?

Information and guidance pages

Top 5 most popular information pages for 2020/21 were:

  1. Requesting an Education Health and Care Needs Assessment
  2. Children's Mental Health Support Pathway
  3. Early Years Forums
  4. The Graduated Response in Early Years Settings and Schools
  5. Special educational needs funding for settings

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The Top 5 most popular information pages during April 2020/March 2021, had 2 new additions:

  • the children’s mental health support pathway; and
  • the graduated response – special educational needs support in early years settings and school.

Top 5 most popular information pages for 2019/20 were:

  1. Requesting an Education Health and Care Needs Assessment
  2. Early Years Forums
  3. Education Health and Care Needs Assessment Criteria
  4. Special educational needs funding for schools
  5. Education Health and Care Needs Assesment - Process and Timescales

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Services for children and young people in Staffordshire

Top 5 most popular service pages 2020/2021:

  • Autism Outreach Team
  • SEND Assessment and Planning Service
  • Malachi Specialist Family Support Service
  • Family Hubs Staffordshire
  • Children and Young People's Autism Service in South Staffordshire - Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust

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New to the top 5 in 2020/2021 were the:

  • Autism Outreach Team
  • Family Hubs
  • Children and young people’s autism service in South Staffordshire

Top 5 most popular service pages 2019/2020

  • Malachi Specialist Family Support Service
  • SEND Assessment and Planning Service
  • Aiming High - Caudwell Children Activity Club
  • Aiming High - Action for Children Swim Options
  • BLAST - Burntwood and Lichfield Austim Support Together

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How did they access it?

Device used 2020/21:

  • mobile (48%)
  • desktop (48%)
  • tablet (5%)

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Achievements during the past 12 months

Browsaloud

Accessibility

Accessibility Bar

In response to feedback from parents, children and young people, the website now features a new accessibility toolbar which makes it even more accessible to users. The Browsealoud accessibility toolbar offers access to: 

  • text-to-speech
  • translation and read aloud
  • enlarges text and reads aloud
  • converts selected text into an audio file
  • blocks distractions on screen with a tinted mask/ruler
  • removes clutter from the screen, displaying only the main text.

Other Accessibility improvements

  • Shortcut to directories. A new “Services” button has been added to home pages as a shortcut to our service directories

    Image of shortcut button on website

  • Recommended links. A new recommended links feature helps find services and information using a keyword search.

  • Accessibility Audit and Action Report.  The site was tested for conformance with WCAG 2.1 Level AA Standard.  A report with recommendations has been produced with actions taken forward.

  • Accessibility StatementIn line with new legislation, an Accessibility Statement has been added to the website.  We will review this annually.

  • Accessibility – PDFs.  We have been busy adding website versions of recent PDF documents to make them more accessible for people who use readers.

SEND Local Offer Content

Pathways

A children’s mental health pathway has been developed and published on the SEND Local Offer. 

Information on finding a Job

A new jobs page has been developed following feedback from children and young people. 

Guide to the SEND Local Offer

A guide, including an Easy Read version, has been produced.

Covid-19 Information

During the past year, families and practitioners have had to respond to many challenges during the Coronavirus pandemic.   We have developed new sections on the SEND Local Offer to share resources, updates and materials that support children and young people’s emotional wellbeing. This includes: 

For parents, carers, children and young people

For practitioners

Promotion

We continue to promote the SEND Local Offer to parents and carers by awareness talks, email and using social media.

Work on a promotional video to introduce the SEND Local Offer has begun, with a storyboard being produced. Students at one of Staffordshire’s Colleges will be producing this.  Unfortunately, work on this was delayed due to the pandemic restrictions and lockdown periods, but this has now resumed. 

Putting SEND & Inclusion on the Agenda

An Activities Group reporting to the SEND Local Offer Sub-Group has been set up. 

This includes membership from parent carers, education, social care, health, local authority, Fire & Rescue, Police, SENDIASS, Enjoy Staffordshire, Together Active, SCVYS, Support Staffordshire, Place of Worship, Libraries, Staffs Connects, County Councillor. 

The aim of the group is to:

  • Scope and map what activities are available within Staffordshire and beyond.
  • Maximise existing activities/resources
  • Develop and promote Staffordshire Connects SEND Local Offer and the activities it contains to parents, carers, children, young people and practitioners.
  • Embed the SEND & Inclusion agenda within practice.
  • Help with social isolation and improve mental wellbeing

A SEND Activity Champion role has been developed. The role will involve acting as a two-way communication link between services/groups and the SEND Local Offer by:

  • Enthusing peers and providers with regard to accessing inclusive activity information for children and young people with SEND.
  • Cascading information within teams/service/groups
  • Enabling colleagues/groups to raise awareness of the information provided on Staffs Connects SEND Local Offer with parents, carers, children and young people.
  • Encouraging providers to promote, update & share quality SEND and inclusion information regarding activities and facilities on Staffs Connects.
  • Forwarding any feedback from parents, carers, children and young people with SEND as appropriate.

We currently have 46 named SEND Activity Champions. 

School SEN Information Report

Schools are required to have a SEN Information report which outlines the school’s policy for pupils with SEND.   We received feedback that the:

  • quality and consistency of SEND reports was variable
  • reports differed in the format and content
  • many reports were not user friendly

As a result, parents found it difficult to compare schools

A small sub group of the SEND Local Offer Group was set up to look at how we could:

  • Provide consistent SEN information reports across all Staffordshire schools
  • Make it easier to complete, read and for parents and young people to compare schools.
  • Provide quality information for those accessing the SEN information reports, which complies with the Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice 2015.
  • Provide the information in an accessible format, in line with accessibility regulations.

What we have have done so far

  • Looked at suitable templates with the aim to improve quality, consistency and comparability.  It was agreed to adopt the Cheshire East template, which was developed with parents and carers, adapted for Staffordshire. 
  • Looked into accessibility.  An online template for schools to complete is currently being developed.  This complies with the 2018 Accessibility Regulations.
  • Looked at interactivity.  The SEN information report will be an interactive link.  This will be available on the school directory.  It will allow children, young people, parents and carers to easily search for local schools and compare their SEN information reports.  A link will also be added to school’s own websites.

Service feedback

We are always pleased to receive feedback from parents, carers, children and young people. The feedback received and the action we have taken is published on our You said, we did page.   Some examples include: 

  • You said:  Easy read information about the Local Offer would be useful.   We did:  ASSIST has produced an Easy Read leaflet.
  • You said: Would prefer referral contact details to be added directly to social care and safeguarding records, rather than a hyperlink to the main SCC website. We did: contact details were added directly to the listing.
  • You said: it would be great if there was a link to the SEND Local Offer on autism diagnostic reports in South Staffs.  We did: A link will be provided by Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust.

Annual Consultation Survey

Your Feedback Matters

Our latest survey was undertaken in the autumn term 2020.  A full copy can be found here.    

What we will do as a result of the feedback received.

Accessibility

  • Continue to improve accessibility/navigation with mystery shoppers, parents, carers and young people.

  • Set up a page on the Local Offer explaining what it is and how to use it.  Offer training webinars for professionals and parents.

  • Look into producing more video clips accessible to all.

Promotion

Continue to promote to parents, young people, settings/practitioners via awareness talks, email and social media.

Service feedback

  • Send feedback on individual services to organisational leads and relevant working groups.

  • Analyse and contact commissioned/public services listings regarding pathways to ensure contact details are readily accessible with latest referral forms included.

What we did following the 2019 survey

2019-2020 Action Plan

  • Fed back individual comments regarding provision or entries to individual commissioners/providers. We did:  all comments were fed back to individual commissioners/providers to inform the development of their local offer. 

  • Continue to contact registered providers on a three-monthly basis to review information held and ensure it is kept up to date and accurate. We did:  three monthly reminders are automatically sent to providers as a reminder to keep their information updated.  This appears to be working well, with a substantial increase in edited listings around the time the email is sent.

  • Continue to promote to parents, carers, children, young people and practitioners via established newsletters, emails, social media and at meetings as appropriate.  Provide training sessions on how to use the SEND Local Offer to parents, young people and practitioners via YouTube video and group sessions.  We did: we continue to promote the local offer via established newsletters/email. A SEND Local Offer Facebook page was set up in April 2019, following feedback received from parents.  As of June 2021, this now has over 600 likes and over 850 followers.  31 awareness/training sessions were provided to parent groups and practitioners who support them during 2019. This is continuing into 2020 and 2021.  Please email localoffer@staffordshire.gov.uk if you would like to book a session.   We are working with a local college to develop a promotional video explaining the SEND Local Offer and how to access it. 

  • Develop a mystery shopper scheme to further develop, test and review the SEND Local Offer.  We did:  A mystery shopper scheme was developed during a workshop session which included parents, carers, young people and practitioners.  Feedback of actions is available on our “You said, we did” page.

  • Work with user testers, mystery shoppers, authors and county commissioners to identify gaps in registered providers and look at accessibility of content.  Work with providers and partners to encourage registering and updating of information.  We did: this work is ongoing with feedback available on our You said, we did pages.  An Activities Task and Finish Group has been set up which includes looking at encouraging providers to register and update information on the activities they run which are accessible by children and young people with SEND.

  • Arrange a SEND Local Offer Advisory Group to oversee the Local Offer and plan focused workshops and engagement mechanisms around the county. We did:  A SEND Local Offer Sub Group has been set up and an action plan developed.  More information on the work of the group can be found here.

  • Explore forms library.  We did: a: a forms and templates library has now been developed with our policy library.

Mystery Shoppers

A mystery shoppers scheme has been developed.  We currently have 8 active mystery shoppers.

How can mystery shoppers help?

Mystery Shoppers can:

  • look at the Local Offer with a fresh pair of eyes.
  • provide insight into keyword searches that may be used by others.
  • Test the accessibility of the website.
  • Make us aware of any information that is hard to understand or difficult to find
  • Tell us if you feel there is anything missing.
  • Share what you like about the website so we keep doing it.
  • Test on a range of devices.

What will happen to the feedback?

Feedback from mystery shoppers will:

  • Be used to develop the SEND Local Offer website and continue to improve accessibility.
  • Look at any information gaps.

Any service gaps will be forwarded onto commissioners.

Actions are published on our “You said, we did” page on the SEND Local Offer

Partnership Working

A regional SEND Local Offer Group has been set up by Staffordshire. Membership includes SEND Local Offer representatives from areas across the West Midlands region. The group enables all local authorities within the region to share best practice, experiences, and explore joint working. 

Impact of the SEND Local Offer

Quotes from parents:

“I wish I knew about this before, it would have really helped us”. 

“If we (parents) know about it (the website) we can access lots of information, and help available, be more informed and help us get the support our child/family needs”.

“Information on activities and support groups is really useful”. 

Quotes from young people:

“It tells you some good information”,

“The best thing is the activity list because it gives you the time and what it is.”

“I like how it can help us live independently.”

Quote from practitioner:

"The Local Offer was my WOW moment in the Early Years SENCO training, it is now my new favourite place" quote from Level 3 Early Years SENCO Award trainee

Impact from information provided by website analytics:

  • More people are visiting the SEND Local Offer to find information, support and services.  During the last 12 months there has been a percentage increase of 21%. 
  • There has been an increased number of people accessing information on the graduated response, mental health and wellbeing, autism services and family hubs during 2020/2021.

  • Increase in the number of people accessing information on the SEND Local Offer Facebook page.  The SEND Local Offer Facebook page developed in 2019 had 565 likes and 727 followers at the end of March 2021.

Next steps

Activities – putting SEND & Inclusion on the agenda

This sub-group will continue focusing on:

  • scoping inclusive activities within Staffordshire and beyond
  • maximising existing activities/resources
  • embedding the SEND & Inclusion agenda within practice
  • training for SEND Local Offer Activity Champions
  • developing communication channels
  • sharing best practice
  • developing and promoting Staffordshire’s SEND Local Offer, and
  • helping with social isolation and improving mental wellbeing

Videos

We will continue work to produce videos as we know parents have told us this is a method of communication they prefer.

We are exploring the development of a video with our SEND Local Offer colleagues from across the West Midlands region.  

SEN information report template

We will continue to develop an interactive form that can be completed by individual schools. This will be linked to the school website and the SEND Local Offer.

Preparing for adulthood pathway

A preparing for adulthood pathway will be published on the SEND Local Offer for parents and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.  This pathway is a joint approach by adults, children social care and the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Assessment and Planning Team.  Preparing for adulthood can help:

  • plan support and give advice to help you prepare for adult life.
  • if you are likely to have social care and support needs as an adult.
  • detail moving from children to adult care and support.

 

Involving Children and Young People and Parents and Carers

There are a range of ways Children and Young People and Parents and Carers can be involved in the SEND Local Offer.