In Somerset we believe that children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are everyone’s business.
Our ambition is for every child and young person with SEND to receive an inclusive education and access the opportunities and support they need to lead and achieve their best in life.
(Somerset SEND Strategy 2023 – 2026 mission statement)
Listening to the voices of children, young people and their families is vital to ensure services are effectively meeting the identified needs. Parent carers, or children and young people themselves are the experts in their lives and the support they may need.
The law also tells us that we must listen to the views, wishes and feelings of a child and his or her parent or the young person.
How are we going to do this?
There are many ways for children, young people and their families to have their voices listened in Somerset – from collecting a child’s voice in their care plans and assessments, attending meetings and telling local area officers about what needs to happen and joining groups and forums as a collective voice.
Here are some specific ways you can have your voice heard:
The Unstoppables is a group for young people with special educational needs and disabilities aged between 13 to 25 years who want to have their voice heard and help to make changes to services that affect them. They meet face-to-face monthly and collaborate with schools, other young people’s groups and local practitioners. They also have fun, run events, make friends, and develop new skills.
For more information contact SENDparticipation@somerset.gov.uk
Somerset Parent Carer Forum (SPCF)
Somerset SENDIAS provides advocacy support for individual children, young people, and parents that empowers them to express their views and wishes and helps them to understand and exercise their rights in matters including exclusion, complaints, SEND processes, and SEND appeals.
Healthwatch Somerset have an independent role listening to what people like about health and care services and what could be improved so that your voice is heard and influences how services are run.
Somerset’s SEND Local Offer
We aim to make services more responsive to local needs and aspirations by directly involving children and young people with SEND, their parent carers, and service providers in the development and review of the Local Offer. Feedback from families is obtained via the Keeping the Local Offer up to date button on each page, and also talking to families at events.
The Unstoppables, Somerset Parent Carer Forum and SENDIAS share the views of children, young people and their families at various meetings and boards to help people understand what its like to live in Somerset. They share good practice, what isn’t working and ideas on how it could be better.
The SEND Collaboration Framework shows the different ways we plan to collaborate and keep you updated.
The Participation Toolkit has been produced in collaboration with children and young people, their parent carers and practitioners to support all the ways in which children, young people and families can have a voice that makes a real difference to the way they are supported.
How will we know it's working?
We have worked with children and young people with SEND and their families to understand what is important to live a happy life. They have identified seven key outcomes, which together spell the word ACHIEVE.
- Ambitious – pursue my interests and aspirations
- Connected – have relationships with people who are important to me
- Healthy – access health and wellbeing support when I need it
- Informed – make informed choices
- Educated – access education and opportunities for lifelong learning
- Valued – be heard, have choices and have control over my life
- Employed – or have access to money.
These outcomes will be measured through the action plan of the SEND Strategy 2023 – 2026 and will be monitored by the SEND Partnership Board.
How will we keep you up to date with what has happened because of your feedback?
We will use the you said we did section of Somerset SEND Local Offer to update you, along with SEND news.