Working together with SEND young people

A teenage girl and boy taking a selfie smiling and laughing

Last updated: 24 October 2023

Our SEND information hub provides support and advice to young people (16-25) and their families.

It's our goal to give you (young people with special education needs and disabilities - SEND) the information you need to prepare for adulthood.

Our current projects

It's important to us that you engage, participate, and co-produce with us, so we will make sure everything is easy to understand.

While we still have a lot to learn, speaking with you has already taught us so much. We know that you need to learn to trust adults and professionals, and we want to develop the 'trusted adult model'.

We'll build extra capacity into youth hubs across all 12 Kent youth hub districts based on how you like working with adults.

We shared our model with Kent Youth County Council, and they already have some great ideas.

Let us know if you want more info about the SEND youth participation plan by emailing

Young reporters visited 7 different youth hubs in Kent, engaging with young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and social, emotional, and mental health (SEMH) needs.

Young people (you) were asked about 7 main topics based on the Kent CYP Outcomes Framework:

  • Learning
  • Future
  • Safety
  • Community
  • Quality of life
  • Voice
  • Health

Activities including brainstorms, quizzes and games allowed young people (you) to:

  • build your confidence
  • feel empowered
  • share your opinions and ideas.

Through creating a video, you shared your own life and experiences and were involved in script writing, filming and reporting.

You also highlighted how:

  • youth hubs and charities help you to build support and trusting relationships
  • your family listening to you is important
  • extracurricular activities help you to build friendships
  • some school councils support you to share your views and have ownership over aspects of your life
  • you feel there is a lack of consistency in your involvement in your education, health and care (EHC) plans
  • there is a lack of support by mental health services, with long waiting lists.

As a group, you shared some ideas, including involving young people with SEND and SEMH in training professionals and other young people in schools and youth hubs.

This project is in its final editing stages and we hope to finish by mid-July 2023.

Following the work carried out in the Young person's letter project, our Assistant Educational Psychologists (AEPs) asked young people at special schools and colleges about their experiences of being:

  • supported
  • included
  • heard.

Questions asked by the AEPs were the same or very similar with those asked in the Young Reporters project, to allow your voice to be heard.

With your permission, some of you were recorded on video answering these questions. Your answers will be turned into an animated video to help mainstream schools to be more inclusive.

Past projects you've helped with

You've already helped us shape our service for the better, and we want to say thank you. Here's how you've helped us and other young people so far:

Alongside our partners, we worked with you to create the preparation for adulthood (PfA) core standards.

The standards are there to provide guidance for your education settings to support you and your family when you move into adulthood.

Find out more about the PfA standards.

You helped us to create the SEND co-production charter.

No matter your age or disability, the SEND co-production charter is for you.

We wanted to be able to work with you as equal partners, communicating and listening in a respectful manner to achieve the best possible outcome for you and children with SEND.

The charter is split into five messages:

  • collaboration
  • accountability
  • ambition
  • communication
  • inclusivity.

Find out more and download the SEND co-production charter.

In 2019 to 2020, we spoke with 209 young people who took part in 14 activities. From the activities we found out you prefer:

What you told us What we've done
We want you to talk to us, we do not want to keep filling out surveys. We are now taking part in more engagement activities. You can come and speak to us either individually or in groups.
You should be greener, use less paper and be more environmentally friendly.

We have reduced our use of paper. We are using social media more to talk to you, your families and schools.

You can also interact with us virtually through Teams or Zoom and take part in discussions or activities online.

We want our voice to be heard in our education health and care (EHC) plans.

We want you to let us have our say about decisions of our lives.
You have helped in the new design of the Section A of the young people's profile in EHC plans.

This will help young people in the future have their voice heard.

To help support our engagement and communication with you, you wanted a role that would help to build that bridge.

In partnership with the NHS a new role was created to promote youth participation for the next 2 years.

Working with the National Development Team for Inclusion and with support from you, we have developed our preparation for adulthood section.

The preparation for adulthood section provides you with support with:

  • your education choices
  • future employment
  • getting involved in your local community
  • living independently
  • money management
  • how to find new friends, understanding relationships
  • your sexual identity
  • your health.

Alongside Virtual School Kent we have supported them to define inclusive education for young people in Kent.

We hope that by using your voice, it will help us to benchmark the countywide approach to inclusive education (CATIE) survey through a video explaining what good inclusion is in schools.

In 2021 through social media and our newsletter, we requested for your input to come up with a new name and logo for our Disabled Children’s Service 16+ Team.

A new logo was created by Alfie Jell, and our team are now called Strengthening Independence.

Sign up to receive our newsletters.

We wanted to find out what young people thought about our education, health and care (EHC) plan letters. Young people from special schools and mainstream colleges told us that they were:

  • “Difficult to understand”
  • “Wordy and too formal”
  • “Structure of letter quite confusing”.

We have therefore created a new easy read template of the EHC plan letter, which you've told us:

  • "I like it because it's simpler"
  • "It's got pictures, so it makes it easier to understand"
  • "I understood it all".

Our new templates will be rolled out from September 2022.

Watch our animated video to learn how we worked with young people.

The browser you are using is not supported or you do not have JavaScript enabled. Update your browser or enable JavaScript to view this video.

Young person letters project video transcript

We're worked with National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS).

NDCS is running a national project with Deaf children and young people in Kent to see if our SEND information hub:

  • has the right information for Deaf young people
  • is appealing to young people
  • works well for Deaf young people.
What you told usNext steps
Information on our SEND information hub to be more accessible to Deaf young people.

We have:

We will be:

  • adding and creating more BSL videos across our Deaf support pages
  • explaining what to expect from links before you click on them.
Promote the SEND information hub on social media more and across schools, clubs and health services.We have spoken to health and education professionals to ask them to support us in promoting the SEND information hub.
We should call it the Kent Local Offer and not the SEND information hub.We asked many families and the term 'the local offer' did not mean anything. We changed the name to reflect what to expect from the website.
You did not know what 'SEND' meant and you did not identify with the term.We have created a 'what is special educational needs and disabilities' page to explain what this means. This can also be found within our 'types of special educational needs' section, where you can find support from our sensory health services.
You want more images to be used as navigation options and better flow of pages.We cannot change where the 'home' button takes you, as the SEND information hub is part of the whole Kent County Council website. However, we are looking at whether we can add our logo to each of our pages so you can click on this and get back to our homepage.
Add interactive elements such as quizzes and polls.We cannot add these elements because of website restrictions but we do link to websites such as The Buzz on our local offer directory which have this interactive content.
Add Deaf specific section including clubs, assistive technology and BSL courses.We have added a link to our list of Deaf activities, clubs and support services from our Deaf section on the website.

Get in touch with us if you've been diagnosed with deafness, deafblindness or a vision impairment by emailing and we'll let you know how you can help.

About the SEND information hub

We asked the young people attending the SNAAP young people participation group to tell us their thoughts about the SEND information hub.

What you told us Next steps
There's too much text and not enough imagery. We have added more imagery and reduced long sentences.
It's hard to find the local directory. We've added a link to the purple banner at the top of the SEND information hub homepage, and wherever possible we've linked to it within the text of the page you're reading (if appropriate).
We should attend more career events. The SEND Partnership and Engagement Team have attended a range of events at education settings, including special schools.

We want you to feel safe in your neighbourhood.

We've created a page about your personal safety so you can feel safe living independently. However, we need to make sure we are:

  • covering safety information that you are looking for
  • presenting the information correctly
  • providing information which is appealing.

We will be working with young people who are on a Youth Offending Order, to support them as part of their reparation.

We attended a Kent Youth Voice meeting, where we presented the SEND information hub to members, and ran a session where you could give your feedback on:

  • the SEND information hub
  • local offer directory (filled with clubs and activities)
  • our merchandise.

We asked you if you:

  • liked the layout and look
  • found it easy to find information
  • thought it was accessible and appealing.

From your feedback we have been able to add imagery to our young people pages. We've also added a link to our local offer directory at the top of the SEND information hub homepage to make it easier to find.

Find out how you can also get involved in council making decisions and how to use your voice in supporting other young people in Kent.

The VSK Participation Team worked with a number of schools to organise focus groups for young people with SEND in their settings. This included:

  • two special schools in terms 5 and 6
  • a mainstream primary school
  • a mainstream secondary school
  • a large college group

Young people aged 7 to 18 shared their views about what their school or college does to help them feel included in the community, feel like they ‘belong’ as well as what helps to make them feel happy, safe and able to learn. All of their useful feedback has has been used to create a short animated film.

We attended a session with the SNAAP Your Voice Matters group and recorded questions about your rights, including:

  • what rights meant to you
  • if you understood these
  • if you thought you were treated fairly.

Watch our video to learn why rights matter.

The browser you are using is not supported or you do not have JavaScript enabled. Update your browser or enable JavaScript to view this video.

Rights for SEND young people video transcript

Have your say

There are a number of ways in which you can help us shape and improve our service for generations to come.

You can leave feedback about our SEND information hub (local offer) by:

  • selecting one of the smiley faces at the bottom of our web pages.
  • emailing Don't forget to let us know which pages you were looking at, or what information you want us to tell others.