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New officers to help respond to views of children with special educational needs and disabilities

Norfolk County Council, 23 November 2023 00:00

More children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) will be able to help shape and influence services, as part of Norfolk County Council's commitment to further improve support for children with SEND. 

The council has just recruited two new specialist participation officers, who will work directly with children and young people with SEND, as well as train other professionals to engage with children with a diverse range of needs. 

It comes as the council publishes the results of its latest annual SEND survey, which saw a significant increase in responses from children and young people. 

381 children and young people responded this year, up from 62 in 2022. Most (71%) said they were allowed to make choices about the support they get with learning. 

However, children with SEND said they did not always feel included, and this was most often linked to feeling understood, kindness, accessibility and having things to do in their local area.   

The council has already committed investment of £120m in extra specialist school places, including new special schools and specialist resource bases, with more places planned in the coming years.  Additionally, it is working with the DfE on a further £100m programme (Local First Inclusion) to increase provision and provide more support in mainstream schools, whilst aiming to bring Norfolk's high needs special educational needs spending back to balance.

Cllr Penny Carpenter, Cabinet Member for Children's Services at Norfolk County Council, said: "We want children with special educational needs and disabilities to flourish and that means giving them the same opportunities as their peers and ensuring they feel valued and included. 

"Inclusion is a key element of our special educational needs transformation programme and we want children to be able to learn alongside their peers, in their communities wherever possible. We're also working to increase the range of short breaks open to children with disabilities, so they can access more opportunities locally. To get all of this right, it's important that we involve young people themselves and listen to what they are telling us, which is why we've recruited these additional specialist participation officers. We want to know our young people and be responsive to what they say." 

The SEND survey also captured the views of parent/carers and those working with children and young people. 

Education and learning were listed as the most important thing that parents/carers wanted to see developed or improved for their child in the next 12 months. 

Many parents said they found it hard to get the right support for their children and young people. 

Cllr Carpenter added: "I sympathise with parents and carers who might be finding it difficult to get the information or support they need for their children. Things are improving but demand continues to rise and it is putting pressure on our teams, the NHS and schools and early years services. Our new school and community teams are now in place, helping schools and nurseries to put in place the right support for children with SEND earlier. The feedback from the latest survey will help to inform how we develop services further over the next year." 

View the Norfolk SEND survey results and reports.

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:46

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