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The information on these pages has been put together to enable parents who have a child with special needs and/or disabilities (SEND) to find the information they are looking for in one place.
Once we are aware of information which is of interest to families of children and young people with SEND and professionals working with them we will post it here. It is organised in monthly sections.
To find specific information about organisations in Sandwell that support young people with SEND and their families please click on the 'SEND Organisations' link on the SEND Local Offer home page.
Parent Workshops from Sandwell BEAM
Sandwell BEAM is an emotional health and wellbeing service for young people aged 5-18 registed with a GP in Sandwell. It is running 3 interactive workshops in May 2022 aimed at parents. The sessions will be run over Microsoft Teams. Click on the link at the appropriate time and you will be taken to the meeting
- Sleep Support - Tuesday 3 May, 6pm
- Understanding Anxiety - Wednesday 11 May, 11 am - 12 noon
- Understanding Self-Harm - Thursday 19 May, 12 noon - 1 pm
No pre-registration required
Sandwell Parents for Disabled Children - Family Club and Parent/Carer Newsletter May 2022
Sandwell Sensory Processing Occupational Therapy Project
The Sandwell Sensory Processing Occupational Therapy Project is a 2 year pilot project to establish the effectiveness of Occupational Therapy interventions for children with sensory processing differences. Read an overview of the project in the downloads section.
NHS Keyworking Services Move from the Pilot Phase Towards Full Geographical Cover:
The NHS Long term Plan includes a commitment that ‘by 2023/24 children and young people with a learning disability and/or who are autistic with the most complex needs will have a designated keyworker’. Keyworking services have been introduced in pilot and early adopter areas to work with young people, families and services to avoid unnecessary admissions to mental health hospitals and to facilitate timely discharge with the right support in place. This next stage sees the remaining areas of the country developing plans for their Keyworking service. Visit the NHS England and NHS Improvement website for more information on the development of keyworking services. You can also find more information about the pilot projects in Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale and South Yorkshire.
New Autism Awareness Pack for Educational Professionals
To celebrate Autism Acceptance Week this year (28 March to 3 April), the Autism Education Trust (AET) have been working with their Autistic Young Expert’s Panel to produce their Let’s Learn About Autism Packs. The fully resourced packs are designed to help all education professionals to plan their Autism Acceptance Week lessons and lead conversations about autism and understanding difference.
New Government Green Paper for SEND and Alternative Provision (AP) and Consultation on Proposals
In a press release today (29 March) the government announced the publication of a Green Paper with proposals for far-reaching changes to the system for securing support for children and young people with SEND and those requiring alternative provision. You can find a helpful breakdown of the main proposals on the Special Needs Jungle website.
Alongside the publication of the SEND and AP Green Paper is a consultation on the proposals contained within it. The consultation closes on 1 July 2022 and the views of parents/carers are very much being sought.
Support for Young people with a Learning Disability to Get a Covid Booster Jab
The organisation Jigsaw is working with Sandwell Council to support the vaccine roll-out to people with a learning disability in the borough, including getting the booster jab.
To make a referral, or if you would like help getting a vaccine, please call 07543 194887 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
New Online Meeting Space for Autistic Young People
Ambitious about Autism has launched the UK’s first online platform for autistic young people – please find further details on their website.
Sandwell Parents for Disabled Children (SPDC) - Parent/Carer Newsletter for April 2022 and Easter 2022 Activities
Update on Liberty Protection Safeguards
Liberty Protection Safeguards will provide protection for people aged 16 and above who are or who need to be deprived of their liberty in order to enable their care or treatment and lack the mental capacity to consent to their arrangements. People who might have a Liberty Protection Safeguards authorisation include those with autism and learning disabilities who lack the relevant capacity.
The Department for Health and Social Care has confirmed that it will not be able to meet the April 2022 date to implement the Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS). The launch of the public consultation on the draft regulations and draft Code of Practice for the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) and the LPS is expected imminently.
The following link provides more detail, however this is to be used as guidance whilst we await further details of the regulations, Code of Practice and formal consultation process:https://councilfordisabledchildren.org.uk/sites/default/files/uploads/attachments/Update%20on%20the%20implementation%20of%20the%20Liberty%20Protection%20Safeguards.pdf
The local authority along with relevant partners, which includes a representative from Sandwell Parents Voices United are meeting on a regular basis to discuss the implementation of LPS. Further updates will be provided as and when available.
The government have also produced a number of fact sheets that provide more detail which can be accessed via the following link:
Help Shape Services in The Black Country for Children and Young People with Moderate or Severe Learning Disabilities
There is a stakeholder event planned, via Zoom, on Wednesday 15 June 2022. It is aimed at parents/carers of children and young people up to the age of 25 with learning disabilities, professionals who work with them and their families and third sector organisation that work in this area. At this event we hope you will be able to hear what we’ve found out so far, share your views on existing support and services in The Black Country, discuss your ideas and hopes for the future and help us improve local services. To book a place email email@example.com
New Personal Education Budget Policy Produced
Sandwell has produced a new policy for the use of Personal Education Budgets. You can find more information as well as the new policy on the Education, Health and Care Plans page
Help Influence Government Policy for Young People - Complete a Short Survey
This request is via the Council for Disabled Children
The Youth Policy Development Group (aged 16-20) is calling on other young people to help them prepare for a roundtable meeting with the Government/Department for Culture,Media and Sport (DCMS) at the end of February 2022 by completing a mini-survey on ways to engage and talk with Government about policies.
The Survey has 5 questions and should take no more than 5 -10 minutes. The survey is open until Sunday 27 February but they will be sharing the findings with the Government as they come in.
Government Consultation on Updated Behaviour Guidance for Schools
The Department for Education has launched a consultation to seek views on proposed revisions to the Behaviour in Schools Guidance and Suspension and Permanent Exclusion Guidance and associated changes to regulations. This consultation will close on 31 March 2022. In both sets of revisions, one of the aims has been to strengthen guidance on how schools must or should take into account any contribution that a child’s SEN or disability may make to their behaviour. As part of this it has strengthened the material describing the relevant duties under the Children and Families Act 2014 and Equality Act 2010
Activities from Sandwell Parents for Disabled Children (SPDC) in Half-Term and Beyond
SPDC has announced details of its activities for children and families in February half-term. You can also read the February/ March newsletter for parents and carers as well as details of the Family Club for February through to April.
Update on Elm Tree Primary Academy for Children with Autism - A Statement from Michael Jarrett, Director of Children's Services and Education
We have been made aware of delays to the building of the new special school in Wednesbury called Elm Tree Primary Academy.
The Department for Education (DfE) is overseeing the build of the new school so unfortunately these delays are out of the council's hands. It was proposed for the school to be ready for September 2022, but this deadline can no longer be met by the DfE because of supply chain issues outside their control. The DfE have agreed to work with the council and trust in delivering a temporary solution.
We know this is not the news you are hoping for and we realise the importance of meeting the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities.
With Victoria Academy Trust and the support of the DfE, we intend to have an interim building ready to open for September 2022. This will provide a specialist provision for autistic children and will provide the same expertise and bespoke support while we await the new building to be completed.
Some parents have waited a while and for some it will be their child's first experience of primary school. With all this in mind, we will be asking Sandwell Council's Cabinet to sign off these plans in March 2022.
Victoria Academy Trust is a Sandwell-based multi-academy trust which already leads three highly successful schools in Smethwick and has an excellent track record in supporting autistic children through their specialist resource bases. The school, based at Connor Road, West Bromwich, will be equipped with sensory and therapy rooms in addition to class bases and will offer a tailored and individualised curriculum to meet the needs of each child.
While this is a temporary measure we hope the Department for Education will be able to meet the new deadline of September 2023, so that we and Victoria Academy Trust can open Elm Tree Primary Academy fully at the Wednesbury site.
Autism and Anxiety Online Training for Parents and Carers
Autism West Midlands is running an online training course on Autism and Anxiety for parens and carers. This two-session course is via Zoom and starts on Thursday 10 February at 10.30. Visit their website for more information including details of how to book.
New Dance Class for Children with SEND
The organisation Babyballet has organised a dance class for children with SEND at the Brasshouse Community Centre in Smethwick (postcode B66 1BA). The classes take place on Saturday and start at 10.30. The classes are for children with any type of disability and last for 35 minutes. An initial 3 week trial costs £20 and subsequent classes are £6 + VAT each payable in a half-tem block (about 7 weeks). You can get more information or book a trial by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 07968 700181. Alternatively you can look at the leaflet in the downloads section of this page.
Letter from Minister for Children and Families Regarding the Government's SEND Review
Will Quince, MP, the Minister for Children and Families has published an open letter to families regarding the government's upcoming SEND review
Autism Confident - Black Country
Autism West Midlands is bringing its Autism Cofident course to the Black Country. This is an opportunity to learn about autism in a small, supportive group. You can share experiences and identify strategies that can help in your everyday life. It is a six-session course that will take place in all four Black Country boroughs including via Zoom for any adult particpants.
For more details email email@example.com or phone 0121 450 7575. Alternatively, you can download the flyer in the downloads section of this page.
New National Strategy for Autistic Children, Young People and Adults
Information from the Department for Education:
"Improving the lives of autistic people is the focus of a new multi-million pound strategy launched by the government today. Backed by nearly £75 million in the first year, it aims to speed up diagnosis and improve support and care for autistic people. The funding includes £40 million through the NHS Long Term Plan to improve capacity in crisis services and support children with complex needs in inpatient care. It also includes £600,000 to fund training for staff in early years settings, schools and colleges, to improve the experience of autistic children in the education system and prepare them for adulthood. "
You can find more in formation on the GOV.UK website
New SEND Strategy for Sandwell
Sandwell has produced its strategy for children and young people with SEND covering the years 2021-24. To access the strategy click on 'Updates from the SEND Strategic Board' in the Related Pages section of this page.
Safeguarding Children and Young People with Autism
The National Autistic Society has produced a guide that explores safeguarding and child protection with specific reference to autistic young people. It outlines what all professionals should consider when they have concerns about a young person's welfare or safety. The material draws on national statutory guidance.
New Parent Forum for Sandwell
Every Local Authority has a parent forum which encourages the participation of parents in the development of services for children and young people with special educational needs and / or disabilities. Sandwell Parents Voices United is the new parent forum in Sandwell. If you would like to be part of the group it can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 07306 364106. You can follow them on Twitter (@VoicesParents) or on Instagram . You can also watch a short video which gives more details of the forum.
New BUZZ website for Deaf Children
The Buzz website has officially launched. This is the only website for deaf young people aged 8-18 in the UK and has been co-created with deaf young people and National Deaf Children’s Society.
National Autistic Society (NAS) - Latest Newsletter
NAS has published its latest newsletter. It has a focus on the importance of physical activity at school.
Mind Over Natter - Supporting Your Child's Mental Health
Sandwell CAMHS has produced a podcast - Mind Over Natter in which there is discussion about how parents can support their child's mental health. There is a particular focus on lockdown and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. You will need an up to date browser to access the podcast. Alternatively, you can find it on Apple Podcasts.
Extended Funding for Supported Internships
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed that students taking part in a supported internship who are unable to attend their work placements due to coronavirus (COVID-19) can apply for Access to Work funding until the end of August 2021 for work-related activities where: a job coach leads the activity and the activities develop employability skills. Access to Work funding is available for employability activities that are delivered face-to-face or via digital methods. You can contact the Access to Work helpline on 0800 121 7479, and further information is at: Get support in work if you have a disability or health condition (Access to Work)
Over £42 million to extend projects for children with SEND
The Government has announced over £42 million of funding to extend projects working with children with SEND and their families. It includes £27 million for The Family Fund which supports low-income families raising children with SEND to purchase equipment, goods and services which they might not otherwise be able to afford. There is also increased funding for local parent-carer forums. More information can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Home Schooling Advice from the National Autistic Society
The National Autistic Society has advice on managing home schooling for autistic students. This includes hints and tips from parents themselves.
Youth Healthwatch Sandwell
Statement from Healthwatch Sandwell re the establishment of Youth Healthwatch:
'Healthwatch Sandwell has established a Youth Healthwatch to ensure the views of Children and Young People on the health and social care services they use are heard. We wish to be a forum to enable Children and Young People to help shape and improve future services. We are recruiting young people to be part of Youth Healthwatch in a formal volunteering role or by individual projects that are important to a group of young people.'
'We would be happy to support any school project around Health and Social Care, maybe your school council would like to make a difference in a particular area? We wish to ensure everyone is heard and particularly wish to recruit young people who have a long term medical condition, disability, have a social worker or care for an individual.'
Digital Skills Training for Young People with Autism
The organisation Caudwell Children is offering young people with autism aged 18-25 an opportunity to join their Digital Skills Programme aimed at upskilling and introducing individuals to the world of work within the digital economy. Visit their website for more details including eligibility and how to apply.
West Midlands Police Advice on the Safer Use of Tik Tok
Tik Tok is a social media app that is very popular with young people. As with all apps of this kind there are things you can do to support its safe use. This flyer from West Midlands Police gives some tips on how to support your child to use Tik Tok safely. Click here to see the information
The Local Authority (along with central government and organisations from the private and voluntary sector) is constantly striving to improve its support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families. To that end strategies and initiatives to address different areas of SEND are regularly produced which have been produced invariably in collaboration with parents and young people. Details of these initiatives will appear here.
You can see which strategies and initiatives have been produced, access the associated documents and submit any queries you may have.
SEND Annual Report
Each year we will publish an annual report which details the developments that have taken place in the field of Special Educational Needs and Disability during the preceding year. The latest report refers to the calendar year 2019.
The EVOLVE Strategy and Special Provision Plan
The EVOLVE strategy follows on from a review of SEND provision undertaken in 2016. It provides 'a vision, a mission and a strategy' which will lead to significant improvements in provision for the most vulnerable children and young people in Sandwell. In order to achieve this goal Sandwell will make use of the capital funding it has been given by the Department for Education and which amounts to approximately £2.65 million pounds over the three years to 2021. This funding is intended to allow the Local Authority to develop and improve provision for pupils with Education Health and Care Plans. It can be used to create new places or to improve facilities for pupils with SEND at existing schools.
Preliminary information about how the capital funding will be spent are contained in the Evolve 3 strategy while details about specific projects and plans can be found in the Special Provision Plan.
View the EVOLVE strategy documents. The latest Special Provision Plan can be accessed via the downloads section of this page.
The CLASS Initiative
The Communication, Language, Autism and Social Skills (CLASS) Initiative was produced in 2016 and was designed to detect, identify and intervene early with children who experience significant social communication difficulties and have problems talking. It was a joint initiative with Children's Centres in Sandwell and Sandwell Public Health.
SEND Employment White Paper
For a young person with SEND finding employment can be challenging. This white paper from the Challenge Board sets out ambitions to improve employment opportunities for young people with SEND in Sandwell. The Challenge Board is made up of young people with SEND and makes sure that the voices of young people are heard when plans and strategies are being drawn up. They are supported by the organisation Changing Our Lives.
Action Planning for Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)
In March 2019 the Sandwell area was visited by OfSTED and The Care Quality Commission (CQC) to monitor our progress towards the goals identified in our recent SEND action plan .
They found that Sandwell had made sufficient progress to allow for the lifting of the requirement for a written statement of action and the ceasing of monitoring visits by OfSTED and the CQC.