All-Age Disability (0 to 25) Newsletter

All-Age Disability (0 to 25) Newsletter

This will provide parents and carers of young people with SEND with news and updates within the service.

Welcome to the March All Age (0-25) Disability Newsletter

Hi and welcome to the March All-Age Disability (0-25 years) Newsletter. 

The daffodils are in bloom which surely means the warmer (and hopefully drier) weather is on its way! In this month’s edition we have Mel Barnett’s update, information about a new dyspraxia pathway, an easy read leaflet about measles to download, information from SENDIASS and details about an event for parents and carers of young people with an EHCP.

Update from Mel Barnett

Last month I provided a very brief update on the Change Programme Partnership (CPP). You will be able to find more detail on the CPP, on the SEND Local Offer via the following link News, updates and feedback.

As part of the SEND and AP Change Programme, one of the reform areas that we will be working on is the trialing and testing of a new EHCP template. All four local authorities in the West Midlands region started using the new template from 4 March 2024. Each local authority has been asked to test the new template on a minimum of 80 EHCPs. 

The aim of the new template is: 

  • to develop one, national EHCP template by 2025, which will help to improve the experience for families
  • improving the quality and clarity of plans
  • providing better support for children and young people
  • to improve partnership working, especially those that are working across different areas

If your child will be receiving an EHCP in the new template, this will be communicated to you before the plan writing takes place, which will also include your agreement to take part. As we progress the work of the CPP we will of course keep you informed. In addition, Elaine Lambe who is the Regional Parent Carer representative at the weekly CPP meetings also met with the Worcestershire PCF - Families in Partnership and further communications were discussed and are being planned.

Thank you,

Mel Barnett – Director for All-Age Disability

New dyspraxia Pathway

Worcestershire Children First’s (WCF) Learning Support Team have recently been working alongside NHS Children’s Occupational Therapy (OT) Service to update their Dyspraxia Pathway. This new document will be available to download on the WCF website Learning Support Team. It is designed to ensure that teachers are able to identify pupils with motor coordination difficulties and put in suitable support and intervention. It lays down the process that schools need to follow before they consider making a referral to the OT service. 

Many of the children affected will respond well to intervention and will not need to follow the pathway to the end, but for some, this process will help to ensure that any referrals made to OT will be appropriate and will reduce the time that assessment will take, as much of the groundwork will already be evidenced.  

The Pathway contains links to many useful websites and resources that can be used at school and at home. 

The Pathway was introduced to school SENDCos at their recent network meetings so all schools should now be aware that this is the approach approved by WCF and NHS.

SEND Post 16 Holistic support event for parents and carers

Worcestershire County Council (WCC) are running their first SEND Post 16 Holistic support event for parents and carers of young people with an EHCP. The event is open to parent/carers across Worcestershire and is free.

The informal and relaxed event is your opportunity to connect with a diverse range of services and explore the local support available for your young person. Whether you're seeking advice, information, or simply want to connect with other parents and carers, this event could be for you. The Heart of Worcestershire college are hosting the event in their Smart Living facility in Worcester on Thursday 18 April 4:00pm to 7:00pm.

Where: St. Wulstan’s Building, Worcester WR1 2ES

When: Thursday 18 April 4:00pm to 7:00pm

Reserve your free place: SEND Post 16 Holistic support event for parent/carers booking form

 

Easy read measles leaflet

You are probably aware that there has been a rise in measles cases nationally and the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Community Learning Disability Service have developed an easy read leaflet about the importance of the measles vaccine. You can download it here to share with your children or young people if you want to help explain about what the measles vaccine is and what having a vaccination entails.

Measles Easy Read February 2024 (PDF)

SENDIASS training videos

The Herefordshire and Worcestershire Special Educational Needs/Disability Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) have released their Online information session as a training video. This video explains the SENDIASS service and how the team can support families of children and young people with SEND in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. 

You can watch the video here: An Introduction to Herefordshire and Worcestershire SENDIASS (YouTube video)

The video is also available on the HW SENDIASS How we can help webpage.

SENDIASS have also released the first of their Meet the Professionals videos. These videos will give you the opportunity to hear from professionals that you or your child/ young person may come into contact with. The first video explains the role of the Designated Clinical Officer (DCO) for SEND. There will be more videos to follow shortly. 

HW SENDIASS also offer a range of other training workshops for parent carers and professionals. Find out more on the SENDIASS Training webpage

Previous newsletters

AAD Newsletter - February 2024

Hi and welcome to the February All-Age Disability (0-25 years) Newsletter. 

We’ve got lots in this month’s issue including information for parent carers of young children and for those aged 14 and upwards, along with Mel Barnett’s update and something new for male parent carers.

Update from Mel Barnett

This month I’d like to give you further updates on the ASD free school, improvement work we are involved in and CPP. 

ASD Free School

The Academy Trust interviews took place week commencing 8th January 2024 and I was part of the interview panel. The Department for Education (DfE) will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State in Spring/Summer 2024 in terms of the successful Trust. The full feasibility, for the site, is currently underway and completion is expected imminently. Worcestershire Children First (WCF) officers are working with the DfE design team on planning for the new school. The next steps will be a report to the March 2024 Cabinet meeting. Once the successful Academy Trust has been announced, they will be part of the planning and design of the new school.

Improvement Updates

As you will be aware there is a lot of improvement work being carried out within Worcestershire Children First (WCF) that we want to share with parent carers, children, young people, and professionals. These are being delivered under improvement projects including the Accelerated Progress Plan (APP), Delivering Better Value (DBV) and the Change Programme Partnership (CPP). We are currently revisiting our communication approach with the key aim being to update parents, carers, children and young people and partners about the key achievements we’re making across SEND as a whole. We hope this approach will help make things clearer for parent carers and allow us to really focus on sharing tangible progress and demonstrate how this progress is working towards meeting key outcomes. I hope to be able to provide further detail in the next newsletter.

Change Programme Partnership (CPP)

As a region we are currently finalising the road map of activity linked to the CPP and the associated communication for parents and how you can become involved. It is anticipated that this will be available in the next few weeks. You may be aware that as part of the pilot there will be testing of a new EHCP template. This will commence in March and will involve 80 children in each Local Authority. Further details relating to this will follow.  I also want to provide assurance that as part of the weekly regional meetings there is a Regional Parent Carer Representative who is in attendance.

Thank you,

Mel Barnett – Director for All-Age Disability

Special School reception places 2024

Worcestershire Children First are currently working towards National Offer Day (NOD) for primary school places, Tuesday 16 April. This is the date which families with a child starting school in September 2024 will find out which school they are being offered a place in.
If you have a child who is going through the Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment process (EHCNA), it is our intention to make a decision about their named placement by this date. We are currently working on a number of assessments and aim to confirm special school reception places for September 2024 by April 16 2024. 

As parents, if your preference is for a reception place at special school, we will name your child’s current early years setting for now, and your request for a special school place will be considered. You should know by mid-April (in line with National Offer Day) what school place is being offered.

Requests that have been received since the beginning of January 2024 may not meet the April deadline, as decisions about placement follow EHCNA timelines. National Offer Day is less than 16 weeks after the beginning of the year and information for the assessment may not have been gathered in time for a decision to be made. However, this does not mean your child won’t be considered for a special school place if they need one, you will be notified after the April deadline.

Early Years Inclusion Process update

The Early Years Inclusion Process and the system to submit Early Years Inclusion Notifications launched on 1 November 2023.  Since then, we have received 139 new notifications for children under 5 in Worcestershire.

Out of those 139 children the outcomes so far are: 

  • 75 children are being supported by the Early Years Inclusion Team (EYIT)
  • 20 children are being supported by the Complex Communication Team (CCN)
  • 15 children are being supported by an Early Years Language Class (EYLC)
  • 29 children continue to have their needs met and are supported by their early years provider. No further action is therefore required from the Early Years Inclusion Process  

We are continually reviewing our processes and welcome feedback from parents and professionals.
If you have received support from WCF Inclusion Support Services since the 1st November, we would love to hear from you!

How do I give feedback on the process?

Parent / carers are encouraged to give feedback on the Early Years Inclusion Process. This can be completed via the online form Feedback about EYIP for parents.

Providers are encouraged to give feedback on the Early Years Inclusion Process. This can be completed via the online form Feedback about EYIP for providers.

We also have a Frequently asked question document, which we update following any feedback. This can be found on our webpage Early Years Inclusion Process.

Do you have a question?

Any questions regarding the Early Years Inclusion Process, please contact eynotification@worcschildrenfirst.org.uk 

Worcestershire Skills Show 2024

Worcestershire Careers Hub are hosting the 2024 Skills Show at Worcester Sixways Stadium.

Parents and carers are welcome to attend with their young people between 5pm and 8pm on Wednesday, 6 March. The event is FREE with no need to book and there is plenty of free parking.

The event is open to all (it is not SEND specific) and is a great opportunity for you and your young person to talk to the experts about the skills and qualifications needed for a huge variety of roles!

Trained careers advisers are also available to help young people who are not sure of their future pathways. Exhibitors include Worcester University, Harper Adams University, local F.E. colleges and private training providers, Worcestershire Apprenticeships and Careers Worcestershire. Organisations and businesses attending the event include the NHS, the Armed Forces, Southco, Yamazaki Mazak, Worcester City Football Club, NHS Community Dentists, Worcestershire County Council and the Police Cyber Security Unit to name but a few.

This event could be of particular interest to those parents with young people aged 14-16 (though other ages are welcome). You can find out more here: Worcestershire Skills Show 2024.

Parent/carer leaflet about Educational Psychologist Role

The Educational Psychology (EP) Team have put together a leaflet for parent/carers to help explain how they will work with them and what is meant by a ‘consultation approach’.  The aim is that this will be used when schools or settings ask parent/carers for consent for involvement from the EP Team.  

They welcome any feedback or comments to enable them to address any questions that parent/carers may have.  Please email:  EdPsychology@worcschildrenfirst.org.uk

You can download the new leaflet here: EP information for parent carer about consultation approach (PDF).

Men Care Too

A new support group for male parent carers, called Men Care Too Walk and Talk is to start. Following feedback from SEND families saying that there is no support for male carers, Sam, from the Young Adults Team, did some research about what’s on offer in other areas, and what men would like in Worcestershire and is trialling the new scheme.

It's open to any male parent/carer who provides a caring role and who would like the opportunity to meet up with others in a similar position.
The idea is to take advantage of the wonderful countryside we have and the warmer weather which is on its way (hopefully) and meet up for a walk and a chat.

The Walk and Talk group will be meeting the last Wednesday of each month at 10am outside the front entrance of The Orchard Café at Worcester Woods Country Park. The site has free parking and there’s the option to stay and have refreshments (additional cost) at the café afterwards, for those who want to.

Come along to the Walk and Talk for a chance to meet others in a supportive environment. Last Wednesday in the month at Worcester Woods Country Park, Wildwood Drive, Worcester WR5 2LG.

Healthwatch Worcestershire want the views and experiences of young people aged 13-25 years

Healthwatch Worcestershire finds out what people think about health and social care services. They use this information to tell those who run the services how they can be improved. 

They want to hear the views and experiences of young people (aged 13-25) in Worcestershire. In particular, they want to hear about young people’s experiences of accessing help with their emotional wellbeing, as well as accessing support for issues around gender identity and/or neurodiversity.
The survey is anonymous and confidential - responses will be combined and used to create a report which will be publicly available on their website later this year.

The survey is running until 28 March 2024.

Healthwatch Worcestershire: Young People's Health and Emotional Wellbeing Survey 2024 (surveymonkey.com)

AAD Newsletter - January 2024

Welcome to the January All Age (0 to 25) Disability Newsletter

Hello and welcome to the January edition of the All-Age Disability (0 to 25 years) Newsletter. 

In this month’s edition we have amongst other things, an update from Mel Barnett, news about changes to way we hear about SEND families experiences, new information which has been added to the SEND Local Offer and information about some Christmas events which our hearing and visual impairment teams ran.

Update from Mel Barnett

You will be aware from previous communications that Worcestershire was successful in its bid for an ASD Free School which will be built in Malvern. The application window for Trust applications closed on 31 August 2023. Between September and December 2023, the applications were assessed by the Department of Education. On 9 and 12 January 2024, the successful applicants were interviewed. I was also part of the interview panel. Applications will now be subject of standardisation and moderation. At the time of writing, it is not known when the successful Trust will be announced, we will of course keep you updated.

In the October Newsletter I updated that Worcestershire were part of the Change Programme Partnership. The planning, for the West Midlands partnership is continuing and I hope to be able to send out some further communications over the coming weeks regarding the next steps and how parents can become involved. 

Finally, I want to update and thank all of you that fed back regarding the Herefordshire and Worcestershire All-Age Autism Strategy 2024 to 2029. My involvement in the Strategy related to Priority 2 as detailed below. The Strategy will reflect the 6 priorities within the National Autism Strategy 2021 to 2026 as detailed below. There will also be an additional local priority around keeping safe. The Strategy will be presented to the Health and Wellbeing Board, for sign off on 28 March 2024.

  1. Improving understanding and acceptance of autism within society
  2. Improving autistic children and young people’s access into education and support positive transitions into adulthood
  3. Supporting more autistic people into employment
  4. Tackling health and care inequalities for autistic people
  5. Building the right support in the community
  6. Improving support in criminal and youth justice systems
  7. Keeping safe

Thank you,

Mel Barnett – Director for All-Age Disability

Changes to the way parent carer views are heard and listened to

In January Mel Barnett, Director for All-Age Disability (0 to 25) wrote to all the members of the SEND Parent Carer Stakeholder Group to let them know about changes to the way we hear from parent carer groups, which had been made by the SEND 0 to 25 Partnership Board.

You can read the letter here:

Dear Parent Carer Stakeholder Group, 

It is important to the development and improvement of SEND Services for children and young people in Worcestershire that parent carers have a voice, and our families’ experiences are actively heard and understood.

Just under two years ago a SEND Parent Carer Stakeholder Group was formed to widen stakeholder involvement in the four workstreams of our SEND Accelerated Progress Plan (APP). There has been some success in this forum, but we haven’t been able to consistently reach as many representatives or build the relationships we had hoped. Therefore, the SEND 0-25 Partnership Board, which oversees the work of the APP, has made the decision to replace the stakeholder group with a new process, which will strengthen the direct links we have as a partnership with the widest range of registered forums across Worcestershire. 

Each board representative will be assigned to a parent carer forum and, subject to the forum agreement, they will attend that forum on a quarterly basis in order to hear the experiences, positive and negative, of its group members and also hear any ideas about how things could change and what their role and function in that might be to support that change. Key themes will then be fed back and discussed at the SEND 0-25 Partnership Board.

Board members, who represent organisations across Education, Health, Social Care, Voluntary Sector and Worcestershire Children First, will be assigned to their support group at the next Board meeting on 19 January. Each member will contact and visit their group before the Partnership Board meeting in April. The visits are expected to be face-to-face, except for those groups who have an online presence only or would rather hold it virtually. These new way of engagement will be reviewed in September 2024.

I want to end by thanking all of the representatives from the different groups that have previously attended, and currently attend for your time and commitment to the meetings. On behalf of all Board Members, we very much look forward to continuing to develop those relationships as well as developing new relationships.

Regards

Mel Barnett

New guides and videos added to the Preparing for Adulthood section of the SEND Local Offer

The SEND Local Offer has recently been redesigned and contains lots of new information and it is something that we are continuing to develop. 

This month we have added some new guides and videos which we hope will help to aid understanding about housing options for young people with a disability and the Deprivation of Liberty Standards. They can be found in the Preparing for Adulthood (16 to 25 years) section of the website.

In the Housing section we have added a short video and a written guide which are for people with additional needs and their carers, who live in Worcestershire, and who are looking at the supported living options.

The other new information is about Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, or DoLS. A new guide and video have been added to the Your rights regarding making decisions page of the SEND Local Offer. The video gives an overview of what DoLS is and then the guide gives you more detailed information and can be viewed or downloaded from the page.

Seasonal social events for children with sensory impairments


In December Worcestershire Children First’s Sensory Impairment team had some seasonal events for children. Their social events offer children with a sensory impairment the opportunity to meet one another while having plenty of fun. 

Last term, vision impaired children met at PYPLC on 7 December to celebrate the festive period with a bouncy castle, Christmas crafts, a picnic lunch and a very special visit from Father Christmas himself!

The Deaf and Hearing Impairment Team held their event at Kings Hawford School on the 18 December. Christmas crafts, silent signed singing, a buffet tea and a visit from signing Santa were the highlights of the event which was their most well attended yet with almost 60 children!

Please look out for their Spring social events – your Specialist Teachers can give you further information. 

 

Your views and experiences of Groups, Activities and Short Breaks needed

Worcestershire’s parent carer forum, Families in Partnership (FiP), want to hear from families with children/young people with SEND, about their experiences booking and using Groups, Activities and Short Breaks Provision across Worcestershire.

They are collecting the views and experiences of families through a short, anonymous online survey, the results of which they will feedback to Worcestershire Children First to help inform their development of a booking system for short breaks and activities.

Amongst other things, FiP want to know what’s working well and not so well, what features families would like in the new booking system and what are the barriers to accessing activities. 

They want to hear from as many families as possible and you can take part here: Groups, Activities and Short Breaks survey.

Warm Spaces in Worcestershire libraries 

As the winter season sets in, Worcestershire Libraries are great places to visit, offering everyone a free, warm, welcoming, and friendly space. For more detailed information on warm spaces in libraries, and the different services they provide, please visit the dedicated Warm Welcome pages on their website.

The 21 libraries across the county are part of the Warm Welcome Network, providing a haven of friendliness and relaxation throughout the winter months. The Warm Welcome Network is a national initiative which lists venues that can provide a warm welcome for those struggling to heat their homes this winter, you can find out more here: Warm Welcome Campaign.

AAD Newsletter – December 2023

Welcome to the December All Age (0 to 25) Disability Newsletter

Season’ greetings! Welcome to the December edition of the All-Age Disability (0 to 25 years) Newsletter. 

It’s a busy time of year for families and can be difficult for children and young people with additional needs. Worcestershire Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) have information on their website about Coping with Christmas, which you might find useful Coping with Christmas.

This last edition of the year has an update from Mel Barnett, information about the SEND Local Offer and a link to the latest Life beyond School Choices magazine.

I hope you find something useful, and I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a lovely holiday break and a happy, healthy 2024.

Update from Mel Barnett

I want to start this update by talking about our Project Search Internship Programme and how proud everyone involved is, of the 7 children and young people from Regency School who are completing their supported internship at Worcester Hospital. All 7 students started their internship in September 2023.  Project Search is a transition to work programme committed to transforming the lives of young people with learning disabilities and or autism. We are currently working on more communication around the programme which will include the plans we have for September 2024.  If you are interested in finding out more about the Project Search programme, please use this link. Home - DFN Project Search

The outcome of the Accelerated Progress Plan (APP) was received on 1st November 2023. The full letter can be found via the following link SEND Improvement Plan. Whilst we know that there is much more to do, I am pleased that it was recognised that there have been a range of actions that have been put in place to continue and accelerate improvement in SEND services for children and young people in Worcestershire. The DfE and NHS England were satisfied that we have demonstrated clear and sustained progress for Workstream 1: ‘The variation in the skills and commitment of some mainstream schools to provide effective support for children with SEND’ and will therefore no longer need to continue with formal monitoring of this workstream. The next review of the APP will take place on 5 April 2024. 

This will be the last update of 2023, so I wish you and your families a Happy Christmas and for those of you that don’t celebrate a restful holiday period. 

Mel Barnett – Director for All-Age Disability

Information about the role of a SEND Services Case Work Officer

As part of our efforts to be open and transparent with our SEND families, we’ve recently added a section on the Local Offer about the All-Age Disability Service and what that encompasses. We get asked about who everyone is, and what they do, in particular SEND Case Work Officers. We’ve added information about what Case workers do and their responsibilities along with some frequently asked questions and answers. You can find it here: SEND Services.

Autumn 2023 Life Beyond School Choices Magazine

We are excited to share issue 4 of the wonderful Life Beyond School Magazine created by Worcestershire County Council.

The publication will allow parent/carers, student, and support staff to navigate the world of Life Beyond School for pupils who may need additional support or have an Education, Health and Care plan. 

The magazine talks through the areas of preparation for adulthood covering, Further Education, Employment and Volunteering, Independent Living and Life skills, Health and wellbeing and finally Day and Community Opportunities. 

With activities, case studies and more to provide a holistic approach to choosing options for life beyond school. 

You can read it here: Choice Magazine - Life Beyond School, Autumn 2023.

New look Local Offer

Our new style SEND Local Offer website has been live for just over a month now, have you had a chance to look at it? We’d really love to hear what you think about it, both good and bad. Is there anything you found particularly useful, or have you looked for something and couldn’t find it? Let us know by emailing: localoffer@worcschildrenfirst.org.uk

It’s panto season!

With the way Christmas falls this year, it means the school holidays incorporate the whole of the first week of January. If you’re looking for something to do, a panto might be the thing. Did you know that many theatres now offer quiet, more relaxed performances for families with a family member who finds a trip there challenging? So it might be worth looking on your local theatres website to see if they are offering relaxed performances, when and if they offer concessions.

AAD Newsletter – November 2023

Welcome to the November All Age (0 to 25) Disability Newsletter

Hi, welcome to the November edition of the All-Age Disability (0 to 25 years) Newsletter. We have quite a bit in this month’s edition including Mel Barnett’s update about our new look Local Offer website and news about our SEND (Special Education Needs and Disabilities) APP review. There are also articles from Inclusion Support Services, the Autism/CCN team, Early Years Inclusion and Worcestershire libraries.

Update from Mel Barnett

In this month’s newsletter I wanted to highlight our new look SEND Local Offer website, which launched earlier this week. The website isn’t finished, but we felt it was at a point where we could make it live and then continue to add to it over the coming months. Work has been going on in the background for the last six months, developing the new look and content. Thank you to all that have been involved in this development. 

We have listened to parent carers, young people and professionals and organised the information by age groups to make it easier to find and used more pictures and videos so it’s more inviting.

The new site contains all the information from the old one, along with lots of new content, which families have told us they would find useful. New content includes amongst others:

  • Information to help with transitions.
  • Where to go if you have concerns about your child’s development.
  • How things might change as a child gets older, so families can be prepared.
  • More information about the choices available for young people 16 and above.
  • Where to go if you’re not happy about something.
  • Information about EHCP annual reviews, particularly the year nine review.
  • Preparing for Adulthood outcomes, what they are and tools to help with planning.

Some content is replicated across all the age sections, because it’s relevant no matter what the age of the child or young person, and then other information is age specific.

Work on developing the site is continuing and we want it to be a useful space for families to help them and answer their questions. We’re keen to hear from you about what you think about the new look, what you find useful and what else, if anything, you’d like to see.

You can get in touch using the Local Offer email which appears on the front page of the site: localoffer@worcschildrenfirst.org.uk.

You can visit the new site here: SEND Local Offer.

Mel Barnett – Director for All-Age Disability

SEND APP review – September 2023

On 27 September 2023, officials from Department for Education SEND and NHS England reviewed the progress we have made against our Accelerated Progress Plan (APP) over the last eighteen months and recognised the range of actions that have been put in place to continue and accelerate improvement in SEND services for children and young people in Worcestershire.

For more information and to read their review letter in full, please visit our SEND Improvement Plan webpage and select the first drop down: SEND Improvement Plan - Local Offer

New parent carer page on Inclusion Support Services website

Inclusion Support Services have added a new page on their website which will start to include information for parent/carers about their services Information for parent/carers. It is in development, and currently has information about frequently asked questions regarding Educational Psychology statutory assessments and information about an online ‘drop in’ service where parent/carers can speak with an Educational Psychologist or a member of the Complex Communication Needs Team.

The Inclusion Support Service are keen to make this relevant for parent/carers, so if you would like to be part of an online conversation about what you would like to see, please email: EdPsychology@worcschildrenfirst.org.uk  and put “website” in the subject heading.  The focus group will take place on Tuesday 5 December between 5:00pm and 6:00pm via MS Teams.

Early Years Inclusion Process

In the August edition of this newsletter we told you about the work which was going on to review the functions of the Pre-School Forum (PSF) (the information sharing and advice relating to health and education), and as a result, a new Early Years Inclusion Process (EYIP) was being co-developed. 

The new Early Years Inclusion Process has now been launched and it is designed to make sure the right professionals put the right support in place for your child.

If you think your child needs some extra help to start school or nursery, speak to your GP, Health Visitor or early education worker (e.g. nursery or childminder).

You can find out more about the EYIP on the SEND Local Offer here: Early Years Inclusion Process where you will find an information sheet for parents and carers to download.

Free training for schools around masking and sensory needs from the Autism/CCN Team

The Autism/CCN team are offering FREE online training to Worcestershire schools around the complex issues of masking and sensory needs.

Masking and autism is a 90-minute INSET opportunity which covers:

  • What is masking?
  • Key strategies to help children who may be masking
  • Examples of strategies

Each delegate will:

  • Learn about a range of strategies and resources to support young people who may be masking.
  • Learn how to practically apply a range of proactive strategies.

Understanding and Supporting Sensory Processing Differences in the Classroom comprises of two sessions (an hour each) and will cover:

  • Key sensory processing differences in autistic children and young people and how this may present in a school setting.
  • The importance of sensory differences.
  • Strategies and tools to gather information and make reasonable adjustments.                                                                                      

Delegates will

  • Have an understanding of sensory processing in individuals and its impact upon them.
  • Understand how sensory overload can present in school settings.
  • Be able to use sensory audits to ascertain information about the school environment and the individual pupil to inform reasonable adjustments.
  • Explore a sensory toolkit of resources to help support sensory differences.

News from Worcestershire libraries about Study Happy, Reading Well and Young Poet Laureate

Study Happy, is about helping students, particularly those studying for school, college or university exams, to reach their academic goals while also prioritising their wellbeing. 

With Study Happy, students have access at all Worcestershire Libraries, including The Hive, to free study spaces, computers, resources and WiFi to help them ace their exams and stay on top of their coursework. Find out more at Study Happy

Worcestershire libraries have events running throughout the year, including lots for children and young people, including things Dungeons and Dragons and board games clubs, find out more here: Library events and activities.

Reading Well is a collection of books which provide information and support for managing mental health and wellbeing for children, young people and adults. The books are recommended and endorsed by health experts, as well as by people living with the conditions, and the relatives and carers supporting them. You can find out more here: Reading well.

Worcestershire Young Poet Laureate is run jointly by Severn Arts and Worcestershire Libraries, celebrating the talented voices of young local poets by inviting them to submit their written poetry for the opportunity to perform at the Young Poet Laureate final. To find out more: Young Poet Laureate.

The Big Ambition

The Children’s Commissioner for England has launched ‘The Big Ambition’ to hear directly from children, young people and parents across the country.

They want to hear from all children, young people and families across the country about what is important to them ahead of the general election. It is a chance for children and young people to tell key policymakers what is important and have their needs reflected in the decisions that will affect them in years to come.

The survey is open to children and young people in England aged 0 to 18 years old. Parents are being encouraged to complete the survey for those who may need additional support or on behalf of younger children (under 6) to make sure the needs of early years children are represented too.

To find out more and take part: The Big Ambition | Children's Commissioner for England

AAD Newsletter – October 2023

Welcome to the October All Age Disability Newsletter

Hi, welcome to the October edition of the All-Age Disability (0 to 25 years) Newsletter. This month we have Mel Barnett’s update, news about our SEND Strategy, along with articles from the Autism/CCN and Deaf & Hearing Impairment teams. We also have details about some feedback sessions for parent carer to give us their views on the new style SEND Local Offer, which launches soon, along with information about Worcestershire Life Beyond School Inclusive Careers Event on the 25 October.

Update from Mel Barnett

In the August Newsletter I updated on the involvement that Worcestershire would have in the SEND and Alternative Provision Change Programme Partnership. The launch took place in London on 19 September 2023.  There were a total of 12 representatives from the 4 Local Authorities, in the West Midlands, who are part of this programme i.e. Telford, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, this included a parent carer representative from the region.

The event introduced the reforms and how the change programme will be delivered. The programme is supported by the Reaching Excellence and Ambition for all Children (REACh) consortium, led by PA Consulting in partnership with the Council for Disabled Children, Olive Academies and IMPOWER. The purpose is to implement, test and refine the reforms introduced by the Improvement Plan.

An aim of the Change Programme delivery is to ensure that the voices of all children and young people with SEND or in alternative provision and their families are effectively heard and no group is disadvantaged in securing timely access to the right provision. The ambition for the system includes:

  • Bringing together key partners across the system to set out and publish plans for delivering an improved system.
  • Ensuring that Ordinarily Available Support is wrapped around Early Years, mainstream schools and post-16.
  • Ensuring better EHCP processes and improved support means more CYP with EHCPs choose to remain and do well in mainstream.
  • Testing some reforms alongside the development of National Standards.

The next steps are for the representatives of the 4 local authority areas to meet and plan the delivery in the West Midlands region. All updates will be added to the Local Offer.

Mel Barnett – Director for All-Age Disability

New SEND Strategy approved

Our new Worcestershire Strategy for Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) was approved at Cabinet on 28 September 2023. The Strategy has been developed, by the Local Area Partnership, for the period of 2023 to 2026 and will drive an ambitious programme of work to change how we work with children and young people with SEND and their parents and carers.

To read more: Our SEND Strategy

Joint working to develop awareness and understanding of sensory processing needs in schools and Early Years settings

The Autism/Complex Communication Needs (CCN) team in the Inclusion Support Service have worked collaboratively with the Occupational Therapy (OT) team (NHS) to develop a school based sensory environment auditing tool, which is being used by both teams in their work with schools. The OT team have had recent success in using this tool in a specialist setting to highlight good practice and identify areas for development and focus.  The Autism/CCN Team have used this tool recently in a local authority (LA) mainstream school to identify sensory challenges and opportunities within the school playground. 

Training in meeting the needs of children with sensory differences is being co-developed by both teams and piloted this half term, with more dates available through the academic year.  This training will be online and in two parts, one of which focuses upon sensory strategies and another which focuses upon using the sensory audit tool.  All LA maintained, academy and free schools can access this online training free as part of our commitment to improving practice in mainstream schools and settings.

Deaf and Hearing Impairment (DHI) Team Update

In the DHI team we are currently dealing with unprecedented numbers of new referrals through hospital audiology. This is due in part to a national issue affecting some Audiology departments of which Worcester Acute Hospitals is one. The issue relates to children who failed the new-born hearing screen and were called for a further follow up test at the time. This further test was in some cases misinterpreted and a significant number of children are now being asked back to Audiology as they were flagged as possibly affected. Whilst it is anticipated that the vast majority will be checked and discharged with no further action needed, it may be a worrying time for families.

If a permanent hearing loss is found as a result of the recall, then once families have given permission, the DHI Team will contact the family and setting to put in place our support.

Whilst the DHI team are dealing with this issue we might visit a little less often than settings are used to seeing us, but we are prioritising the new referrals and our children with severe and profound hearing losses.

We can always be contacted should settings have any worries or concerns about children who we visit, and the assigned Qualified Teacher of the Deaf will share their contact details with the setting.

Families who receive hospital letters for extra testing can also be signposted to the local national Deaf Children’s Society group, Worcestershire Deaf Children’s Society (WDCS) Home | My Site (worcesterdeafchildren.co.uk)

Your views needed on new look SEND Local Offer website

We have previously had articles in the newsletter about our work to update the SEND Local Offer website. Over the past few months we have been gathering views and feedback from SEND families and other professionals through online surveys and workshops about what they would like to see on the website and what information they would find useful.

Throughout the summer months we have been working in the background on the new look and content, and we’re hoping to go live with the refreshed site after October half term. Before we make the new site public, we would really like to get some more feedback from parents and carers about the way it looks and how the information is organised. We are not able to share links to the site because of the way it is being developed, but we’ve arranged an online feedback session for parent carers at 1:30pm on Thursday 26 October. The session will have a live demonstration of the site and we will be inviting parent carers to tell us what they think about the way the site is organised and looks. Places are limited, but if you’re interested in knowing more, please email localoffer@worcschildrenfirst.org.uk and we can send you more information and a meeting invite.

Development of the Local Offer will continue after the live date, and so we will be arranging some user testing sessions in November which will focus on different areas of the new look website, details of these will be sent out later this month. If you’re not able to take part in the October session but would be interested in taking part in any of the later sessions please email localoffer@worcschildrenfirst.org.uk saying November User testing. We can then send you the details and the dates of all the sessions and you can let us know which, if any, you would like to be involved in.

Life Beyond School Careers event 25 October 2023

This year's Worcestershire Life Beyond School Inclusive Careers Event is taking place on Wednesday 25 October 2023 at Worcester Warriors Sixways Stadium. 

After the success of last year's Life Beyond School event, which was well received and had such a positive impact for hundreds of local students, we are happy to be doing it again this year. 

The Life Beyond School event is for all students that hold an EHCP across Worcestershire or attend a SEND, AP or PRU school. It will give students the opportunity to engage with local colleges, training providers, employers, and local community services and to discover their next steps, in an inclusive setting.

Parents and Carers are able to attend the event throughout the day, you will need to register for tickets and an allocated time slot through Eventbrite.

Tickets can be booked here: Life Beyond School Inclusive Event 2023 Tickets, Wed 25 Oct 2023 at 09:30 | Eventbrite

We are also happy to share the latest issue of Life Beyond School magazine. This provides information and guidance on student's next steps in their life beyond school. The magazine shares case studies, local, inclusive providers and fun careers activities, to support local schools, students and their families. You can download the magazine here: Choice Magazine - Life Beyond School, Autumn 2023.

AAD Newsletter – September 2023

Welcome to the September AAD Newsletter

Hi and welcome to the September edition of the All-Age Disability (0 to 25 years) Newsletter. We hope you had a lovely summer, despite the mixed weather we had. The newsletter is a little shorter this month as it’s covering information from August, when things are a little quieter.

Update from Mel Barnett

I hope that you have all had a good summer break. In my last update I provided details of the National SEND and AP Programme which sets out the plans to change the SEND and AP system in England. As previously updated Worcestershire will be part of the Change Programme and will be one of the Local Authorities in the West Midlands that will make up what is now called the Change Programme Partnership which will: 

  • test, deliver and iterate key reform proposals

and

  • build capacity and capability and further spread the testing of reforms, through a sector-led taskforce approach targeted at local areas that need help to improve their practice

The partnership will work closely with parents, carers and children and young people to ensure they are involved in the testing, learning and development of the reforms. In addition, Partnerships will also receive extensive hands-on support and expertise from REACh (Reaching Excellence and Ambition for all Children), the Department’s Delivery Partner. PA Consulting will lead the consortium, comprising of IMPOWER, Council for Disabled Children (CDC) and Olive Academies. Regular updates will be added to the Local Offer. The national launch event will take place on 19 September 2023. 

I also want to take the opportunity to provide an update on the ASD Free School Application Process. As you will be aware Worcestershire were successful in their application for a Special Free School. The application process for interested parties opened on 9 May 2023 and closed on 31 August 2023. Throughout the Autumn term 2023 applications will be assessed and interviews will begin. In January 2024, the successful applicant will be announced.  The new Free School will be located in Malvern, on the site of the current Poolbrook Centre. It will be a Special Free all-through school and will create 120 places for 5 to 19 year-olds (Reception to Year 14) with Autism and will open in a phased approach.

Mel Barnett – Director for All-Age Disability

Good News Story

Archie is a young man of 24 who has services through the Young Adults Team in the All-Age Disability Service.  He has additional needs relating to Downs Syndrome and a hearing impairment.  Archie has always been passionate about kitchens, cooking and serving food to customers.  On leaving his special school in Worcestershire, he went to Foxes Academy which specialise in teaching young people with additional needs the skills needed to work in a kitchen and provide food services.

Following his graduation from Foxes he has been supported by Adult Services, along with lots of support from his parents and support workers to attend a variety of services that have encouraged and supported this passion.  He attends two community cafes which both support young people with additional needs.  He also volunteers at a care home by supporting in the kitchen along with another Community Café. Archie has been helped by the Supported Employment Team at Worcestershire County Council to build up his self confidence in these roles, and to maximise his employability skills. 

As a result of this Archie has been employed on a part time basis at a large hotel and has just been given his first contract with them as an employed member of staff.  This is a great achievement and something to celebrate - well done Archie!

The SEND Local Offer ‘Training for parent and carers page’

Did you know there is a page on the SEND Local Offer which has details of training opportunities for parents and carers? We have tried to pull together information about different organisations who offer workshops and training for parents of SEND children and young people. Many of the courses offered are either free or low cost and can be accessed online. You can find the information here: Training for parents and carers.

If you are aware of any training opportunities which aren’t listed here, we would love to hear from you about them, so we can add the details to this page. If you do know of any, please email: localoffer@worcschildrenfirst.org.uk and mark the subject line Training opps.

AAD Newsletter - August 2023

Welcome to the August AAD Newsletter

Hi and welcome to the August edition of the All-Age Disability (0-25 years) Newsletter. We are well and truly in the summer holidays now – though the weather has been mixed to say the least! If you do want to get out and about then we’ve included some links to websites with information about things to do.

SEND and Alternative Provision Change Programme

I hope that you are all enjoying the summer break. I want to provide an update on the involvement that Worcestershire will have with the National SEND and AP Programme. The SEND and Alternative Provision Plan sets out the plans to change the SEND and AP system in England. The full details of the plan can be found via the following link SEND and alternative provision improvement plan - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

I am pleased to announce that Worcestershire will be part of the Change Programme and will be one of the Local Authorities in the West Midlands that will make up 9 Regional Expert Partnerships (REPS). REPs will work with the Department of Education, the SEND and AP Delivery Partner and an Evaluator to:

  • test, deliver and iterate key reform proposals

and

  • build capacity and capability and further spread the testing of reforms, through a sector-led taskforce approach targeted at local areas that need help to improve their practice

A national launch event will be held in September and further updates will be added to the Local Offer.

Mel Barnett – Director of All-Age Disability Service

Update on the Pre-School Forum

Over recent months Worcester Children First alongside Stakeholders have been reviewing the functions of the Pre-School Forum (PSF) (the information sharing and advice relating to health and education).  As a result, a new Early Years Inclusion Pathway is being co-developed and will launch in early October 2023.  This new approach will fulfil the following purposes:

  • achieve positive outcomes for Early Years children and their families, ensuring needs are identified early and provision is in place to meet these needs
  • monitor and collect information to inform the strategic development of services across Worcestershire; to inform commissioning arrangements and to help address emerging service developments and provision planning
  • exercise the Local Authority and Health Authorities’ responsibility to ensure that children's Special Educational Needs or Learning Difficulties and Disabilities are identified and addressed.  This is done through its oversight and monitoring of notifications and of provision and services being delivered by multi-agency teams
  • ensure the effective operation of the multi-agency collaborative teams in working alongside children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and their families

More information regarding the Early Years Inclusion Pathway will be shared in September 2023.

Development of a Neurodiversity Zone on the Local Offer

We are developing a new Neurodiversity Zone to include AASD and ADHD for the SEND Local Offer.  Anna Swift, the Lead for Neurodivergent children and young people in the Herefordshire and Worcestershire NHS is working with both Herefordshire and Worcestershire local authorities to refresh their respective Local Offer websites.  The first workshop was held on 18th July with parent carers invited from both counties.

The first piece of this work is to establish what information parent carers of Neurodivergent children and young people, and Neurodivergent children and young people themselves would find useful and how they would like it to be presented.

We would like you to look at Local Offer’s from three other LA’s and tell us:

  1. what specifically do you like and not like about each of the sites? (Think about layout, language used, the use of videos, links to resources etc)
  2. what content from each of the sites you find useful?
  3. was it easy to find the information you needed, was it clear what information was in each section?
  4. what other content, if any (not found in these examples) you would like to see on the LO?

The three sites we would like you to look at are:

Bedford: Assessment and diagnosis of autism: what to expect A quick guide for young people and their families | Bedford Local Offer

Kensington & Chelsea: Autism Zone | Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (rbkc.gov.uk)

Kent: Autism (ASC) support - Kent County Council  Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) support - Kent County Council

If you would like to provide any feedback on this project then you can do so by Friday 25th August, by emailing: Jhughes2@worcschildrenfirst.org.uk

Woodland walk meetups for autistic adults

Autism West Midlands have started to run a series of Wellbeing Walks in Worcestershire for autistic adults. They are free to attend and are an opportunity to meet other autistic adults, talk to staff from Autism West Midlands and enjoy nature in a calm outdoor setting.

The walks in Worcestershire are on the second Wednesday of the month and there is no expectation to talk or socialise. They will be led by an Autism Specialist from Autism West Midlands who will be able to provide informal advice and signposting to services if needed.

You can book a place online and it’s for adults with a diagnosis or those on the pathway to being diagnosed.

To check out when the next one is, and book, go to the Events page on the Autism West Midlands website: Events | Autism West Midlands

Short break groups and Activities on the Local Offer

With the summer holidays in full swing you may be looking for things to do. On the SEND Local Offer we have a page dedicated to information about groups and activities for children and young people with SEND.

There are groups and activities open to any child or young person who has a special educational need and/or disability. Families can access these groups and activities themselves and there is usually a cost associated with them. Why not have a look and see what’s available near you?
We have made every effort to make sure all information held on there is correct, but we would recommend you contact the groups to check the information is correct before travelling. Worcestershire Children First cannot accept any responsibility for third party services.

If you know of any groups that are not on the list then we would love to hear from you so we can get them added, please email mdavies3@worcschildrenfirst.org.uk

Visit Worcestershire website

If you’re looking for ideas of things to do or places to visit you could look at the Visit Worcestershire website which has a ‘What’s on’ and an Offers section.

The site also has some useful articles about Rainy day activities in Worcestershire, Free/Budget Days Out in Worcestershire and 5 great summer holiday activities.

Please note that this is not a disability specific website, and some activities have a cost associated to them.

AAD Newsletter - July 2023

Welcome to the July AAD Newsletter

Hi and welcome to the July edition of the All-Age Disability (0 to 25 years) Newsletter.

Early Years Update

We have been conducting a review to help us to understand how we can better improve our early years offer.

In November 2022 Worcestershire Children First (WCF) invited mainstream and specialist nursery providers to take part in open discussions about the future of Nursery Assessment Units (NAU). At the end of November Worcestershire Children First also sent a questionnaire to providers and parent/carers for their feedback on what was working well and what could be improved.  The feedback received through this engagement has provided us with a rich source of information which has been invaluable to inform recommendations for improvement.

The purpose of the review was to:

  • re-model existing specialist nursery and nursery assessment provision to better meet the needs of pre-school age children in Worcestershire
  • review and redesign the way we are jointly meeting the early education provision for pre-school age children (0 to 5 years) known to Pre-School Forum (PSF), who have been identified by professionals as having the most complex needs
  • provide advice and guidance to mainstream early years education settings to support pre-school age children 0 to 5 years known to PSF

The review identified:

  • a need to consider the sufficiency of places, where children with complex needs, could access their full Nursery Education Funding (NEF) Entitlement
  • a need to redesign the PSF operational model

What does this mean?

We are developing an enhanced provision, delivered by an early years provider or school, which will meet the requirements of children whose identified complex needs make it difficult to attend an early years setting.

The places for children will be allocated via a termly, multi-agency planning meeting for children with identified complex needs. The needs will have been identified through an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment (EHCNA) or an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). 

Whilst this early years provision is being set up, we will continue the offer of Specialist Outreach support for children in their mainstream provision, or at home, for those children not able to access mainstream provision.  

WCF are aiming to open enhanced early years provision in Worcester City and Wychavon in January 2024, with the provider being awarded the contract in October 2023. WCF will then look at rolling the provision out across Redditch/Bromsgrove and Wyre Forest in the future.  

What’s Next?

  • we have developed a specification for the enhanced provision and have recently completed market engagement events. Providers will be invited to apply in July 2023
  • we are redesigning the operational functions of the Pre-School Forum and will communicate the outcome in September 2023 regarding the new operational model
  • if you have previously been informed that your child will be attending a Nursery Assessment Unit you will be directly contacted by a member of the team with an update

Pre-School Forum

Over recent months Worcester Children First staff along with Stakeholders have been reviewing the functions of the Pre-School Forum (PSF) i.e. the information sharing and advice relating to health and education.  We would like to provide assurance that although the virtual PSF meetings are no longer taking place, the functions of the forum are continuing and feedback is being provided for all children that this relates to, which will be in the form of actions and next steps.  There has, however, been some delays in the feedback being provided for several reasons, for which we apologise. 

If I have any questions, who can I contact?

Please email eyinclusion@worcschildrenfirst.org.uk should you have any questions.  We will also be creating a Frequently Asked Questions Document that will be added to the Local Offer and regularly updated.

Phone Surgery appointments introduced in SEND Services

In SEND services we are continually looking at ways we can improve our communication between the service and you, our parents/carers. We understand how frustrating it can be if you can’t speak to your case worker when you call due to them being unavailable because of meetings and other commitments. 

We are increasing the number of people who answer the calls in the first instance, and it maybe that they can answer some of the queries that you have. However, we do realise that in most cases you are looking for an update from your case worker. We need to ensure there is a balance between the time case workers are on the phone and doing their other case work, so we have introduced a new system which we are calling Phone Surgery Appointments.

The phone surgery system means that if you contact the office and your case worker is not available, a time for a call back from them will be agreed and booked. 

Case workers have allocated time in their diaries each week for these phone surgeries. Whoever answers your call will be able to see these surgery slots and discuss with you what is the best time and day for you. 

Once a time has been agreed details of your query will be taken and they will book a 15-minute appointment in the case worker’s calendar. You will then know when you can expect your call back and case workers will have the time allotted in their virtual diary. 

Wherever possible case workers should take your call when it is received, but this system means that if they are unable to then a suitable time can be arranged.

We hope that this new way of working will improve communication. The new system is being trialled until the end of September, and we will be monitoring its effectiveness throughout the time of the pilot.

Help with Fine motor skills

Many parents notice that their child’s handwriting is not as neat as they would like or expect and ask what they and the school can do to help this. It is often the case that this difficulty is not limited to handwriting but is a wider difficulty of core strength, coordination, and spatial awareness. Schools have many resources to hand which can address these areas and the teaching teams within WCF can support them with the implementation of these. But the Children’s Occupational Therapy service (NHS) have produced a range of short videos demonstrating really good ideas for parents at home. 

These clips can help to develop core strength, but also look at fine motor control skills that develop into handwriting skills. Have a look, as there are plenty of activities that could make up a simple workout for the summer holidays.

Pilot of parent/carer consultation service

Worcestershire Children First (WCF) Educational Psychology Service (EPS) and Complex Communication Needs Team (CCN) are piloting a remote consultation service, via MS Teams, to parent/carers who have a child or young person who attends a Worcestershire setting or who live in Worcestershire.  

Parents/carers have an initial consultation of up to 45 minutes with a member of either the Educational Psychology Service or CCN Team.   The offer varies slightly, with the CCN Team having a specialism in supporting families and autistic children and young people so if this is a primary area of concern, a booking will be made with the CCN Team.  The EP Team can support with a wide range of concerns relating to the needs of child or young person in their family context.  

Topics parent/carers can discuss or explore can include: 

  • how can I promote emotional wellbeing and positive mental health for me and my family? 
  • how do I support my child’s learning, social and emotional needs at home?
  • how do I support my child who is anxious or worried?
  • how do I promote positive behaviour in the home context?
  • how can I support positive relationships in my family?
  • what can I do as a parent/carer to support my child or young person through transitions?

The pilot is running between June and July, with the set number of consultations fully booked during this time.  This has been trialled through a soft launch via Starting Well, SENDIASS and Early Help pathways.

We will be evaluating this work in July and will consider how to sustain this offer, as it is a distinct offer for parents/carers and is not an extension of our work in schools.

Preparing for Adulthood section on the SEND Local Offer

We have been holding workshops to co -produce a new look section of the SEND Local Offer, to provide information and support around “Preparing for Adulthood” aimed at young people aged 16+ and their parent carers.  

So far, we have had two workshops involving parent carers, young people, SENDIASS, FiP and other interested professionals, including representatives from the Educational Psychologist Service, Social Care and Health. 

These workshops were really productive sessions generating some creative and interesting ideas, which include having case studies, illustrations and videos within a larger content.  We will be using these suggestions to develop the new pages over the Summer and will give further updates once it goes live and invite feedback.

We also have plans to develop our Neurodiversity content on the SEND Local Offer. This will be co-produced jointly with Herefordshire County Council and the Herefordshire and Worcestershire ICB.  Our aim is to provide resources and support for young people and their parent carers with conditions including ASD, ADHD and Tourette’s.

HAF IT 2023 – holiday activities is now taking bookings

In last month’s newsletter we told you about the HAF IT! Summer 2023 programme. This is to let you know that HAF IT! is now taking bookings. This programme of holiday activities and food clubs, for children who receive free school meals (FSM).  Children who are not eligible for Free School Meals can be referred for a place on the HAF programme by schools, social workers, HAF providers and other professionals. Please be aware that referred places are very limited and not guaranteed for non-FSM eligible children.  

All HAF activity clubs are inclusive of children with special educational needs and disabilities. There are also some specialised SEND clubs available; these are run by providers with specialised staff and facilities and include adapted activities. To find these, type ‘SEND’ into the keyword search. Parents and carers are invited to contact providers directly to discuss suitability of clubs and contact details can be found on all activity information pages found on the HAF booking system.  You can browse activities by map, calendar, or list.   

Sign up to the booking system now, and subject to eligibility, your account will be automatically credited with 16 free passes per registered child, representing 16 days’ worth of exciting activities across the summer holiday – subject to availability.  Please take care on sign up to provide as much information about your child to providers – it’s important that they have this to best support and safeguard your child. You will only need to complete this information once as it can then be resubmitted for each booking and subsequent holidays – with the facility to update any changes.    

If your child does not receive Free School Meals, please contact providers listed on the HAF booking system directly to request a referral to book or ask your school to contact enquiries@hafworcestershire.co.uk with your name and contact information. We can then help you book your free places on the programme.   

The programme is funded by the Department for Education (DfE).

Worcestershire libraries summer reading challenge

The national Summer Reading Challenge is the UK’s biggest free reading for pleasure programme for children. Taking place annually, the Challenge encourages children aged 4 to 11 to keep reading during the summer holidays.

The ‘Ready, Set, Read!’ Summer Reading Challenge launched on 8 July and runs until September 2023.

Each year, the Summer Reading Challenge has a new theme. This year, The Reading Agency have teamed up with the Youth Sport Trust to create ‘Ready, Set, Read!’, a Challenge that’s all about sports and games. Children will join a fictional team and their animal mascots as they use their skills to weave their way through a summer obstacle course. 

Worcestershire library staff are on hand throughout the summer to help with book selection, provide encouragement and host events for children based on the Sports and Games theme. You can find out more here Summer Reading Challenge or visit your local library.

AAD Newsletter - June 2023

Welcome to the June AAD Newsletter

Hi and welcome to the second edition of the All-Age Disability (AAD) Newsletter. We hope you find it interesting.

Worcestershire’s Draft SEND Strategy published

The draft updated Worcestershire Strategy for Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) has been developed, by the Local Area Partnership, for the period of 2023 to 2026. This will be presented to Cabinet for final approval on 28 September 2023. 

The strategy will drive an ambitious programme of work overseen by the All-Age Disability and SEND Partnership Board to change how we work with children and young people with SEND and their parents and carers.  The strategy sets out the vision that: 

'In Worcestershire we want all children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities to be truly seen and respected as individuals and to be the best they can be'. 

To deliver this vision, six strategic priorities have been identified based on what parent carers, children, young people and professionals have told us is important.

These priorities are:

  • dentification and assessment of SEND is timely and effective
  • there is sufficient and effective SEND provision
  • there is awareness and understanding of SEND within local communities
  • outcomes for young people with SEND are improved as a result of effective planning, preparation for adulthood and better coordination of service delivery to ensure positive transitions as they progress through their education
  • CYP with autism achieve positive outcomes and the support required to enable this is in place
  • emotional health and wellbeing is actively promoted for CYP with SEND and their families and effective targeted and specialist support is available for those CYP at risk of, or experiencing difficulties

You can download the strategy here: SEND Strategy 2023-2026 (SEND Local Offer)

SEND Accelerated Progress Plan (APP) review

Following a review of the progress made against our Accelerated Progress Plan (APP), officials from DfE SEND and NHS England have recognised the vast amount of work that has taken place to continue and accelerate improvement in our SEND service.

In March 2023, officials from DfE SEND and NHS England reviewed the progress we have made against our Accelerated Progress Plan (APP).

Officials reported that the local area has a tangible commitment from stakeholders, willing to build more inclusive cultures to improve its SEND services for the children and young people in Worcestershire. Based on the evidence provided, alongside feedback from partners, they said it was clear that a vast amount of work has taken place and that we had demonstrated the range of actions in place to continue and accelerate improvement in our SEND service.

As the improvement work continues, the DfE have asked to see further evidence how the local area continues to develop and embed the changes into our policies and processes to sustain improvements.

The next review meeting will take place in September 2023.

Read the outcome letter in full.

Requests for EHC Needs Assessments

The SEND Service has carried out an internal upgrade of our case management and information systems from February 2023. This now includes an easier and more secure way, via the Worcestershire Children First (WCF) Portal, for schools and parents to submit requests for EHC Needs Assessments and for submitting Annual Review paperwork.

For parents/carers, this upgrade should provide an easier and more secure platform to communicate with the SEND Service. You will also be able to see updates and/or progress of your Child’s Assessment and life cycle of their EHCP.

If your child/young person already has an EHCP, then we will be in contact over the coming months to invite you to set up an individual user account, to give you access to the new Parent Portal.

Request can be made here: Request for EHC Needs Assessment

We have produced a step-by-step guide to this new EHCP Assessment process, and how to use the portal.

They can be downloaded here: 

Free Online Transition Resources for Schools and Early Years

A range of downloadable resources to support transition between settings and within settings, for autistic learners and others with enhanced transition needs.

Worcestershire Children First Autism/CCN team website have a range of downloadable (and editable) resources to support transition between settings (Early Years to Primary, Primary to High etc.) and within settings, for autistic learners and others with enhanced transition needs.

The resources can be used at home to help support your children during transition and they can be adapted to suit and help to make transition more planned and successful.

Resources include; Pupil passports, Sensory profiles, School information booklets, Calming strategies etc.

You can find them halfway down the webpage, under the Resource: School Transition section.

HAF IT 2023 – holiday activities

HAF IT! 2023 is a fantastic programme of holiday activities and food clubs running in Worcestershire, for children who receive free school meals (FSM).  Children who are not eligible for Free School Meals can be referred for a place on the HAF programme by schools, social workers, HAF providers and other professionals. Please be aware that referred places are very limited and not guaranteed for non-FSM eligible children. 

All HAF activity clubs are inclusive of children with special educational needs and disabilities. We also have some specialised SEND clubs available; these are run by providers with specialised staff and facilities and include adapted activities. To find these, type ‘SEND’ into the keyword search. Parents and carers are invited to contact providers directly to discuss suitability of clubs and contact details can be found on all activity information pages found on the HAF booking system . You can browse activities by map, calendar, or list. 

Sign up to the booking system now, and subject to eligibility, your account will be automatically credited with 16 free passes per registered child, representing 16 days’ worth of exciting activities across the summer holiday – subject to availability.  Please take care on sign up to provide as much information about your child to providers – it’s important that they have this to best support and safeguard your child. You will only need to complete this information once as it can then be resubmitted for each booking and subsequent holidays – with the facility to update any changes.  

If your child does not receive Free School Meals, please contact providers listed on the HAF booking system directly to request a referral to book or ask your school to contact enquiries@hafworcestershire.co.uk with your name and contact information. We can then help you book your free places on the programme. 

The programme is funded by the Department for Education (DfE).

New style Directories with some brand-new entries on the Local Offer

Did you know the SEND Local Offer has information about parent support groups, short breaks and activities and useful websites? We have directories with the information, and, for the groups, you can search for what’s available in your area.

We have recently updated all the directories and if there’s something missing that you think others would find useful, please get in touch (my email is at the end of the article), and I can get it added. 

We have recently added details about a new SEN group for families in Upton, and a charity which offers free bike hire.

Short break groups and activities

We have been told by SEND families that often their best source of information and support is other parents in similar positions. 

We have produced a directory of Worcestershire support and online groups which have been recommended to Worcestershire Children First as ones which other parents and carers have found useful. New additions include a group which Sight Concern run for parent/carers living with sight loss, or who have a child between 0-5 with sight loss. 

You can search for ones in your area and also look at countywide groups too. The information and  directory can be found here: Support groups for parents and carers.

There is also directory of useful websites on the SEND Local Offer, again we list websites we have been told by families are useful. You can search for locally based websites for example Autism West Midlands, national disability specific websites e.g. British Deaf Association, national websites covering all disabilities and website relating to SEND in education.

Useful websites and links (SEND Local Offer)

If you know of a group or a website you’ve found useful, and it isn’t included, please let us know and we can get it added. Email: mdavies3@worcschildrenfirst.org.uk

Things to do

Summer is upon us and with the longer, warmer days comes the opportunity to get out and about, if you can. We could all do with ideas about things to do sometimes and Visit Worcestershire and Worcestershire libraries have information and ideas. There are things happening both inside and out, some are free, and some have a cost.

The Visit Worcestershire website has ‘Explore’ and ‘What’s on’ sections, please remember that it isn’t a disability specific website but offers ideas for things for the whole family to enjoy.

Visit Worcestershire website

Worcestershire libraries run a whole range of activities and events throughout the year. The website has a search function which allows you to search by area, date and event type which includes family and children’s activities.

Library events and activities

AAD Newsletter - April 2023

Welcome to the All Age Disability Newsletter

Welcome to our new and refreshed newsletter. This will provide parents and carers of young people with SEND with news and updates within the service.  We hope you find it useful. 

Plan for New School for Pupils with Autism

We will start this update with the fantastic news that it has recently been announced by the Department for Education that our proposal to establish a free special school in Malvern has been approved.  The school will provide 120 full time places for pupils aged 5-19 with autism.  This announcement followed an application that evidenced the need for school places for children and included engagement and support from stakeholders including education providers, health partners, parents and carers and Local MP’s.  Thank you to everyone involved.

Delivering Better Value (DBV) Survey

As a Local Authority we know we can improve the outcomes for children and young people with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND).  The UK government has long term objectives to reform the system supporting children and young people with SEND, but these will take time.  The DBV Programme recognises the current challenges faced and will provide valuable, short-term support to Local Authorities (LAs), and the local systems supporting children with SEND. 

Worcestershire Children First is one of 55 LA’s taking part in the programme, which is designed to identify the changes a Local Authority can make to sustainably support children and young people with SEND.  The programme puts children and young people at the heart of the approach, and also wants to understand the experiences of the partners within the SEND system, including you as the parent carers.  We would really appreciate you taking the time to fill out the survey to help us understand your views and experiences of your child or young person’s education. 

Worcestershire: SEND Survey for Parents and Carers   

The survey close at midnight on 5 May 2023.

To find out more about the DBV programme download this document: DBV Introduction leaflet (PDF).

Parent Carer Engagement in Schools Toolkit

Members of staff from the All-Age Disability Service have worked together with a range of schools, parent carers from the SEND Parent Stakeholder group, SENDIASS and Families in Partnership to develop a parent carer engagement toolkit for schools.

Parent carers of children and young people with SEND have told us that they can feel isolated and on the edge of the wider school community.  We have co-produced this toolkit to help support schools to develop their parent carer engagement, and it includes a range of ideas, practical examples, best practice, and tools to help them.

It is designed to help schools reflect on their current practice and encourages them to involve their parent carer community in developing their engagement plan moving forwards.

While the toolkit is aimed at schools, it is available to everyone to read on the Parent carer engagement toolkit page - SEND Local Offer.  As a parent carer you may wish to have a look at it and then talk to your child’s school about working together to develop a parent carer engagement plan.

Inclusion Support Services Update

Educational Psychology Service (EPS): The EPS have continued to successfully recruit and from April we will have a team of 2 full time equivalents Senior EPs, 10fte EPs 2 Assistant EPs and 2 Trainee EPs.  This team continues to deliver professional psychological services across a range of settings and systems to promote positive outcomes for children and families.  The team have been working on a range of projects which include collaborating with the Virtual School, the Refugee Resettlement Team and Mentor Link; as well as providing Statutory Advice for WCF SEND Services (with the backlog now being reduced significantly so that there is no longer a wait for an EP assessment) and commissioned work in educational settings.  After April the team will also be working in collaboration with SENDIASS to provide single-session consultations for parents and carers – more information will follow shortly.

Sensory Impairment Service: The team provide statutory support to CYP with a range of sensory impairments and have just recruited to their post of Teacher of Children with Multi-sensory Impairments.  The team provide support to families and more information can be found on their Facebook groups (Worcestershire VI Children First and Worcestershire Deaf Children First) which is for families known to the services.

Learning Support Team: This service is commissioned directly by schools to help them meet the learning needs of children in settings.  This year they have launched a new Dyslexia Pathway for settings to follow to ensure early identification in this area, and they are just completing work on the Dyscalculia pathway with information being shared soon.  

Complex Communication Needs/ Autism Team: The team continue to support a range of settings in supporting Autistic CYP and those with social and communication needs.  Their Autism Champion training is supporting the development of knowledge within settings so that there are specially trained staff in settings who can support identify and support CYP.  The team have joined the EPS in attending SCERTS training which is an evidence based framework for supporting Autistic Children, and this will be rolled out to settings across Worcestershire later this year.

For more information on these services, please visit the Inclusion Support Services page.

Parent Stakeholder Group Engagement

We want to hear from our SEND families about their experiences with services that we, the All-Age Disability (0-25) service, and our Partners deliver.  We do this in a number of ways, including having parent carer representatives in our strategic meetings and workstreams.  Worcestershire Children First also has a SEND Parent Carer Stakeholder Group which is made up of a range of organisations who support SEND families across the county.  The group meets virtually once a month, 5.00pm to 6.30pm, and has a varied agenda which covers all SEND services, including health and social care.

The meeting gives the parent carer representatives opportunities to feedback about their families’ experiences, give views and opinions about what is working and not working, and they also share any information and updates that we may have with their groups.  All formal parent/carer groups are welcome to send a representative and there is an open invitation to join each month. 

If you know a group that might be interested in attending, please ask them to email sendimprovement@worcestershire.gov.uk to find out more.

Updating our SEND Local Offer

The All Age Disability (0-25) Service have been asked to look at the current webpages of the SEND Local Offer, as this has been moved onto the new Worcestershire County Council platform with refreshed graphics and easier navigation. We are now taking the opportunity to look at the way the information is organised and check content.

The SEND Local Offer provides information about the provision and services that families can expect to be available across education, health and social care for children and young people who have Special Educational Need (SEN) or are disabled, including those who do not have Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.  As a Local Authority we need to ensure that everything is included on the website makes sense and is helpful and relevant.  We would welcome any parent carers who wanted to be part of this work and thank you to everyone that completed the recent survey.

If you would like to be involved, please email localoffer@worcschildrenfirst.org.uk and mark your email Local Offer Refresh.

There have been some documents recently uploaded to the Local Offer and we hope you find them useful:

Good News Stories from AAD

Claire Cale, the Team Manager for AAD 16-25 Social Care Team was recognised by BASW this week as an “Amazing Social Worker”, as part of their World Social Work Month celebrations.  Well done Claire!

Worcestershire Children First are extremely Proud to announce that Bromsgrove Short Breaks Home have been rated OUTSTANDING by Ofsted. A huge congratulations to Bev Harris and her team who are committed to ensuring all Children and Young People have fun and the best care when they are away from home. 

And finally… we would like to hear from YOU! 

We would like to use the All Age Disability Newsletter to keep you up to date with developments and news from the service.  Please get in touch if you have any suggestions for future additions by emailing mdavies3@worcschildrenfirst.org.uk

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