During the last 12 months, we have continued to reflect on the things that we are doing well and act to improve in the areas where we need to do better.
Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) Norfolk Area Special Educational Needs and/or Disability (SEND) Inspection
In March, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out a joint area inspection which considered the county’s effectiveness in implementing the 2014 SEND reforms.
Their inspection report determined that Norfolk should prepare a Written Statement of Action to address areas in need of improvement.
Read the inspection report
SEND Written Statement of Action
Norfolk County Council (NCC) and Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have produced a Written Statement of Action (WSoA) setting out the steps that will be taken to improve support for children with SEND in Norfolk.
The WSoA has been produced jointly with the four parent carer groups in the county, stakeholders and professionals. It focuses on three areas of weakness:
- The timeliness of Education, Health and Care Plans
- Transition to adult life
- Communication and co-production with families
Ofsted has confirmed the WSoA will tackle the significant areas of weakness identified in the published report letter. They recognised that the WSoA has been co-produced with stakeholders, and that leaders have worked collectively and creatively to achieve this, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read the SEND Written Statement of Action (WSoA)
Norfolk Area SEND Strategy
Our Norfolk Area SEND Strategy was published in January 2020. It was co-produced between NCC's Children's and Adult Services, Norfolk CCGs, parent carer groups and education professionals from early years settings, schools and colleges.
It recognises our achievements whilst being honest about the challenges that need to be addressed across the county, setting out plans under these four priorities:
- The SEND journey: Making it easier for children and young people with SEND to have their needs identified and assessed with the right support put in place.
- SEND provision: Co-producing jointly commissioned, integrated, SEND services and provision and ensuring sufficiency of specialist placements.
- The local offer: Improving confidence in the local offer by ensuring it is communicated effectively and kept under review. The local offer will be responsive to the needs and aspirations of children and young people, their families and professionals who support them.
- Preparation for adult life: Ensuring seamless transitions for young people and their families into further and higher education and employment, including support for housing, health and social inclusion.
Information about the Norfolk Area SEND Strategy
Following the Ofsted and CQC Area SEND Inspection and the publication of the Written Statement of Action, work has now begun to refresh the Norfolk Area SEND Strategy.
SEND and Alternative Provision (AP) Transformation Programme
During 2020, our progress to create 500 extra specialist school places across the county has continued despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sponsors for our three new special schools which will be in Easton, Fakenham and Great Yarmouth have been announced.
Construction is underway for the new special school for social, emotional and mental health needs in Great Yarmouth.
We have announced where some of the new Specialist Resource Bases (SRBs) will be located.
Read more about the SEND and AP Transformation Programme
Virtual School for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (VS SEND)
Through talking to key stakeholders, we know that:
- experiences of transitions in Norfolk vary
- the needs of children are not identified early or accurately enough
- it is not clear what schools are expected to provide for children and young people at SEN Support
- there is a belief that mainstream schools only get extra funding for children and young people with an EHCP
Over the last 12 months, the VS SEND has tackled these issues by:
- setting up a working group to co-produce best practice guides to transitions, including resources to support transition. Asking to be represented on other transition working groups within Norfolk
- co-developed Individual Needs Descriptors to help settings identify the needs of their cohort with SEND accurately, using a shared language
- further developed the Provision Expected at SEN Support (PEaSS) document and suite of posters to support settings understand how to meet the needs of all their learners
- helping settings to understand how to apply for funding for children and young people with SEND (without the need for an EHCP) by making an instructional video, delivering workshops and regular communications.
Speech and Language Therapy
Through feedback and discussions with parent carers, we learned that:
- children with SLCN wait too long before they start treatment
- parent carers expect more intensive speech and language therapy for their children
- parent carers did not feel listened to and/or their concerns were not being heard
- the language that the provider used was not helpful
- the referral process and drop-in sessions were complicated
- parent carers did not always understand the short- and long-term goals and outcomes and how they could support their child to reach them
- parent carers did not understand why a service was not offered for their child
- parent carers felt it took too long to re-assess their child after they had been discharged
- pathways for the neuro-developmental and speech and language pathways are complicated
- commissioners did not seem to understand the concerns of parents represented at meetings
As a direct result of this feedback from parent carer groups:
- three waiting lists have been combined into one to ensure those with an identified need will be seen quicker. This will result in a longer, temporary delay for new referrals to be assessed but will ensure that children with an assessed need, will be seen sooner
- resources and support for educational settings has been reviewed to provide universal and targeted support for children with a speech, language and communication need
- commissioners have worked hard to understand patient experiences by talking with SENsational Families, Family Voice, SENDIASS, ASD Helping Hands and Autism Anglia; conducting a survey of patient experience; tracked patient journeys to identify gaps in provision across the neuro developmental service and speech and language therapy service
- commissioners have worked with providers to improve provision, regularly following up on progress
- terminology has been changed. The word ‘discharge’ has been replaced with ‘transfer of care’
- East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH) has simplified their referral process and are working with Action 4 Children, the new early childhood and family service to improve identification and prevention to families of children under five. Drop-ins will continue to be reviewed to ensure they make best use of the wider workforce who support children under five
- Communication to parents have been improved to make it clear what the short- and long-term goals and outcomes are, who will undertake the work, what the input looks like and next steps. Information is also included about link therapists and who to raise concerns with.
- Education partners have engaged in discussion and recognised the importance of their role in helping children with a speech, communication and language need to achieve outcomes
- the content of letters to parents following a referral (ECCH) has been changed to explain what happens next
- work is in progress to ensure pathway descriptions are shared
- there has been more engagement with parent carers who have been listened and responded to over the last six months. This is developing and strengthening the relationship and helping commissioners to better understand the problem
Neuro Development Disorder (NDD) pathways
Through feedback and consultation with parent carers, we learned that:
- we need to improve team working and co-production
- waiting times for assessments take too long
- there is insufficient support for families while they are waiting on the pathways
- there is confusion about what is required for referrals to NDS teams
As a direct result of this feedback:
- we have set up a new NDD stakeholder group for Norfolk and Waveney
- we have started a system wide NDD programme to address lengthy waits and improve access to pathways
- we commissioned a system wide pre-diagnostic service in April 2020
- we made changes to GP information systems to make the referral process easier and simpler in the east of the county
In summary, 2020 has been busy, but over the next 18 months there will be even more activity to bring about the monumental improvement we want for children and young people with SEND, and their families in Norfolk.
SEND Local Offer reviews from 2014-19 are available on request, email firstname.lastname@example.org