Annual Report 2020 – 2021
The North Lincolnshire Special Educational Needs and Disability Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) provides free confidential, impartial advice and support to children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and their parents and carers. Special Educational Needs legislation and the SEN Code of Practice states that all local authorities have to provide impartial SEND information, advice and support for families.
The SENDIASS is provided on behalf of North Lincolnshire Council.
Our annual self-assessment against the Minimum Standards demonstrates how we continue to meet the requirements.
Key Strengths and Achievements
From the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the team quickly adapted practice and embraced new ways of working. This has enabled children, young people and their families to have continued access to support and advice.
Promoting the service and the local support available through our social media platforms has been a key priority. As a result families had the information that they needed at their fingertips.
We improved outcomes for children and young people with SEND and their families by:
• Embedding an empowerment approach, promoting self-help and enabling.
• Increasing the online presence, promoting easy access to SEN/D information.
• Making sure the views of children, young people and families were at the centre of what we do.
• Developing positive networks with local services and schools, which assisted in improving the relationships between families and these agencies.
• Reducing family’s involvement in dispute processes that can be stressful and complex, promoting communication between services and families.
The empowerment approach
The SENDIASS empowerment approach sets out the key features of our practice which, where possible, supports families to find their own solutions. This is through access to quality online information, early signposting to help within the community and helping families to contact specific services when needed.
Sometimes more in-depth support is required, such as advocacy support. Working with families, we aim to build their resilience and confidence, and enable independence from services. We do this by:
• Making sure that our information and resources are available and accessible online.
• Promoting positive SEND messages across partner agencies and communities.
• Encouraging parents, carers and young people to self-advocate, by providing reassurance and feedback throughout our involvement.
• Sharing information at the earliest opportunity, enabling parents, carers and professionals to be able to support young people.
• Raising awareness of key issues and local emerging themes.
• Making best use of virtual and face to face communication ensuring the service is accessible to all.
Referrals and Activity
New requests for service
Between the period 1 September 2020 to 31 August 2021, the SENDIASS received a total of 257 new requests for information, advice and support.
Nationally referrals to SENDIASS’s increased throughout the pandemic. Locally referrals increased during our reporting period of September 2019 to August 2020.
We saw an 18% increase in requests for service in 2019/20 compared to the previous year. This increase was mainly during the first six months of the pandemic (March to August 2020). Requests for our service remained at this level into 2020/21.
We have seen the number of visits to the SENDIASS website and social media increasing since the launch in January 2020. This suggests that this has been a popular way to access information and self help online.
The SENDIASS categorises requests for service by the main area of concern. This enables the analysis of emerging themes and issues for families.
The information below provides a breakdown of the five referral categories that received the highest number of enquiries throughout the last year. Percentages reflect the volume of requests received under each category. Some referral reasons are grouped together here as they refer to similar topics.
The largest number of requests for service received were in relation to Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) issues, with SEN Support related enquiries receiving the next highest number of requests.
A smaller but significant number of enquiries were received for advice on and concerns about children and young people’s health and medical needs. For example, health and medical needs not being met effectively in education settings and for requests for information and advice on transition issues.
- EHCP related issues (Including plan content/ placement) 26%
- Pre EHCP – Support with request and Assessment process 19%
- SEN Support issues 26%
- Health and Medical 8%
- Transition issues 3%
In March 2021 the SENDIASS met all in-year targets. The Council for Disabled Children – Information, Advice and Support Programme, confirmed that external funding for the period between September 2020 and March 2021 would be received.
This related to achievement of the following outcomes:
- A revised, enabling approach to intervention is launched
- Resources to support self-advocacy are available to families
- A process is developed to Inform policy and practice
- The training offer is reviewed and refreshed
- More local services will access the SENDIASS training
- Joint commissioning arrangements were agreed
Enabling approach to intervention
The enabling approach to intervention, in line with the North Lincolnshire One Family Approach has ensured that families are receiving the right support at the earliest point. Most importantly, this approach has enabled many families to address their concerns at an early stage with low level support. As a result the SENDIASS have spent more time working with those families who require more in depth, intensive support or where issues are more complex.
SENDIASS website and social media
The SENDIASS website and social media has seen a continued increase in the number of visitors since their launch. The Facebook page has over 200 followers on the Facebook page and an average of 50 visits to the website each month.
Feedback from families and professionals on the new website has been gained through an online survey. Responses from the survey reflect a good overall level of satisfaction.
The information we provide online is continuously reviewed and updated in line with feedback. The further evidences our commitment to co-production with children, young people and families in informing our practice.
Joint commissioning arrangements
Working alongside North Lincolnshire Council (NLC) and the North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning (NLCCG) Group, we now have a contract detailing the joint funding arrangements and service specification.
Achieving a joint commissioning arrangement with NLC (Education and Social Care) and the NLCCG was a priority for the year to ensure compliance with the minimum standards.
Policy and practice
Regular meetings with service leads from education, health and social care have been established. The meetings are a mechanism to inform and influence local policy and practice. The meetings provide an opportunity to share findings and insights and to reflect on emerging themes.
For example, SENDIASS identified an increasing number of parental reports of schools encouraging self requests for Education Health and Care Plan assessments. Consequently, sharing this insight has contributed to improved information in schools and access to resources and training for parents.
Service User Voice and Engagement
Feedback from children, young people and families is regularly is gained to capture views and experiences on the effectiveness of SENDIASS. A new e-survey method of gathering feedback was introduced during 2020/21 which has improved the efficiency of collation and analysis of the information received.
Core survey questions
The Council for Disabled Children provide five core survey questions for SENDIASS’ to use and the survey results are returned annually.
The responses received locally are summarised as follows:
- 98% would recommend the SENDIASS to others
- 91% agreed that the SENDIASS were impartial or very impartial
- 97% agreed that the service was helpful or very helpful
- 98% were satisfied or very satisfied with the service provided
- 96% agreed it was easy or very easy to get in touch with SENDIASS
Since launching the empowerment approach, families have continued to provide positive feedback. This includes comments relating to increased confidence and empowerment such as:
“Without your help I wouldn’t have been able to do what I have for my sons, I felt more knowledgeable about what I needed to do next and what I need to ask about.”
“I feel a lot more confident and empowered now, I know that I have a right to ask questions about my child’s education at school.”
“My confidence improved and I feel better speaking to the school.”
“The website information was useful and easy to find.”
Monitoring and Assurance
The SENDIASS provide monthly performance reports to North Lincolnshire Council as lead commissioner.
Monitoring through meetings with the joint commissioners ensures compliance with the contract.
Internal monitoring is undertaken through:
- analysis of feedback received from those accessing the service;
- reviewing case work activity through case supervision and audit;
- continually reviewing compliance with the Minimum Standards for Information Advice and Support Services.
Activity is monitored via the SENDIASS Steering group which is independently chaired and consists of multiagency representatives. The Steering Group provide support and challenge to ensure the SENDIASS continue to meet the Minimum Standards and contractual obligations.
The feedback gained throughout 2020/21 indicates that the SENDIASS remains highly effective in meeting the needs of families. For instance, service user satisfaction is rated at 98%.
There is a continued increase in awareness of the service and support available to children, young people and families. This is a result of ongoing networking and the introduction and promotion of the SENDIASS website and social media presence.
Areas for development over 2021/22 include:
- To continue to develop relationships with partner agencies, raising awareness of SEND law and the rights of children, young people and their families within this.
- Developing resources through the co-production of a video, which will promote awareness of the service and increase engagement with young people.
An extended version of this report is available in a PowerPoint presentation. To request a copy please email email@example.com.