Please share this newsletter with colleagues and parent carers. If you know of anyone who would like to be added to the distribution list, please let us know.

The next edition will be on 18 May 2022, copy deadline 13 May 2022. We welcome your ideas for articles — please contact Kathryn Kellagher.

I am very pleased to welcome you to our Spring newsletter and to be able to share with you so many positive aspects of our work in a time where we are continuing to face significant challenges.

Firstly I’m delighted that after many postponements we are already taking bookings for our SENCO Conference and I am looking forward to meeting lots of you in person!

You will see we are highlighting the update to our SEND and Inclusion Strategy referencing a greater focus on the voice of children, young people and their families alongside working with health and social as part of our collective responsibility for improving outcomes. Improving partnership working is key to the success of our strategy and we are committed to working with all our partners, including schools and settings, to ensure that we are able to have an impact on the success of our children. All our strategy work benefits from working in co-production and we are very grateful to those who have already joined us in developing an Alternative Provision Strategy and hope others will be able to come to our Transition workshops, to ensure we capture the best practice ideas to support our planning and embedding of strong practice. As you can see Natalie, our Designated Social Care Officer, is a valued part of developing this work and the SEND Champions in Early Help are vital to our collective response!

Celebrating best practice is a key objective for us and we have a wonderful case study highlighting the impact of a Therapeutic Thinking approach from Thomas Bennett Community College which is recommended reading, along with the examples in our Celebration of Inclusion on Tools for Schools!

We know we are experiencing an increase in demand for services to support social, emotional and mental health, often evidenced by an increase in dysregulated behaviour, and you will see below a useful summary of the services available to support you.

In our drive to promote inclusion we have launched The Racial Equality Ambassadors PILOT scheme and I would encourage you to join us! Alongside this please read the information on ‘Raising Aspirations and Aiming High’.

Please also take note of the article from Sandra and her team who have contributed to the new VI curriculum to further develop the support for our children and young people with a visual impairment.

Finally thank you for your on-going support to improving outcomes for all our children and hoping you are able to enjoy some sunny, lighter days!

Bookings now open for the West Sussex SENCO Conference 2022!

We are delighted to announce that bookings for the West Sussex SENCO Conference on 16 June 2022 at Butlins, Bognor, are now open via West Sussex Services for Schools. Tickets will cost £100 to include workshops, lunch and refreshments through the day.

Please book early to avoid disappointment!

The conference theme is “Working together to make SEND everyone’s business, with a focus on emotional health and wellbeing, with keynote speeches from Andrew Wright, from Action Your Potential, and Amelie Thompson, Regional SEND Lead, from Whole School SEND.

There will also be a choice of two out of six workshops to choose from (pre-booking essential).

The workshops on offer are:

  • Understanding and Supporting LGBT+ Children & Young People. Led by Allsorts
  • A Guide to the Child Development Offer for Early Years. Led by Specialist Early Years Practitioner, Mid Sussex Child Development Services
  • Promoting Equality and Tackling Racism. Led by EMTAS
  • Introducing the Individual Support Plan (ISP), a graduated response template. Led by Maryanne Woodland, Educational Psychologist, WSCC
  • Journey to adulthood, focusing on transition points across education, health and social care from the earliest stages. Led by WSCC SEND & Inclusion Advisors, Natalie McNeill, Designated Social Care Officer and Rachael Lee, Designated Clinical Officer
  • What to do when a child or young person self-harms. Led by WSCC Safeguarding in Education

We will also have an extensive marketplace with a range of information stands, including WSCC teams such as the Specialist Advisory Teacher Service, Early Help, the Disability Register, voluntary organisations and the Virtual School, among many others.

What’s new on Tools for Schools

We are always adding resources and strategies to our Tools for Schools website and would welcome any suggestions from schools. Below are links to some recent additions that you won’t want to miss.

Visit our Blog page for articles on:

SEND & Inclusion Strategy update

Dyslexia Aware Schools Award

A celebration of the Therapeutic Thinking approach at Thomas Bennett Community College

Dyscalculia…what it is and how to help

Early Years e-learning modules — Free Training!

New resources have been added to Managing Transitions, found in the Child’s Journey section, on:

Transitions throughout the day

Planning for supported transitions for our youngest children

Team Around the School:

Graduated approach to services schools can access to reduce dysregulated behaviour and promote engagement for learning.

Purchasing additional print copies of the Ordinarily Available Inclusive Provision (OAIP) guides

Schools are continuing to buy multiple printed copies of the OAIP for their teaching staff.

In order to streamline the purchasing system, we are now selling these through the store on West Sussex Services for Schools, at a cost of £2 per copy.

You can also find the OAIP on Tools for Schools, where you can access a web version or download a PDF copy.

A celebration of the therapeutic thinking approach in a West Sussex secondary school

Thomas Bennett Community College shares its positive experience of rolling out Therapeutic Thinking Training to all staff in a Celebrating Inclusion case study on Tools for Schools.

The Therapeutic Thinking approach is a whole school ethos characterised by an inclusive culture, underpinned by best practice, policy and plans. Therapeutic Thinking uses a range of resources to analyse an individual’s behaviour in order to better understand the child / young person’s needs. This analysis then assists in better planning for the child, their class and the wider school or setting, to prevent difficult or dangerous situations from occurring.

We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from schools who have attended a three-day training course. Here are just some of their comments:

‘The tracking tools will give us so much more to support analysis and planning’

‘I can’t wait to start make small changes to make a big difference’

‘There needs to be more sharing of awareness of this approach. It is so important for the future of the children and young people in West Sussex.’

‘It has made me ask myself so many questions- thank you. This is going to help me improve our school. It has confirmed my belief in the therapeutic approach. Following other training we have done, I think a lot of our teachers are ready for this next logical and exciting step’.

‘Brilliant 3 days- feel totally enthused and looking forward to delivering to our whole staff at INSET in September’

The next dates for Therapeutic Thinking are:

3rd to 5th May 2022

14th-16th June 2022

4th-6th October 2022

1st-3rd November 2022

For further information please contact kate.southgate@westsussex.gov.uk, Associate Advisor, Learning and Behaviour Advisory Team

Updated SEND & Inclusion Strategy

We have worked closely with colleagues from SEND Commissioning, health, social care and parent carers to see how our SEND & Inclusion Strategy 2019 could reflect a more holistic approach to supporting children and young people with SEND. Following feedback, we have incorporated elements of the Joint Commissioning Strategy, in particular broadening our understanding of health and social care and how we need to better listen to and meet the needs of our children and young people with SEND. Click here to read out updated SEND & Inclusion Strategy on Tools for Schools and to find out more about our planned activities for 2022–2024.

Graduated approach to services schools can access to reduce dysregulated behaviour and promote engagement for learning.

This useful summary has been recently updated and is a handy reminder of the support and services available to support your inclusive practice, within school, locally, and from teams at West Sussex County Council.

It can be found on Tools for Schools!

Alternative Provision — working groups

As part of the SEND and Inclusion strategy, we are currently looking at Alternative Provision in West Sussex. Our aims are to reduce exclusions and have children’s educational needs met as close to their homes as possible.

In order to achieve this, we are considering how the independent and charitable sectors, school led projects and West Sussex commissioned Alternative Provisions are working and what might need to change to better meet need for the future.

Stakeholders have met together to share their thoughts and we have pulled out some workstreams which need further thinking.

  1. Primary provision
  2. Preventative
  3. Health needs
  4. West Sussex permanent exclusion

If you have views on any of these areas and would like to join a workstream, please indicate which one and email kate.watson@westsussex.gov.uk Thank you.

Transitions workshops

We are planning a series of events to gather views on transitions across education, social care and health. We are very keen to share best practice and to hear from schools about what they think are the challenges in transitions faced by children/young people with SEN and/or SEMH needs.

The workshops will run from 9.30 to 12.30 and will be at the following venues:

  • 11 May, Billingshurst Community Centre
  • 16 May, Field Place, Worthing
  • 17 May, on-line Teams meeting

This is an opportunity to gain an understanding of the different roles across the services and to have your say in shaping future policy and practice.

Please email Kathryn.Kellagher@westsussex.gov.uk if you or a colleague are able to come to a workshop, stating clearly which event you would like to attend.

This work follows on from our SEND & Inclusion strategy work on transitions last year, where we identified useful resources and strategies on Tools for Schools.

Racial Equality Ambassadors

The Racial Equality Ambassadors PILOT scheme was officially launched on 20th January 2022.

This pilot scheme has been created by young people for young people and is being led by members of the Youth Cabinet, working with the support of the Community Safety & Wellbeing team and the EMTAS team.

Racial Equality Ambassadors are student volunteers. Ambassadors will lead termly projects and campaigns within their setting, supported by interested members of staff.

Ambassadors will use their voices to speak out and raise awareness of the issues of inequality and racism faced by individuals who live in West Sussex and the rest of the UK.

Ambassadors will also provide support, comfort and understanding to those who experience discrimination or oppression within their school community.

Participating schools will receive a bank of resources to support the work of their Racial Equality Ambassadors.

Ambassadors will be invited to termly briefings to inform their work in schools. For example the launch meeting included three well informed presentations from members of the Youth Cabinet on colourism, white privilege and implicit bias.

The termly meetings will also provide an opportunity for schools to share the projects that they have been working on.

If you have students interested in becoming Racial Equality Ambassadors, please email: prevent.training@westsussex.gov.uk

Raising Aspirations — High Hopes for All Children

When working in education, professionals should be aiming to support all children and young people to have ambitions and high hopes for their future life and careers. This is especially true for professionals working with children from the Travelling community. There can be significant barriers and challenges for Traveller children when considering their future education and possible careers.

In 2018, 19% of pupils from Irish Traveller backgrounds and 13% from Gypsy and Roma backgrounds attained GCSEs in English and Maths at grade 4/C or above. This compares to 64% of all pupils nationally. Gypsy and Traveller pupils also have a high rate of exclusions and report high levels of bullying and racial abuse. (Cromarty, 2019). According to the Traveller Movement in 2014 only 4% of Gypsy, Roma, Traveller people aged 18–30 accessed higher education, compared to 43% of the same age group in the general population. We all need to carefully consider the issue of supporting aspirations, at all key stages.

Our experience in the Traveller Education Support (TES) team of working with children and young people from Travelling communities, tells us that the earlier we start talking about their hopes and dreams for the future, the better. It is important for practitioners to have a good understanding of an individual child’s starting point — to find out about their interests, strengths and hobbies. Often it is staggering to find out what the young people are achieving out of school. We hear about young people setting up their own successful businesses, driving diggers and learning through working with their family. Often, they are developing a wide range of experience and skills. These achievements are rarely recognised within school.

It is important to find out about who is important to a child and who may be a role model to them. This information can be insightful, as often the child’s parents may not have accessed further education or indeed remained for the duration of secondary education. This can be used as an opening, to support the child to explore pathways, consider options and broaden their horizons. It can also be a chance to explore the motivation for a particular pathway.

Often young people express that the biggest motivator will be the financial income that can be achieved from a particular job. The importance of financial security for the future of the family is key. It can also be used as a significant opportunity to re-engage a child with education, especially if they are beginning to disengage. Staff can support children to recognise the links between the curriculum being studied at school and job opportunities in the future.

Resources are available to support practitioners to develop their approach to careers education. The Careers and Enterprise Company has developed a range of resources for primary aged children.

The site offers a quiz to support the evaluation of a school’s current provision. There are also a wide range of free resources available, including lesson plans and case studies.

Universities are also looking at widening participation and encouraging more children to consider university as an option, especially those from families who may have not traditionally accessed higher education. TES has been working with The University of Sussex on a project to encourage GRT pupils in KS3 to consider the option of university.

Resources are available to support young people & parents Uni4Me, University of Sussex. Particularly useful, is a resource giving support around choosing GCSE options.

Colleagues may be interested to know that in 2019, Darlington Borough Council worked with young people from the Travelling community to develop materials around raising aspirations. A video was produced to showcase their work on this project — Aiming High.

When inspecting a school, the Ofsted School Inspection handbook states that inspectors should see evidence that:

There is high academic/vocational/technical ambition for all pupils, and the school does not offer disadvantaged pupils or pupils with SEND a reduced curriculum. (Ofsted School Inspection Handbook, Quality of Education, 197)

So, how can we all ensure that we are being ambitious with our expectation for all children?

If you would like any further support, please contact the Traveller Education Support Team tes@westsussex.gov.uk

SEND Champions Network

As part of our drive to raise awareness of special education needs and disability (SEND) and improve practice across all local authority services, we would like to celebrate the work of our thriving SEND Champions Network.

It is led jointly by Emma Bruton, Early Help Service Manager and Natalie Mcneill, Designated Social Care Officer, and they have spent the last six months actively expanding the membership and purpose of the original Network as set up by Early Help.

The SEND Champions Network meets every three months to share knowledge, learn from guest speakers and raise awareness of SEND. Some members are attending a SEND Champion Train the Trainer course and we hope to roll out training across the Local Authority. Our SEND Champions come from across all services: they include social workers, representatives from the West Sussex Parent Carer Forum, the Library Service and practitioners from Early Help, Health and Education.

If you would be interested in becoming a SEND champion or would like to share your work or lived experience, please contact Natalie by email on: Natalie.mcneill@westsussex.gov.uk

A Curriculum Framework for Learners with a Visual Impairment (VI)

It has long been recognised by VI professionals that in addition to the academic curriculum, our learners with a visual impairment also follow an informal, specialist VI curriculum. Historically, there has never been any UK VI curriculum or framework to follow. Currently, Qualified Teachers of the Visually Impaired (QTVIs) observe and assess children and young people with a visual impairment and work with educational settings and families to support the teaching of the aspects of the ‘VI curriculum’ relevant to that learner.

Understandably, the concept of a VI curriculum requires some explanation to those who are less familiar with the implications of a visual impairment. A VI curriculum consists of all the additional skills a child or young person with a visual impairment needs to learn; this could be using assistive technology, reading braille, or the using a long cane, to name a few.

In 2019, key stakeholders in UK VI sector recognised the need for a more formal VI Curriculum. Led by key professionals and academics in the field, a project to create a specialist curriculum or framework was proposed. Experts in the field of VI were invited to apply to be part of the project and make up the panel of experts needed as part of the process.

The West Sussex Sensory Support Team (SST) were delighted to be invited to be on the pilot panel working directly with Birmingham University. As part of this process, we were able to share the great work of colleagues from our West Sussex educational settings, Health and Social Care sectors and our families. There is already much collaborative work with the SST that takes place to ensure that our VI learners in West Sussex successfully access a VI Curriculum in their educational setting and at home where appropriate.

The Curriculum Framework for Visual Impairment (CFVI) was launched in March. The West Sussex SST are very proud to have contributed to this document and are looking forward to using the Framework to further develop the support for our children and young people with a visual impairment. Whilst this document isn’t statutory, the team plan to use it in with our schools, settings and families to ensure the best possible outcomes for our children and young people with a visual impairment in West Sussex.

Sandra Greatorex, Lead Advisory Teacher of the Visually Impaired, West Sussex Sensory Support Team

A year into being the Designated Social Care Officer…

How time flies, it’s almost a year since I wrote an introduction to the Designated Social Care Officer role!

As a reminder, the key focus of my role is to support and develop the social care elements of the SEND strategy, in compliance with legislative requirements of the SEND Code of Practice (2015), and ensure they are embedded within our working practice for children and young people aged 0–25.

Now a year on, I’m happy to report I am full time and permanent within the Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) Contracts and Commissioning team.

What a year, with lots done but also many areas highlighted to address.

Therefore I thought I would take the opportunity to briefly share some of the projects I have been working on with support from colleagues across Education, Health and Social Care and, invaluably, from parent/carers and young people:

  • Building relationships across services and linking key people/services together
  • Leading on ‘Journey to Adulthood’ pathways across all services and ages, which has started with a series of scoping workshops to gather information on transitions and to see gaps as experienced by our families and professionals (see article on transitions workshops above)
  • Helping to expand our SEND Champion Network across all areas (see article above)
  • Providing guidance to support social care staff’s understanding of SEND
  • Writing guidance to support social care staff with their contributions to Education, Health, Care Needs Assessments (EHCNA) and involvement with SEND tribunals
  • Developing social care workforce knowledge on Mental Capacity Assessment, by updating training and improving practice.

Some key projects for 2022:

  • We are pleased to announce the exciting news that West Sussex County Council, in participation with the Parent Carer Forum, will be hosting the first ever SEND Awareness Event. We would love to hear your views on what the event should be based on or if there any themes you would like to see. This is a great opportunity for us to work together to celebrate SEND and raise awareness. Please can you send ideas to Natalie.mcneill@westsussex.gov.uk. Lets make SEND everyone’s business!
  • Transitions workstream of SEND & Inclusion Strategy (see article above)

Natalie McNeill

Designated Social Care Officer

Some of the services listed in this newsletter or on the Local Offer site are provided by private service providers and not by West Sussex County Council. These do not have a recommendation or endorsement from the local authority. If you decide to use a service / provision, you should be aware that you are responsible for doing your own checks to ensure they are suitable and fit for purpose. West Sussex County Council will not be liable for any damages or losses suffered by anyone who relies on the information in this newsletter.

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