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Spring Briefing: SEND & Vulnerable Learners

What’s new?

As you will know, there have been a lot of positive changes to the organisation of SEND in Newcastle over last twelve months following the reform of the national SEND strategy. This briefing is to keep you up to date with changes and proposed developments around SEND in the city.

The SEND & Vulnerable Learners Reviews have been taking place and these are now moving towards the final stages.

Reports on findings from the reviews will be available during the summer term and will be quickly followed by an implementation plan, outlining next steps and longer-term plans.

The self-evaluation process is ongoing and this will be refreshed so that it runs alongside the implementation plan.

In addition, a new performance framework is being developed and this will also form part of the monitoring and accountability process.

The SEF will represent the strengths and the areas of development in the local area, including education, health and social care. It will include examples of good practice seen city wide in schools and settings.

If you have any good practice stories to share with us please do so (contact details below).


New appointments

A new Head of SEND & Vulnerable Learners, Amber Burton, started in post on the 1st January 2018. Amber will be working with schools and settings to further develop high quality support and provision across the city.

Amber is keen to work collaboratively with schools/settings, children and young people and their parents and families.

The Assessment and Review Team conducts the statutory process for education, health and care needs assessments and reviews. This is an important area of work which is being strengthened by the addition of three new Assessment and Review Officers over the spring/summer terms. This will boost our capacity to enhance SEND case-working across the city.

School Effectiveness and SEND

The School Effectiveness SEND team offers a traded service and has over 15 years’ experience of working with Newcastle schools supporting and advising on the leadership and management of SEN to ensure children and young people with SEN achieve the best possible outcomes. Since April 2017 the team has extended their service to include tailored packages for Trusts/MATs or groups of schools.

Examples of support: SENCO networks, SEN TA networks, SEN surgeries and the production of the SENCO Guide. The team also offer support and challenge to schools using the Newcastle SEND review, self-evaluation framework.

This aspect of the service also supports the move towards sector led improvement. Two Lead Primary SENCOs support the team on specific project work.

SEND information report: The School Effectiveness SEND team, through SENCO workshops, have updated Local Authority guidance documents (SEND policy, SEND Information Report and Accessibility Plan) and produced a new guidance document for an annual SEND report.

The completed set of documents are for guidance only but, if followed, will ensure compliance with the SEND Code of Practice and SEND regulations (Children and Families Act 2014).

In addition, as part of their Service Level Agreement, the School Effectiveness SEND Team are currently carrying out website audits with written reports emailed to schools by the end of this term.

Governors: Updates in relation to SEND are provided for the termly GoverNews and through the Chairs’ Forum. Specific training for SEND link governors is offered as part of the annual governor training programme.

Information, information, information

We are now in an ‘embedding’ stage, following the implementation of the SEND reforms. We are also nearing the culmination of the SEND and Vulnerable Learners Reviews which will inform the future direction of SEND and vulnerable learners’ provision and practice.

We will be sharing detailed information about the outcomes of the reviews over the summer term, alongside other related information to ensure that there is complete transparency. To that end, we are producing a range of documents that will provide more clarity about SEND mainstream and specialist support and provision. Documents that will be available include;

  • SEND Mainstream Guidance: Following workshops in the autumn term with SENCos, and as part of the SEND review work, we plan to produce descriptors of provision that should be normally available for children and young people who have SEND. This will include the expectations that are placed on both the local authority and schools.
  • High Needs Support & Provision: This document will provide an overview of the specialist educational provision across the city. It will include school based commissioned services, centrally employed specialist [education] teams and referral routes.
  • High Needs Assessment & Review: This guide will outline the education, health and care needs assessment, including how requests for assessment can be made, how decisions are made and how panels work.

There will be updates on all this work at the summer term SENCo network, at head teacher briefings and the Newcastle SEND conference. We would also like to thank all of you who have been involved in the development of this work and those of you who are joining us in the spring and summer terms to continue that work; your support is very much appreciated!

Final word

Dates for your diary: To keep everyone informed about SEND and Vulnerable Learners developments, we are planning a SEND Conference for the summer term. More details will be available in March but hold the date, 20th June 2018, as we look forward to seeing you there!

Key contacts

  • Dean Jackson: Lead Assistant Director, Education & Skills
  • Amber Burton: Head of SEND & Vulnerable Learners
  • Sheila Kingsland, Senior Advisor for SEND; Jill Tough, SEND Consultant
  • Sandra Davison: Head of Vulnerable Learners
  • Philip Morris: Head of SEND Assessment & Review
  • Ann Banks: Project Manager for SEND

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Last updated: 24/04/2018
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