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SEND Improvement Programme

Sian Rees, Strategic Lead

Welcome to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Improvement Programme web page. On the following 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 [PDF 1,215KB]. 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.

The Improvement Programme was set up in April 2019 and is structured around 6 working groups, each focusing on improving a different aspect of the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) system. The working groups report to the Improvement Board, which meets every 6 weeks and has an Independent Chair overseeing the work and driving change.

We are committed to improving services for children and young people with SEND in Cumbria and we know that to do that we need to work hand-in-hand with parents and carers. We have parent and carer representatives on all our working groups and on our Improvement Board. We are embedding a co-production approach. This means that we are making sure parents, carers, children and young people are included and consulted in all the work where decisions about services happen.

Any parent or carer of a child or young person with SEND is very welcome to get involved in the programme. There is a reference group of parents and carers, who help us to hold the working groups and the whole system to account, and there is an open invitation for all SEND parents and carers to join.

An inspection re-visit is usually expected to take place within 18 months of the Written Statement of Action being approved as set out in the inspection framework. For Cumbria this was on 18 October 2019 and so the re-visit should take place before 18 April 2021. However, even before the pandemic the programme of re-inspections was running several months behind and since March last year inspections across a range of services have been suspended which is likely to cause further delay.

The re-visit, when it happens, will assess if ‘sufficient progress’ has been made in each of the nine areas of significant weakness identified at the inspection; for those areas where sufficient progress has been made there will be no further monitoring by the DfE/NHS. If there are any areas where progress is not felt to be sufficient an Accelerated Progress Plan will be required which will continue to be monitored.  Regardless of the re-inspection outcome, improvement is an ongoing process and the SEND partners in Cumbria are committed to maintaining a programme of continuous improvement for the long term, recognising that to establish, embed and sustain the improvement required will take a number of years.

You can read more about the Improvement Programme in the sections below, and we welcome your feedback on all aspects of the SEND Improvement Programme. 

Sian Rees - Strategic Lead
SEND Improvement Programme


We anticipate publishing an updated eNewsletter about once every 6 weeks, with additional updates and alerts when relevant.

Send any feedback or questions to: localoffer@cumbria.gov.uk

What is the Cumbria SEND Improvement Programme?

Agencies in Cumbria are working together to improve the quality and accessibility of services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). 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.

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 and the CQC was for the 3 lead agencies to produce a document called a Written Statement of Action [PDF 1.215KB] (WSoA). The WSoA is a plan which sets out how we will respond to the specific recommendations made in the inspection report.

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 Cumbria County Council (CCC) and the NHS as well as parent and carer representatives. 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 6 working groups. These are:

  • Understanding of local need
  • Commissioning and access to provision
  • Engagement and co-production
  • Preparation for adulthood
  • Emotional health and wellbeing
  • Special Education Needs (SEN) support

All working groups include representatives from relevant agencies, including CCC and the NHS. There are also parent and carer representatives on these groups (more about this groups in the related advice section below). The working groups meet regularly. All the actions that the working groups have agreed so far can be found in the Written Statement of Action [PDF 1,215KB] (Easy Read WSoA [PDF 3.7MB])

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 fundamental to ensuring that this happens across the system.

Any parent or carer of a child or young person with SEND is very welcome to get involved in the Programme. There is a reference group of parent carers, who help us to hold the working groups and the whole system to account. Any parent carer of a child or young person with SEND is very welcome to get involved in the programme, and the best way to do this is to join the reference group.

Cumbria does not currently have a Parent Carer Forum, as the previous one was wound up in 2019. The reference group is actively working with individual parent carers, children and young people, and various SEND support groups around the County, alongside the national charity Contact, to establish a new Parent Carer Forum for Cumbria. It’s hoped that this new Forum, once established, will become a strong and effective voice for families and will be a major partner with the Local Authority and the NHS in creating positive change for children and young people with SEND across the County.

All of Us is a children and young people’s forum where young people can share their views and experiences, and contribute to the SEND Improvement Programme. Any child or young person with SEND is very welcome to get involved in the All of Us groups.

Responsible officers and working group representatives

SEND Improvement Board

  Membership Category   Representatives
  Independent Chair   Linda Clegg
  Accountable Officer   Director of Children's Services - John Readman
  Chief Operating Officer North Cumbria - Peter Rooney
  Chief Operating Officer South Cumbria - Hilary Fordham
  Responsible Officers   Director of Education - Dan Barton
  Commissioning Lead Cumbria County Council - Sharon Simpson  
  Commissioning Lead North Cumbria - Greg Everatt
  Commissioning Lead South Cumbria - Julia Westaway
  Parents/Carers   SEND Alliance Cumbria
  Jilly Russell
  Sabrina Smith
  Zoe Lishman
  Health and Wellbeing Board    County Council Cabinet Lead for SEND - Cllr Sue Sanderson 
  Education Providers   Early Years Sector Lead - tbc
  Primary Heads Association - Sarah Powell/Mike Pincombe
  Secondary Heads Association - Sarah Campbell
  Special School Sector Lead - Kris Williams
  Further Education Sector Lead - tbc  
  Health Providers 

  NCIC representative - North and South Cumbria - 
  Lyn Durrant
  CNTW representative - North Cumbria - David Storm, Associate
  Director
  General Practive representative - North Cumbria - 
  Amanda Boardman
  LSCFT representative - South Cumbria - Tracy
  Cookscowen
  UHMBT representative - Nicola Askew

  Strategic Lead, SEND
  Improvement Programme
  Sian Rees

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, Cumbria County Council (CCC)   

  Rebecca Mullins (SENDAC)
  Zoe Lishman

 Group 2
 Commissioning and Access
 to Provision   

 Sharon Simpson, Senior Manager, Children's
 Commissioning, CCC 

  Carole Woodman
  George Bell
  Amy Hamson
 Group 3
 Engagement and Co-production
 Charlotte Wight, (Lay Chair)   Amy Wheatley
 Group 4
 Preparation for Adulthood
 Dan Barton, Assistant Director, Education
 and Skills, CCC   

  Louise Coombs
  Karen Quinn
  Mark Quinn

 Group 5
 Emotional Health and
 Wellbeing   
 Greg Everatt, Commissioning Lead, North Cumbria   Karen Barnes
  Juliet Buchanan
 Group 6
 Special Educational Need (SEN) Support
 Sally Senejko, County Wide SEND Service Manager, CCC

  Katherine Patterson
  Jilly Russell

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