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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.
There is information on a wide range of subjects and organisations. Information on this page relates to the latest news in the field of SEND both locally and nationally.
Latest Government Open Letter to the SEND Sector
Vicky Ford, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, has written an open letter to children and young people with SEND. The letter also references the guidance for special schools and other specialist settings during the current lockdown. You can read the letter on the Council for Disabled Children website.
Enhanced Youth Support
The Just Youth service has produced details of current support services for young people, including those with SEND. You can access the newsletter in the downloads section.
Advice on What to Do if Your Child is Ill During The Pandemic
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has published a set of resources to help and support parents if their child is taken ill during the current pandemic
During the current pandemic information relating to Covid-19 and how it relates to families of children with SEND can be found here.
Programme of Events for Parents / Carers from Sandwell Parents for Disabled Children (SPDC)
SPDC has published its programme of events for parents and carers due to take place in January and February 2021
Statement from The Secretary of State Regarding the Current National Lockdown
The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, has made a statement to parliament regarding the closure of schools during the current national lockdown
Rising to the Challenge for the Early Years - Autism West Midlands
Autism West Midlands is running a free seven session course comprising webinars and Zoom sessions for parents/carers who want a better understanding of their child's autism and to learn about strategies that may help and support them. You do not need a diagnosis to take part. More details, including how to book, can be found here.
Information for Parents from High Point Academy, a New Free Secondary Special School in Wednesbury
High Point Academy is a new free special school due to open in Wednesbury in September 2021. It will cater for students aged 11-19 with autism and associated moderate learning difficulties and communication difficulties. Admission to the school is dependent on the school being named in a child's EHCP. You can read information about the school here. The Trust is happy to receive contact from prospective parents/carers who wish to find out more about this new school. Be aware that, in September 2021, the school will be admitting pupils only into years 7 to 9. Parents and Carers are invited to book a 30 minute telephone/virtual conversation with the Trust on any of the following dates: Tuesday 22nd September 2020, Monday 28th September 2020, Wednesday 30th September 2020, Friday 2nd October 2020, Friday 9th October 2020, Friday 16th October 2020, Friday 23rd October 2020. To book a 30 minute conversation about the school please email either:
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Letter from The Director of Education re SEND Transport and Guidance on Personal Transport Budgets
Chris Ward, Sandwell's Director of Education, Skills and Employment, has written to parents about arrangements for providing travel assistance for children and young people with SEND when the schools return in September. You can also access information about Personal Transport Budgets which can be used as an alternative to dedicated transport vehicles.
Update to Statutory Safeguarding Guidance
The NSPCC has produced a briefing about an update to the statutory Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance. The update comes into force on 1 September 2020
OfSTED and CQC to Support Local Area SEND Services
OfSTED and The Care Quality Commission (CQC) have been commissioned by the Government to support the strengthening of local area SEND systems in the wake of the current covid-19 pandemic. The programme of local area SEND inspections has been put on hold while this work takes place and it will resume 'when it is right to do so'. You can read the press release here.
Government Announces End to Some of the Temporary Changes to SEND Legislation
Please see below for an announcement from the Government about ending some of the changes to SEND legislation that were introduced because of the Covid-19 pandemic:
'We would like to inform you that the notice modifying the duty on local authorities to secure or arrange the special educational and health care provision specified in children and young people’s EHC plans will expire today (31 July 2020).
This follows the Secretary of State’s announcement on 2 July that, unless the evidence changes, we will not be issuing further national notices to modify this duty. Our focus will increasingly be on supporting local authorities, health commissioning bodies and education settings as they work towards full provision being restored for all children and young people with EHC plans.
The Regulations that we made to provide additional flexibility over the statutory timescales for various EHC needs assessment and plan processes remain in force and currently last until 25 September 2020 and we are keeping this under close review. We are expecting Ministers to decide next month how long the Regulations should remain in force.'
Statement of Provision from High Point Academy, a New Free Secondary Special School in Wednesbury
High Point Academy is a new free special school due to open in Wednesbury in 2021. It will cater for students aged 11-19 with autism and associated moderate learning difficulties and communication difficulties. You can read the statement of provision here.
Joint Ministerial Letter to Children and Young People with SEND and their Families
Vicky Ford MP and Helen Whateley MP have co-written a letter to children and young people with SEND and their families about the latest situation regarding coronavirus and the plans for reopening in September. Click here to read the letter.
Updated Guidance from the Government for Parents and Carers of Children with SEND
The Department for Education (DfE) has updated its guidance for parents and carers of children with SEND to include information about the full reopening of schools in September. Click here to read the updated guidance.
Letter from Sandwell's Director of Education Regarding the Reopening of Schools in September
Chris Ward, Sandwell's Director of Education, Skills and Employment has written a letter to parents and carers about the Local Authority's plan for the full reopening of schools in September. Click here to read the letter.
Support for Young People's Mental Health During the Pandemic
Mental Health has very much become a live issue during the lockdown. There are services available to support young people with issues such as loneliness and anxiety. Two of them are:
- Kooth - Kooth.com is a service, fully commissioned by The Children's Society. It is a free, safe, anonymous and non-stigmatised way for young people to receive counselling, youth support, advice and support online. Visit Kooth.com or click here to read the flyer
- Sandwell Youth Services - Sandwell Youth Services offer a support service for young people's mental health. Young people aged 11-19 (up to 25 with SEND) can email questions (anonymously, if you wish) which will be answered on a Facebook Live feed every Thursday. Click here for more information.
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
Newsletter from The Complex Communication and Autism Team (CCAT)
The Complex Communication and Autism Team has produced a newsletter to support children with autism when they return to school. Click here to access the newsletter.
Survey of Parental Experiences During the Coronavirus Lockdown
Sandwell Autism Group (SAG) has put together a survey to gather some wider parental experiences of lockdown. Click here to access the survey
Open Letter from Minister Ford to Young People with SEND and their Families
Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families has written to young people with SEND and their families to give more details about how the wider reopening of schools will affect them. You can read the letter and other coronavirus information by clicking here.
What to Expect when Schools Reopen
Sandwell MBC has produced a short video to show what can be expected in schools when they start to reopen. Click here to view it.
Maintaining Hearing Aids and Other Assistive Technology during the Pandemic
Maintaining a hygiene regime during the pandemic is important. But how should hearing impaired young people do this at the same time as ensuring that hearing aids and other technology work effectively. Here is some advice from the Sandwell Sensory Support Team.
New Guidance from the Government on the Phased Reopening of Schools for Children and Young People with SEND
The Government has published new guidance to support the phased reopening of schools for children and young people with SEND beginning on Monday 1 June 2020. You can read the guidance by clicking here
Temporary Changes to the Law on Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP) and Assessments
The Government has announced temporary changes to the law regarding EHCPs during the Coronavirus pandemic. You can read the joint ministerial letter to families and the accompanying guidance on the Council for Disabled Children website. You can download the Sandwell response to these amendments as well as other Coronavirus information.
Latest Information and Advice for Parents Regarding Covid-19
Here is the latest selection of advice and information to support the parents of children and young people with SEND during the current lockdown.
- Stress and mindfulness advice from the Sandwell Social, Emotional and Mental Health Team
- Latest Covid-19 advice from the Sandwell Sensory Support Team
- Information from Autism West Midlands Sandwell about support it is offering families (including live Facebook chats every second Friday, telephone advice appointments and live webinars)
- Medical advice from The Royal College of Paediatrics about what to do if your child is unwell or is injured during the current lockdown
- Advice from Sandwell Paediatricians on managing concerns about your child's health
- Latest parent newsletter from the Sandwell Educational and Child Psychology Team
Finding Information While Staying or Self-Isolating at Home
It can be difficult to find useful information while staying at home during the coronavirus lockdown. Here is a selection of organisations, both local and national, which provide useful advice:
- Autism West Midlands (the link is to their YouTube channel)
- Sandwell Parent Voice
- Sandwell Parents for Disabled Children
- Sandwell Sensory Support Team
- Special Needs Jungle
- Council for Disabled Children
- National Autistic Society
- BBC Bitesize
- BBC Education
- Government advice on how to support children with SEND at home
This is not an exhaustive list and we will continue to add details of more organisations in the coming days and weeks.
Government Resources to Support Children aged 0-5 while at Home
The Government has gathered together a number of resources for simple, fun activities to support parents who are staying home with children aged 0-5. Access the 'Hungry Little Minds' resources.
Information from The Inclusive Learning Team for Parents of Children with SEND During the Coronavirus Outbreak
The Inclusive Learning Team has put together some useful tips to support parents of children with SEND during the current period of the coronavirus outbreak when schools are closed and families are required to stay indoors.
You can download the information here. Save the link to your favourites as further information will be added in the coming days and weeks.
Letter from the Government re Arrangements for Children with SEND During the Coronavirus Outbreak
The Government has written an open letter to children and young people with SEND and their families to set out the changes that have been made to arrangements for supporting children and young people with SEND during the Coronavirus outbreak. You can read the letter here via the NASEN website.
Support for Parents from Sandwell Parents for Disabled Children During the Coronavirus Outbreak
Sandwell Parents for Disabled Children (SPDC) would like you to know that they are still available to provide support for parents/carers at what is a difficult and challenging time. Although face-to-face meetings have ceased they would very much like to engage with and support parents in other ways. For details of how to contact SPDC to discuss how you can be supported please email email@example.com and let them know how you would like to be contacted. They will arrange for a member of staff to contact you by email or phone.
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 £1.5 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.
To view the Evolve 3 documents and the Special Provision Plan click on the link below.
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.
As part of the improvement journey a multi-agency conference was held recently to look at some of the areas for development identified in the SEND inspection. Click on the links below to see some videos of the day: