Over the last nine months we (the Council) have been working with IMPOWER, a consultancy with expertise in SEND. IMPOWER have been helping us to develop and improve our SEND practices.

This work has involved:

  • Opening an Inclusion Advice Line that provides access to advice for SENCos to help meet children’s needs earlier. SENCos and school staff can reach the Inclusion Advice Line on 0300 123 2224.
  • Two phases of testing the Valuing SEND tool, improving our understanding of children’s needs and the readiness of schools to meet needs in Somerset.

What are the outcomes?

Inclusion Advice Line

321 calls were received from SENCos in the first 5 weeks. 52 calls were about getting early help and advice.

Of those who fed back:

  • 80% of callers reported feeling more confident to meet children’s needs
  • 44% said it reduced the likely escalation of needs in future
  • 5 exclusions were prevented

Valuing SEND pilots

  • 40+ schools in Somerset were trained in Valuing SEND.
  • Last autumn, Valuing SEND was used to support some Year 6s with EHCPs with their move to secondary school.
  • Schools also chose to use the tool for other children, ranging from Early Years to Year 11, showing that they found the tool helpful.
  • Many shared their positive experience of Valuing SEND including to:
    • Support the phase transfer process
    • Explore children’s emerging needs
    • Provide additional information on children with more complex needs
    • Assess their readiness to meet SEND needs as a whole and identify areas to develop.


What’s next?

We’re pleased to see such encouraging feedback. Our next steps will involve maintaining the momentum of this work and embedding positive changes. This will include:

Continuing to encourage use of the Inclusion Advice Line

Handing over the support of the Inclusion Advice Line (for SENCos and schools) from IMPOWER to the Somerset Council team. We will keep developing the model to have the greatest impact for children.

Embedding Valuing SEND as Somerset’s Inclusion Tool

Introducing Valuing SEND to all Somerset schools. Providing training to schools and supporting them to start using it.

  • This will begin with mainstream and special schools in Somerset, moving onto early years providers and further education at a later date.
  • This is a great opportunity for all schools to have access to the tool that 40+ schools have already been trained in.
  • Schools will complete a setting readiness exercise using Valuing SEND which will help ensure the Council’s Inclusion offer delivers the support that schools need.
  • It is the start of a wider process and more information will be shared on how Valuing SEND will be used as Somerset’s Inclusion Tool, for example to support phase transfers (such as primary to secondary school), building on the success of the pilots.
  • If you are a mainstream or maintained special school, you can book onto Valuing SEND training here – https://forms.office.com/e/8WbzTFRZ87

We’re confident that together with schools we can significantly improve experiences for children, young people and their families.


Submitted by the Statutory SEND team.

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About this article

February 6, 2023