Improvements to the SEND service - July 2020 update

We take your feedback seriously and always look at ways we can improve our services and the information about them. We're pleased to show you all the improvements and changes we're making based on your feedback and conversations we've had with you.

Here is a summary of the improvements made between January and June 2020. For the most recent updates, please go to our you said, we did page.

You said we need to listen more

We have been listening to you – in one-to-one interviews, small groups, larger events and surveys – and your views have started to shape how we are changing and improving services.

  • We used the feedback parents gave us at our event in Canterbury for parents and carers of children waiting for an autism assessment to improve our second event – as well as access to support and advice.

  • Parents are part of a reference group sharing their experience of getting diagnosed with autism to help us improve this. They have welcomed the autism handbook, and they have supported our plans to include a triage point early in the diagnosis process.

You said we need to treat you as equal partners

Parents are an integral part of our improvement programme, from being part of the governance (attending lots of our meetings!) to working with us to shape individual projects.

  • Our staff have had some training to learn about co-production best practice (known to be a proven way of working together as equal partners), followed by a session that included parents and young people to develop a shared understanding of what genuine co-production looks like.

You said we need to communicate better with you

We need to improve the way we communicate with parents – from the information we publish on our website through to the correspondence we send parents. Our first step was to agree, with input from parents, some principles for how we’ll do this.

  • You asked why we aren’t using Facebook, so we’ve started using it (and our other main social channel Twitter) to share useful information for parents and promote engagement events. If you haven’t already, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

You said we must be more child and young people-focused

Young people’s stories are a powerful way to remind our children’s workforce (including practitioners and schools) of the daily struggles they face but more importantly the things we can do to support them to have the best experience at school.

  • We have created a more personalised EHCP template so that a child or young person can add their photo or drawing (only if they want) which sets out the child or young person’s special educational needs and provision as set out in SEND regulations.

  • We have worked with young people who have volunteered to share their stories AND do this in the form of animations! These are now being included in training for practitioners and schools.

You said we must be less adversarial and more compassionate

We are working with our managers and staff to develop the values and cultural change needed to improve the experience parents, children and young people have when dealing with us.

  • Following staff training, our complaint handling will be less adversarial and will focus on resolutions. We are monitoring the effectiveness of this over the coming months.

You said schools must be more inclusive

You said schools must support children who will have different learning styles and need different types of support.

  • We are working with schools, academies, nurseries and pre-schools to develop a Kent Inclusion Strategy which will set out clearly how they can embed inclusive practice in the way they do things. It will be accompanied by training and a toolkit that contains practical measures and ideas to support children and young people.

You said we should be providing better information, advice, guidance and support

We have already launched some new ways to make getting information easier for parents, and plan to continue working with you to find more ways to improve.

  • There is a new way for parents to find out what first steps to take, who to talk to and where to find out about support available. This was developed as a result of the conversations we had late last year with parents, who said this would have been useful to them if they were just starting to find help and support.

  • We have published an online form to make it easier for parents to request an assessment.

  • The autism handbook is sent to all parents with children on the waiting list for a diagnosis and we will be holding family events across the county later this year.

You said we need to improve waiting times, provide more funding for local health services, and to have better trained staff

We have looked for ways to manage waiting lists consistently and how we can support parents more.

  • We are looking at ways to make sure waiting lists for the Speech, Language and Communication Needs service are managed in a consistent way across Kent and to reduce waiting times. This includes investing more money for new local clinics and more training to staff.

  • We have supported parents and carers with children who are waiting for an autism assessment in Canterbury. We held two events, with presentations and talks on autism, education and health care plans and marketplace stands offering further information and support. Parents could talk to professionals about their experiences, and even bring their children along with them as we provided staff to look after them so that parents could attend workshops.