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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.
To find specific information about organisations in Sandwell that support young people with SEND and their families please click on 'Sandwell SEND Organisations' in the links section at the top of the page.
During the current pandemic information relating to Covid-19 and how it relates to families of children with SEND can be found here.
National Autistic Society (NAS) - Latest Newsletter
NAS has published its latest newsletter. It has a focus on the importance of physical activity at school.
Easter Activities from Sandwell Parents for Disabled Children (SPDC)
SPDC has published details of its activities over Easter. For more details visit their website.
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.
Activities from Sandwell Parents for Disabled Children
Sandwell Parents for Disabled Children has published details of its activities in March and April 2021. You can find more details by downloading the SPDC Activities March-April 2021 flyer from the downloads section of this page.
Upcoming Webinars from Autism West Midlands
Autism West Midlands (AWM) is running a series of webinars over the next few weeks. They are open to parents/carers and professionals living and working in the West Midlands. Topics include
- A Guide to Education Health and Care Plans (24 February)
- How Autistic People Process Information (25 February)
- Rising to the Challenge for the Early Years (5 February - 26 March)
The AWM website states that the Rising to the Challenge webinar is fully booked but you should still be able to access it. You can also view recordings of previous Rising to the Challenge webinars. AWM is replaying its Return to School webinar in anticipation of the future reopening of schools. You can get more information by emailing Amanda Phillips at AWM on email@example.com or you can access the Autism West Midlands Webinars flyer in the downloads section of this page.
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.
Workshops and Events Run by Contact
The organisation Contact runs a variety of free family workshops for families with children with additional needs. They are currently running workshops on various dates in February and March.
Be Involved in the Start of the New Parent Forum
Sadly, the previous parent forum, Sandwell Parent Voice, is no longer active. A group of parents is endeavouring to start a new one. If you would like to be part of this and help shape services in Sandwell for children and young people with SEND you can get get more details by looking at the 'Asking for Parent Participation' leaflet in the downloads section of this page.
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.'
UK Disability Survey
Here is a statement from the government about the UK Disability Survey
'The Cabinet Office Disability Unit has launched the UK Disability Survey: https://disabilityunit.citizenspace.com/cabinet-office/ukdisabilitysurvey/.
We want to hear from as many people as possible. We are particularly keen to hear from disabled people, their carers, friends and family; but views from the wider public are also very welcome. The survey will remain open until 23 April. All views will be used to shape the delivery of the plans we set out in the forthcoming Strategy, with those that we receive by 13 February informing the development of the Strategy. We've tried to make sure the survey, which is hosted on Citizen Space, as accessible as possible. It is available in Easy Read and BSL.
Written responses can be sent to: DUCitizenspace@cabinetoffice.gov.uk. A braille version is available on request and blind or partially sighted people who are having difficulty filling in the online survey can email RNIB for advice or support at: firstname.lastname@example.org.'
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.
Support for Young Carers
Sandwell Young Carers contines to offer support to young carers during the current Covid-19 pandemic. However, the services have had to adapt to current restrictions. Look in the download section for details of services currently on offer.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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: