The Local Offer provides information on the services available for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) aged between 0 to 25 and how to access them.
You can view the Somerset Choices website, which explains Somerset's Local Offer in general and in detail.
View Somerset Choices now
The Local Offer has been produced as a joint effort between Somerset County Council and Somerset Parent Carer Forum and young people's groups in schools and in colleges as well as though commissioned activity through Compass Disability.
The Children and Families Act came into effect in September 2014 and local authorities now publish and keep under review information about services they expect to be available for children and young people with special educational needs aged 0 to 25. This is the local offer.
The intention is that the local offer will improve choice and transparency for families. It will also be an important resource for professionals in understanding the range of services and provision in the local area. By bringing together all the relevant information on services, and through a feedback facility it will also inform the joint commissioning, by agencies, for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
The Local Offer provides a basis for the local authority to work with children and young people, parent carers, other agencies, and the voluntary and community sector, to develop the offer and keep it under review. This is co-production.
The Local Offer includes information about the provision available in Somerset for children and young people with special educational needs, and those for whom the local authority is responsible, regardless of whether or not they have Education, Health and Care Plans.
The Local Offer covers:
- education, health and care provision for children and young people with SEN and/or disability;
- arrangements for identifying and assessing children and young people with SEN, including arrangements for requesting an EHC needs assessment;
- other education provision (outside of schools or colleges such as sports or arts provision) training provision, including apprenticeships;
- arrangements for travel to and from schools, post 16 institutions and early years providers;
- support to help children and young people in moving between phases of education and to prepare for adulthood;
- sources of information, advice and support in the area relating to SEN, parent carer forums, support groups, childcare and leisure activities;
- arrangements for making complaints, for the resolution of disagreements, mediation and parents' and young people's right to appeal.
The Somerset Local Offer was first published on 1 September 2014. However it is recognised that this is the beginning of the development and we are ambitious that the Offer should become increasingly comprehensive and be continually refined to be more user focused. It will be regularly reviewed, but in the early stages at least, will be a work in progress. We are keen to receive feedback on both positive and negative aspects of the Offer to support its effective development, and ensure its continued usefulness.
Principles for our Local Offer framework
We want to apply the following principles in the development and ongoing production of the local offer:
It is co-produced by parent carers, young people, services and providers
All aspects of services in the Somerset Local Offer should be developed in partnership with parent carers, young people and practitioners in both agencies and the voluntary sector.
It empowers parent carers, young people, services and providers
Our Local Offer should empower parent carers, young people and practitioners by setting out clearly what can be expected locally, how to access services and where to find further information. This knowledge will enable parent carers and young people to know what to expect and to be able to hold services to account. This knowledge will support practitioners' understanding of what is available and enable them to advise parent carers and young people accurately.
It is accessible
Parent carers should be able to find our Local Offer easily and understand the content. It should involve clear and jargon free language, be widely available in the public domain and provide information on where to find extra support.
It is holistic
The Somerset Local Offer is for children and their families and young people up to the age of 25. It will have some information about services from Education (including early years settings, mainstream and special schools and colleges, training and employment support), Health, Social Care, leisure, employment and housing, in both the statutory and voluntary sectors. This will be developed over time.
It is transparent
The Local Offer will indicate the routes to access services and support. There will be an explanation of how decisions are made and by whom. Options will be set out with clear pathways for action and directions about what to do and where to go if things go wrong.
It is sustainable and sustained
There will be clear arrangements for feedback from users and for review by the co-producers - parent carers, young people and services and providers. This will help in recognising gaps in provision, limitations in services, and help identify future alternatives to address needs.
Working with parents and young people
Somerset SEND services have undertaken to work co-productively with parents through Somerset Parent Carer Forum and Somerset Parent and Young People's Partnership Service. Young people are being involved through consultation and engagement through commissioning key specialists in the voluntary sector.
The existing documents pre-date the principle of co-production and the LA is committed to amend and reform them in the spirit of the Children and Families Act 2014.
It is very important that the local authority and settings work with parents, carers and young people to develop and maintain confidence in the assessment of need and the delivery of support. This will be supported through work with the Somerset Parent Carer Forum and SENDIAS. The local authority has provided funds to SPCF to assist volunteers to support this work.