Our Voices Are Better Together
30th July – Statement from Jo Gowin the Interim SEND Lead at Swindon Borough Council
“In 2018 following the SEND Local Area inspection, Swindon were required to produce a Written Statement of Action outlining the improvements that needed to be made against the 8 priority areas in SEND. We would like to share with you the progress that has been made so far. Whilst we still have a way to go, we hope that sharing with you some of the impacts seen so far will provide assurance of the work that is happening in co-production with key partners including Swindon SEND Families Voice to make positive changes for our children and young people with SEND.” WSOA Progress July 2020
16th July – We have received lots of feedback where you have expressed your concern over the affect of the Coronavirus on the waiting times for the ASD/ADHD diagnosis. We shared these concerns and asked the CCG (who manage the process) if they could update us on the numbers waiting, and what they are doing to combat the additional delays Covid-19 has had on the list. For their response, including the latest figures please look below or for the pdf version click here: NDC Waiting List Update June 2020
17th June – It was sadly announced today that Hop, Skip and Jump respite care is closing permanently. See attached letter from Swindon Borough Council: HSJ Letter June 2020
13th June – New online application for SEND School Transport
Do you have a child starting a new specialist provision in September? Swindon Borough Council have sent out letters, via email and post, about a new online application process for applying for SEND School Transport. If you think this may apply to you but haven’t received yours, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is the letter for your information: New SEN Transport Application information letter.docx
29th May Please click on this link to read this week’s communication from Swindon Borough Council, including an interesting article about how the Autism Support Team have been supporting families remotely: 29.05.20 SEND News Splash – Issue Thirty Two
12th May – Following on from a conversation we have had with Swindon Borough Council they have confirmed that no-one will be fined if they choose not to send their children to school once they have reopened due to feeling they will not be safe from the coronavirus.
Latest guidance about schools reopening – Click here
4th May – Updated Guidance from the Government
21st April – Families that have children with Autism
We have been in contact with Jenny Muirhead who is the Lead for the Swindon Autism Team. If you have a child/young person with autism and are finding this strange and challenging time extremely tough, and you think you would benefit from some over the telephone support from the Swindon Autism Team, please could you get in touch with us by email at email@example.com.
Jenny has told us that “As a service both the advisory team and ARC have been pretty active with their current high needs/EHCP caseload and we know some schools are going the extra mile to support where they can or signpost to the Swindon Autism Team where they have concerns. Please could I also encourage parents to be in touch with their school staff/SENCo’s as we are still getting referrals in and responding to these/following up with contacts to parents through that route too.”
15th April –There has been an amendment in the rules about exercising for once a day if you have a condition that requires more. Please see the article in The Guardian newspaper yesterday and the official wording below for a full explanation: Click Here
9th April – Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust update
We know this can be a particularly anxious and difficult time, particularly if you or someone you care about struggles with mental health difficulties.
In order to alleviate pressure on primary care and accident and emergency departments, our staff will be available 24/7 to provide advice, guidance and support over the phone to our patients, families and carers, as well as members of the public who may be worried about their own or someone else’s mental health.
The telephone line – 0300 3031320 – provides round-the-clock support for adults and children, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
If you or your loved one feels unsafe, at risk or unable to cope without professional advice, our dedicated staff, with a wealth of skills and experience, will respond to your enquiries and arrange for trained mental health advisors and clinicians to help enable you to manage your difficulties.
The Mental Health 24/7 Response Line works closely with our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) to provide support and signpost people to other services for anyone in the general population seeking mental health support.
7th April – At the moment we are told to stay at home, but children are still having accidents and becoming ill unrelated to the Coronavirus. So do you know when to call 999 or go to the hospital? Please see the following guide:
Please see information below about separate clinics for those with and without Coronavirus symptoms.
3rd April – Family Support Pack full of useful information from Swindon Borough Council to help support you through this difficult time. Full of practical advice and help: Family Support Pack
2nd April – Educational Psychologists answer your questions to support you during these difficult times: How much sharing of information is too much? How do we stop doing long term damage to a child’s mental health? What should we do when he/she hears things from friends which may be unhelpful? How do you help encourage children and young people to do school work at home when they are resistant to it?
For practical useful advice and support click here: Educational Psychologist Support and Advice for Coronavirus.
31st March – Latest guidance from the government about supporting children and young peoples mental health, and also and easy read guide to looking after your feelings and body Click Here.
26th March – Latest updates from Swindon Borough Council Click Here.
The latest information and guidance from the government about children and young people Click Here.
24th March – Please see below an important letter from the Department for Education. We would like to draw your attention to the following excerpt from the letter for your information if any of your children have an EHCP:
“Our overwhelming aim for SEND, through the Bill and the proposed changes to regulations that are to follow, is to balance the needs of this vulnerable group to receive the support they need with managing the demands on local authorities and health bodies to respond to this outbreak. As a result, we have included in the Bill temporary emergency powers to enable us, where necessary, to modify the legal requirements on local authorities in fulfilling their duties in relation to EHC plans. In practice, this will mean that where a local authority is, because of the outbreak, unable, for example, to put in place stated provision, they will need to use their reasonable endeavours to do this, but won’t be penalised for failing to meet the existing duty as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014. These emergency powers will only be exercised for the shortest period and where necessary, and will be regularly reviewed. We will also be seeking to amend regulations on the timescales for EHC plan processes where this is appropriate because of COVID19. I want to reiterate that these decisions are not taken lightly but I believe strike the right balance in these difficult times.”
24th March – Easy Read version of the latest Government guidance.
23rd March – Update from Swindon Borough Council including new procedure for contacting the SEND Service Team (formerly SENAT):
In accordance with advice to work from home wherever possible, the SEND Service is now working remotely with some limited capacity. if you would like to to email the SEND Service, you can contact us at SENAT@swindon.gov.uk
Is open and working as usual and we continue to work towards responses within 48-72 hours. Due to the telephony support being focused elsewhere today, we have not been able to put the service main mobile telephone numbers on to the service voicemail, so please do share the following telephone mobile numbers across your networks. These numbers are the best way to contact us for urgent enquiries 07824 868353 or 07971 715864.
Please ensure all documents are sent electronically, if this will pose a problem, please let us know.
Updated regularly: Please find a link below that takes you to the Local Offer website which will be regularly updated by Swindon Borough Council with information and FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).
You told us you are still finding it difficult to get through to people within the SENAT Team. The phoneline opening hours just weren’t enough. We have continued to work with Swindon Borough Council about the amount of feedback we received from so many of you and we are pleased to confirm that with immediate effect the phone will be open all day every day with one number for the whole team. Please let us know how you find this, does it help you and if you notice any technical problems do let us know.
The link to the survey is here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/NYSF5RH
For reference the SBC SEND Transport policy is here: https://www.swindon.gov.uk/info/20070/special_educational_needs/419/apply_for_special_educational_needs_transport
Following the parents and carers focus group on the new Core Standards that took place yesterday, we invite all parents and carers of children and young people with SEND to review and feedback on the new core standards – a new way of helping support in our school be more consistent, and will be used from September to document the needs and evidence the needs of our children. It can also be used by those that home educate. Attached is a poster to visually explain the new process.
To review them follow this link: Core Standards
Please provide us with your feedback, via email. Email us using the link SSFV while the consultation period is open until the end of June, so we can pass your views to Swindon Borough Council. Thank you.
We recently asked you to complete a survey about mental health support in schools. Please find attached the results of the survey. They will be shared with everyone associated with the new scheme to help shape what the new Mental Health Support Teams look like in our schools. Consultation report 2019
Swindon Borough Council.
Many of you will have been contacted recently about our local area SEND Ofsted/CQC inspection. Thank you for those of you who took the time and opportunity to contribute to the inspection process.
The inspectors recognised many strengths in SEND provision in Swindon and also identified areas for improvement including eight specific areas.
Click for full Ofsted report: https://files.api.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/50050233
With your support, we have already been very busy working on how we can make things better for children, young people and their families.
What have we done already:
. We have increased the capacity of the SEN team to make sure that assessments and reviews of children and young people with EHCPs are done on time.
. We are working much closer with our partners, including Swindon SEND Families Voice as the parent carer forum, so that we can focus on parents perspective.
. We have already delivered and continue to deliver a training programme for all staff in education, health and social care, to continuously raise awareness amongst all professionals about the principles of the SEND reforms and what is expected of them.
. We are delivering support sessions for parents and carers so that they feel better informed.
. We are working closely with a number of our schools, early years settings and colleges to develop a core offer for SEN across all educational settings in Swindon. This will greatly improve consistency of support available to all children and young people with SEN.
. We have strengthened our Governance arrangements and implemented a new Performance Management and Quality Assurance process.
These are just a few examples of actions already taken to make sure that we can do better for children and young people with SEND in Swindon. We want all of our children to be included, achieve well and be happy in their local communities.
We have received confirmation from Ofsted that our plan of action has been approved without amendment. This is great news because it means that together with all of our partners we can now focus on what we promised and achieve outcomes we set out in our plan here:
How are we going to know that we are making progress?
The SEND Board is a multi agency forum which meets every month and parent carer representatives are members of that board. All members receive monthly updates on progress and will be made aware of anything that is not going according to plan. The SEND Board has a responsibility to oversee the implementation of our plan to improve.
Where can you find our more information?
We already have a Local Offer for SEND published on the Councils website. We have recognised that we can improve our Local offer and the information can be presented in a better way. This October we are planning to relaunch our Local offer. In the meantime we continue to include information about SEND in Swindon on the current website.
Swindon SEND Families Voice are the parent carer forum for Swindon. They are the strategic partners to the Local Authority and Clinical Commissioning Group and I welcome the challenge and support that they provide the Local Authority to deliver improvement across the whole system for children and their families.
Thank you for your support.
David Haley. Corporate Director – Children Services (DCS) Swindon Borough Council.
We have co-produced this Transport Frequently Asked Questions with parents/carers in Swindon and Swindon Borough Council. We hope that those accessing SEND transport will find the document useful. It is published on the Local Offer website (click here to view). We would like to thank everyone that had input into putting the document together.
Click here please to share your views on the relationship you have with your Senco. Survey is open for one week and the anonymous answers will be used as part of a presentation.
We are delighted to announce a new partnership between Swindon SEND Families Voice and Hop, Skip & Jump. A monthly support group for all parents and carers in Swindon of children and young people with any special educational needs or disabilities, including those that are on the pathway to diagnosis. Please come along, we look forward to meeting you!
Please complete this quick survey whether you consider your child/young person aged up to 25 to have mental health concerns or not. Most questions are still relevant. Please complete a separate survey for each child you have.
Swindon has recently been granted £2.3m to deliver Mental Health Support Teams to a proportion of schools within the Borough (approx 50%). Swindon SEND Families Voice are pleased to sit on the steering group that is delivering these teams. To enable us to share your views we have created this survey. We want to consult parents and carers on their views on Social, Emotional and Mental Health support currently provided in schools. The closing date for this survey is 12th April. Thank you for your help.
Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission carried out a joint inspection of SEND services in November based on the last 4 years of performance. There are 2 possible outcomes, either a letter that shows the services are adequate, or a Written Statement of Action where there are significant areas of weakness in the local area’s practice. Swindon has received a Written Statement Of Action.
As a parent carer forum for Swindon, we have been working with Swindon Borough Council and Clinical Commissioning Group (Heath services) since March of this year so can only comment on what we have seen over those 10 months. The issues highlighted in the report are known to us (and to many of you) and didn’t bring up many surprises. They are key areas that we are in the process of working with those that make the decisions to improve. Ofsted have highlighted that there are the beginnings of many improvements such as the introduction of ELSA’s in all schools (see below for details) the High Needs Core Standards documents that are in the process of being written and the Redesigning of the ASD Pathway. We are also pleased to see that they recognise Swindon SEND Families Voice in a positive light. However, we also witness the financial difficulties the authorities face which is unfortunately a nationwide issue, but has led to high demands on some frontline employees which leads to mistakes and an inadequate service at times.
We will continue to do as we have been doing, working in co-production with authorities, challenge where we feel the need to, get as much feedback from you all, and keep growing as a forum trying to reach as many Swindon parents and carers as we can. The next few months will be exceptionally busy as we unpick the report and ensure all highlighted issues are addressed, and we would value more than ever any support you are willing to give us. Please keep a close eye out for our updates and see what you can do to help us improve things for all of our children. We truly believe it is through working together, collaboratively with everyone, that we can makes positive change happen.
Click here for the full inspection report.
Have you heard of Capital Bids?
Swindon has been given approx £325,000 over 3 years (£977,000 in total) from the Department for Education that must be put towards projects that develop SEND provision. These are called Capital Bids. The Council want to use this money to invest in as many projects as possible so that a greater proportion of children with SEND will benefit from this fund. Phase 1 earlier this year saw educational settings across the borough put in their bids and 13 projects were approved. The criteria for the projects included helping improve Social, Emotional, Mental Health, Physical Development and supporting life skills.
Some of the projects are still being planned and some are fully operational. Have any of your schools benefited from the projects? The 13 projects are at Swindon Academy, Holy Family Catholic Primary, Nursery of Narnia, Lydiard Park Academy, Covingham Park, Kingsdown, Dorcan Academy, Lethbridge, New College, Even Swindon, Warneford and Goddard Park. The projects include sensory rooms, greenhouse, nurture provision, accessible toilets, lift, accessible doors and a well-being hub log cabin.
Parents and carers of a child or young person with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities between the ages of 0-25 years are invited to attend a drop in session with the Ofsted inspector to share your experiences of the SEND Services in Swindon. There is no need to book an appointment, just come when it is convenient to you between the times below.
Date: Tuesday 20th November, Time: 11.45am – 1pm, Venue: Civic Offices, Euclid Street, Swindon, SN1 2JH
Please note parking is limited at the Civic Offices. The nearest car park is a pay and display at Spring Gardens, Swindon, SN1 2BF.
For alternative travel http://www.swindontravelchoices.co.uk/
Ofsted are giving Swindon Borough Council a SEND inspection week commencing 19th November. See attached information on how to have your say between 12th November and 20th November.
Dear All, Please read the below communication. This is an exciting opportunity to be involved with putting core standards in place that aim to improve the support of our children in school and college, and make it more consistent. We are all once again asked to be involved in a big project, so I hope you are able to become a part of it and get our voices heard.
The Families Voice Committee
Dear parents and carers,
I am the new High Needs Implementation Manager for Swindon Borough Council. My role is to implement the recommendations of the High Needs Review that was carried out last academic year. I attach a Power-point presentation summarising what these recommendations were, for your information.
High needs are those that cannot be met from the budget delegated to schools so it covers any child or young person who is in receipt of additional top-up funding at school or who has an EHCP. However, some of the recommendations of the review also relate to the support for children and young people at SEN Support level, so the remit of the work covers all children and young people with SEND in Swindon schools and colleges.
I am undertaking a project to put in place a ‘Core Standards’ document that will help all schools across Swindon to support every child and young person with SEND (aged 4-18 years) and would really value the contribution of as many parents and carers as possible. The aim is to help schools across Swindon to provide quality and consistent support for all children with SEN. We want this document to be accessible for all – including schools, parents, carers and professionals from support services, and to link it to useful resources and advice online.
I am forming an overall Working Group for the High Needs Implementation Work and two members of the Swindon SEND Families Voice Committee have been invited to be part of this. There will also be task and finish groups for each area of SEND need: cognition and learning, communication and interaction (speech and language), communication and interaction (ASC/social communication difficulties), Social emotional and mental health needs (SEMH), Visual Impairment, Hearing Impairment and Physical Impairment. I would welcome parent/carer volunteers to be a part of any of these groups to help with developing the core standards.
There are some links at the bottom of this email to some examples of core standards that have been developed by other Local Authorities. If you would like to be a part of the decision as to what the Swindon core standards document should look like, please look at these examples of core standards and complete the above evaluation sheet. Email this evaluation sheet to firstname.lastname@example.org, the committee representative can share your views at the meeting.
If you would be interested in joining any of the task and finish groups for different areas of SEN need, it would be good to hear from you. Please email me on email@example.com, indicating which group you would like to be part of. Please also copy firstname.lastname@example.org into the email. Alternatively do feel free to give me a call on the number below.
It would be extremely valuable to have the views of parents and carers represented and to be able to use your knowledge and experience to help us to develop a really useful and beneficial document.
I look forward to working with you.
Liz Fewings, High Needs Implementation Manager. Contact at; 07977017465
We will be having a stall at this event! We hope to see some of you there on the day too.
Every few years the Aiming High short breaks statement is reviewed. We have been asked to get feedback from parents and carers in Swindon about the statement. Aiming High would like to know what you would like improved, what you would like kept the same, and any frustrations you have with the service. Click here to read the statement and please email us or find us on Facebook to send us a message with your views.