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Find the latest updates about services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

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Early Years Specialist Provision Review and Plan update

In November 2022 Worcestershire Children First (WCF) invited stakeholders including settings, parents and carers and health providers to participate in a review and the development of early years specialist provision. An update and more information about the review and the development of the Enhanced Early Years provision can be found by visiting WCF’s Education review and consultation pages here: Nursery Assessment Unit Review.

Published April 2024

Update regarding some personal budget payments

As an update we first want to note that some parents have experienced delays in payments being received. Please can we extend our apologies again to those parents. We are pleased to update that the services which manage and process payment, has been reviewed to try and improve our timeliness. This has involved developing the systems as well as re-configuration of workloads and developing a system to support management tracking and oversight. 

We have reconfigured workloads to address some outstanding payments and we are in the final stages of developing a more effective electronic payment system. This will speed the payments process up, allowing much less room for error and ultimately provide a better experience for parents and providers receiving money from Worcestershire Children First.  

Published April 2024

SEND Area Inspection - Have your say

We have received notice that Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will be visiting Worcestershire from 22 April 2024 to 26 April 2024 to inspect our arrangements for children with special education needs and disabilities (SEND). The inspectors want to hear from children and young people, parents and carers, and practitioners about the help and support that children and young people with SEND get.

The surveys are accessible via the following link and will close at 9am on Tuesday 16 April 2024.

SEND Area Inspection surveys

Download further information about the surveys for children and young people, parents and carers, and practitioners.

Published April 2024

Survey asking for your views on the way services work together for young people moving into adulthood

Worcestershire County Council Adult Social Care Commissioning team are trying to improve their understanding of current services for 14 to 25-year-olds who may be moving from children’s social care to adult social care. This is to identify future commissioning needs across education, health and social care and improve pathways through services for young people and their families as they journey into adulthood and improve experience and outcomes.

The survey, which is open to all stakeholders, closes on April 22 2024, and can be found by following this link: 14-25 commissioning needs assessment survey.

Published April 2024

Groups, activities and short breaks

The Worcestershire Groups, Activities and Short Breaks have been commissioned up to June 2024; and this year we have joined this up with our Holidays, Activities, and Food (HAF) programme. Through this work we have ensured that we have commissioned a diverse range of provisions that are able to meet children and young people’s needs both in terms of complexity and geographical locations. 

We are committed to continuing to develop this offer to Worcestershire children and we will be seeking feedback shortly from parent/carers and children and young people who have accessed these services over the Easter holidays to inform the summer holiday provision.

We are aware that some providers costs have increased significantly this year, this has resulted in them having to review the number of places they can offer. Both HAF, Groups, Activities and Short breaks are open to SEND children and young people; we ask that parents/carers always check with providers that they are suitable for their child’s needs before booking a place.

For more information about groups and activities for children and young people with SEND see: SEND Local Offer - Short break groups and activities.

Published March 2024

Trust announced to run new Autism School 

The Department for Education have announced that MacIntyre Academies has been chosen to run the new autism school in Malvern. The Secretary of State for Education has written to confirm that the application from MacIntyre Academies to establish Enterprise Academy should proceed to the next stage of the free school’s process – the “pre-opening phase”. 

Working closely with Worcestershire Children First and Worcestershire County Council, Enterprise Academy will offer specialist education for 120 pupils aged 5 to 19 with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). 

The final decision to open any free school depends on the Secretary of State entering into a funding agreement (a legally binding contract which contains the terms and conditions upon which a free school is funded) with the academy trust proposing to set up the school.

Published March 2024

Update on new Autism Special Free School

A report will be presented to Worcestershire County Council Cabinet on 28 March 2024, seeking approval for the site and a 125-year lease for the new school. Positive progress has been made to find new locations for the current Poolbrook tenants, with relocations starting from Easter 2024. The Department for Education (DfE) are responsible for the delivery of the new school. Initial site surveys are completed, and more will follow once the site is vacant. The Academy Trust appointment is planned for Summer 2024. This would allow the DfE to hire a contractor in early 2025 to design the project and obtain planning permissions. With this timeline, the proposal is for construction would commence in 2026 and finish by Summer 2027. As a result, the DfE anticipate opening the new school in September 2027, rather than the original target of September 2026.

Read the Cabinet report in full: Agenda for Cabinet on Thursday, 28th March, 2024, 10.00 am - Worcestershire County Council (

Published March 2024

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, 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 16 April 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.

Published February 2024

Survey seeking experiences of transition from nursery to school

Worcestershire Children First is undergoing a review of the resources, advice, and best practice around transition for our nursery age children into schools. We are keen to hear from, and learn from, the experiences of parents/carers and settings around this important transition time. Please find below the link for the survey to gather your views.

After the review we would like to consolidate transition advice, celebrate good practice, and seek to improve the transition experience from nursery to schools for all children in Worcestershire.

The survey will close on 16 February 2024.

Thank you for your time.

Parent/carer survey link: Parent carer transition survey

EY setting survey link: Early Years transition survey

School setting survey link: School transition survey

Published February 2024

Successful Mediation outcome

Families in Partnership, Worcestershire’s parent carer forum, recently entered into mediation with two parent carers. The participants of the Mediation meetings on the 18 and 25 January 2024 are pleased to confirm the following:

“We had a really constructive, transparent and successful coming together. Following a full and honest discussion, there was agreement that we will be working together to harness the lived experience, skills and expertise of parent carers for the best outcomes for children and young people with SEND in Worcestershire. In particular, Berni Louise and Hazel Shaw join with immediate effect as full members of the Steering Group, and we will work together to deliver the AGM and a review of the constitution. We will update FiP members on our plans soon.”

Berni Louise, Hazel Shaw, Iona Walton

Published January 2024

Letter from Mel Barnett to Parent carer Stakeholder Group members

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 to 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 to 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. This 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 ones. 


Mel Barnett
Director for All-Age Disability (0-25)

Published January 2024

SEND Accelerated Progress Plan (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.

Published November 2023

Early Years Inclusion Process

Our new Early Years Inclusion Process (EYIP) will 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). 

Published October/November 2023

Find out more about our new process at: Early Years Inclusion Process

The Big Ambition

The Children’s Commissioner for England has recently 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 your chance to tell key policymakers what is important and have your needs reflected in the decisions that will affect you in years to come.

The survey is open to children and young people in England aged 0-18 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 (

Published October 2023

Life Beyond School Inclusive Careers Event

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

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.

This year, Parents and Carers will be able to attend the event throughout the day. They will be required to register for tickets and an allocated time slot through Eventbrite.

Book your tickets using the button below

Life Beyond School Inclusive Event 2023 Tickets

Published October 2023

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 28th 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.

Download: SEND Strategy (PDF)

Published October 2023

FAQs for Educational Psychology EHC Assessments published

Worcestershire Children First Educational Psychologist (EP) team have published a document of frequently asked questions (FAQs) for EP EHC Assessments. The document is designed to answer questions that EP’s commonly get asked during the EHC assessment process. Topics such as timescales, outcome of the assessment and educational placement are covered and information given regarding where to go for further information.

Parent carers and professionals can access the document via the Educational Psychology webpage, under the Information for parent/carers section.

The document can also be downloaded here: FAQs EP EHC Assessments September 2023 (PDF)

Published September 2023

National Advocacy helpline supporting the rights of children is changing

Since 2015, the Department for Education has commissioned a national advocacy helpline to support the rights of children to be heard. Since 2017, this helpline has been delivered through Coram Voice’s ‘Always Heard’ service.

From 1 October 2023, the national advocacy helpline service will be provided by the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS).

The details for accessing the new service (after 1 October 2023) are:

  • Website and online chat: NYAS Safetynet
  • Freephone: 0808 808 1001
  • Email:
  • WhatsApp: 07494788875.
  • Text: text NYAS to 85258.

The Coram Voice ‘Always Heard’ Service will continue to operate and receive calls until 30th September, details can be found here: Coram Voice.

The NYAS ‘Safety Net’ helpline service will continue the national provision of:

  • Helpline advice and support.
  • Signposting to local services.
  • Issue-based advocacy.
  • Specialist non-instructed advocacy.
  • Advocacy finder service.
  • Self-advocacy information.

The service accepts referrals from children and young people, professionals working with young people, friends, families, and carers.
The service will be available to:

  • children in care and care leavers up to age 25
  • children and young people needing support from children’s services, including those on child in need plans, child protection plans, or who are 16 to 17 years old and homeless

NYAS will also continue to support refugee and migrant children and young people, as well as young people in mental health settings.

Published August 2023

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.

Published August 2023

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 (0–5 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 0-5 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

If I have any questions, who can I contact?

Please email 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.

Published June 2023

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.

Published June 2023

All-Age Disability Directorate staffing structure

To keep our SEND families informed we regularly update the SEND team information in the document below to reflect any changes.

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