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SEND Improvement Programme

Dan Barton, Assistant Director - Education and Skills

Welcome to the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Improvement Programme web page. On the following pages you’ll find more information about the programme, how it’s being managed and what it’s doing.

The key document is our Written Statement of Action (easy read version). This sets out what we’re doing to respond to the recommendations following our inspection by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission in March 2019.

The Improvement Programme was set up in April 2019 and is structured around 6 working groups, each focusing on improving a different aspect of the SEND system. The working groups report to the Improvement Board, which meets every 6 weeks and has an Independent Chair overseeing the work and driving change.

We are committed to improving services for children and young people with SEND in Cumbria and we know that to do that we need to work hand-in-hand with parents and carers. We have parent and carer representatives on all our working groups and on our Improvement Board. We are embedding a Co-production approach. This means that we are making sure parents, carers, children and young people are included and consulted in all the work where decisions about services happen.

Any parent or carer of a child or young person with SEND is very welcome to get involved in the programme. There is a reference group of parents and carers, who help us to hold the working groups and the whole system to account, and there is an open invitation for all SEND parents and carers to join.

You can read more about the Improvement Programme in the sections below, and we welcome your feedback on all aspects of the SEND Improvement Programme. 

Dan Barton, Assistant Director - Education and Skills at Cumbria County Council and Lead officer for the Cumbria SEND Improvement Programme 

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What is the Cumbria SEND Improvement Programme?

Agencies in Cumbria are working together to improve the quality and accessibility of services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND). In March 2019 Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out an inspection of these services. The inspection identified a range of areas where improvements were needed.

SEND full report">Read the full report

Many of the findings and recommendations had already been identified by our teams and we know there is much to do to make improvements for young people in Cumbria.

The first requirement by Ofsted and the CQC was for the 3 lead agencies to produce a document called a Written Statement of Action (WSoA). The WSoA is a plan which sets out how we will respond to the specific recommendations made in the inspection report.

The WSoA does not limit us and is not everything that needs to be done to improve services. It is what we must deliver, but it can be added to as the project progresses.

How is the SEND Programme being managed?

The SEND Improvement Programme is being led by an Improvement Board. The Board includes senior officers and Councillors from Cumbria County Council (CCC) and the NHS as well as parent and carer representatives. The Board is Chaired by Linda Clegg. Linda is independent of both CCC and the NHS and has extensive experience of working on similar projects across the country. The Board oversees the whole project, ensures progress is being made and takes key decisions.

The work to develop and deliver the improvement activity is managed by 6 working groups. These are:

  • Understanding of local need
  • Commissioning and access to provision
  • Engagement and co-production
  • Preparation for adulthood
  • Emotional health and well-being
  • Special Education Needs (SEN) support

All working groups include representatives from relevant agencies, including CCC and the NHS. There are also parent and carer representatives on these groups (more about this below). The working groups meet regularly. All the actions that the working groups have agreed so far can be found in the Written Statement of Action (Easy Read Written SEND Statement of Action).

How we are involving parents, carers, children and young people

We are committed to working with parents, carers, children and young adults to improve services. Learning from your experiences is fundamental to ensure the right decisions are made about how services should change. The Engagement and Co-production working group is fundamental to ensuring that this happens across the system.

Any parent or carer of a child or young person with SEND is very welcome to get involved in the Programme. There is a Reference Group of parent carers, who help us to hold the working groups and the whole system to account. Any parent carer of a child or young person with SEND is very welcome to get involved in the programme, and the best way to do this is to join the Reference Group.

Cumbria does not currently have a Parent Carer Forum, as the previous one was wound up in 2019. The Reference Group is actively working with individual parent carers, children and young people, and various SEND support groups around the County, alongside the national charity Contact, to establish a new Parent Carer Forum for Cumbria. It’s hoped that this new Forum, once established, will become a strong and effective voice for families and will be a major partner with the Local Authority and the NHS in creating positive change for children and young people with SEND across the County.

There is a children and young people’s forum All of Us, where they are able to share their views and experiences, and contribute to the SEND Improvement Programme. Any child or young person with SEND is very welcome to get involved in the All of Us groups.

Responsible officers and working group representatives

SEND Improvement Board - Chair; Senior Responsible Officers and Board Parent Carer Representatives

  Name   Title
  Linda Clegg   Independent Chair, Cumbria SEND Improvement Board
  Dan Barton   Assistant Director - Education and Skills, Cumbria County Council
  Anna Stabler   Director of Nursing Quality, Clincial Commissioning Group
  Greg Everatt   Senior Commissioning Manager, NHS North Cumbria, Clinical Commissioning Group 
  Hilary Fordham      Chief Operating Officer, NHS Morecambe Bay, Clinical Commissioning Group   
  Cllr Sue Sanderson      Cabinet Member - Schools and Learning
  Cllr Anne Burns   Cabinet Member - Children's Services
  Amy Wheatley   Parent Carer Representative
  Rebecca Mullins   Parent Carer Representative

Working Group -  Chairs and parent carer representatives

  Working Group   Chair   Parent/Carer Representatives
 Group 1
 Understanding of Local Need
 Fiona Musgrave, Assistance Director, Partnerships and
 Integration, Cumbria County Council (CCC)   
  Rebecca Mullins
  Laura Nelson
  Clare Hewer

 Group 2
 Commissioning and Access
 to Provision   

 Sharon Simpson, Senior Manager, Children's Commissioning,

  Carole Woodman
  George Bell
  Emma Crabtree
 Group 3
 Engagement and Co-production
 David Blacklock, Chief Executive, People First   Charlotte Wight
  Amy Wheatley
 Group 4
 Preparation for Adulthood
 Dan Barton, Assistant Director, Education
 and Skills, CCC   

  Louise Coombs
  Karen Quinn
  Danielle Gaskin

 Group 5
 Emotional Health and
 Colin Cox, Director Public Health, CCC   Juliet Buchanan
  Hayley Tancred
 Group 6
 Special Educational Need (SEN) Support
 Mary Mulligan, Senior Manager Inclusion, CCC   Shirley Murphy
  Jacqueline Woodburn
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