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SEND Improvement Programme

"Welcome to the SEND Improvement Programme web pages. On these pages you’ll find more information about the programme, how it’s being managed and what it’s doing.

“The key document is our Written Statement of Action (Easy Read Written SEND Statement of Action). This sets out what we’re doing to respond to the recommendations following our inspection by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission in March 2019. It’s an 18 month plan and we are in the early stages of delivery.

“We are committed to improving services for children and young adults with SEND in Cumbria and we know that to do that we need to work hand-in-hand with parents and carers. We now have parent/carer representatives on all our Working Groups and on our Improvement Board. We are also developing an engagement plan to ensure we hear from as many parents/carers and children/young adults as possible about their experiences of SEND services.

“One of the real challenges that's emerging as we try to develop our working with parents and carers is the speed with which people want things to change (which is justified) and the speed at which big bureaucracies like the council and NHS can change. So I can fully understand if parents/carers might be frustrated because things don’t feel different 'on the ground' just yet. But the programme is really picking up momentum now and I'm confident that you will start to see improvements in how we do things coming through soon. Please bear with us, we know there's a lot to do, but unfortunately we can't fix it all at the same time."

Dan Barton, Assistant Director - Education and Skills at Cumbria County Council and Lead officer for the Cumbria SEND Improvement Programme

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What is the Cumbria SEND Improvement Programme?

Agencies in Cumbria have been working together to improve the quality and accessibility of services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) and in March 2019 Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out an inspection of these services. The inspection identified a range of areas where improvements were needed.

You can read their full report here  and the easy ready here which was published on 22 May.

Many of the findings and recommendations had already been identified by our teams and we know there is much to do to make improvements for young people in Cumbria.

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.

You can read the approved Written Statement of Action here

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.

How is the SEND Programme being managed?

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 (Easy Read Written SEND Statement of Action).

How we are involving parents, carers, children and young people

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 are also 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.

Those parents were selected following an initial meeting with these parent/carers took place in 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 (see names in table below). The process has ensured a mix of parents/carers from different parts of the county and with children with a wide range of needs.

In addition it was agreed that all parent/carers who had expressed an interest would form a Reference Group for the SEND Improvement Programme. The Reference Group would allow parent/carers to share their experiences of the programme and provide a sounding board for its work. It was also agreed that two additional representatives would be nominated to attend the SEND Improvement Board, alongside the Chair of the CPCF. 

Working Groups and the Reference Group 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 are 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.

Responsible officers and working group representatives

SEND Improvement Board - Chair; Senior Responsible Officers and Board Parent/Carer Representatives

  Name   Title
  Linda Clegg   Independent Chair, Cumbria SEND Improvement Board
  Dan Barton   Assistant Director - Education and Skills, Cumbria County Council
  Cristina Bowman   Chair of the Cumbria Parent Carer Forum
  Anna Stabler   Director of Nursing Quality, Clincial Commissioning Group
  Greg Everatt   Senior Commissioning Manager, NHS   North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group 
  Hilary Fordham      Chief Operating Officer, NHS Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group   
  Cllr Sue Sanderson      Cabinet Member - Schools and Learning
  Cllr Anne Burns   Cabinet Member - Children's Services
  Juliet Buchanan   SEND Improvement Board Representative
  Rebecca Mullins   SEND Improvement Board Representative

Working Group -  Chairs and parent/carer representatives

  Working Group   Chair   Parent/Carer Representatives
 Group 1
 Understanding of Local Need
Fiona Musgrave, Assistance Director, Partnerships and
Integration, CCC   
  Rebecca Mullins

 Group 2
 Commissioning and Access
 to Provision   

Sharon Simpson, Senior Manager, Children's Commissioning,

  Carole Woodman
  Hayley Stewart
  Emma Crabtree
  George Bell
 Group 3
 Engagement and Co-Production
 David Blacklock, Chief Executive, People First   Charlotte Wight
 Group 4
 Preparation for Adulthood
 Dan Barton, Assistant Director, Education
 and Skills, CCC   

  Louise Coombs
  Karen Quinn
  Danielle Gaskin
  Shirley Murphy

 Group 5
 Emotional Health and
 Colin Cox, Director Public Health, CCC   Christina Bowman
  Juliet Buchanan
 Group 6
 SEN Support
 Mary Mulligan, Senior Manager Inclusion, CCC   Hayley Tancred
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