Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

How we plan to improve our SEND services.

1 Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) | Change and Transformation

As a council we are working together with our partners across education, health and social care, and importantly our families, to secure the best possible outcomes for all our children and young people.

Our vision is that all children and young people in West Sussex will, irrespective of their learning needs or abilities, gain the skills and confidence to live well in their community.

They will be supported and nurtured through an educational system that responds to their circumstances and prepares them for adulthood.

Every child deserves the best start in life and for our children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), this requires us to recognise needs early, to have the right level of co-production with parent carers and our providers, and to have the provision we require to meet the diverse range of needs of our children and young people.

The additional needs of most children and young people can be met by inclusive quality first teaching and reasonable adjustments from the funding and resources that are already or ‘ordinarily’ available in their mainstream school or setting. This is known as ‘Ordinarily Available Provision’.

The SEND Code of Practice (2015), links high quality teaching with ordinarily available provision: “…higher quality teaching ordinarily available to the whole class is likely to mean that fewer pupils will require such support.” (Para. 6.15)

What we are doing, in partnership, to improve services

Together with partners and stakeholders in West Sussex, we are working on six key areas which will support our ambitious SEND and inclusion strategy 2019-2024. This will ensure that children and young people enjoy positive outcomes and achieve their ambitions.

We have established six partner working groups to help make improvements in the following areas:

  • Mainstream and universal provision
  • Statutory or specialist provision
  • Leadership
  • Alternative provision and SEND sufficiency
  • Preparation for adulthood
  • Co-production and participation.

In addition to our improvement work to deliver this long term change, we were invited to work in partnership with other local authorities to pilot new initiatives across the county. This is funded by the Department for Education (DfE) Delivering Better Values (DBV) projects, and the work of the SEND and Alternative Provision (AP) Change Programme Partnership.

This work is undertaken in collaboration with East Sussex, Brighton and Hove and Portsmouth City Councils.

Additional information

2 Mainstream and universal provision


This workstream focus is ensuring that services and provisions in the community and education settings are inclusive and able to meet the needs of children and young people within the local area.

It aims to ensure that health, education, social care, community services and settings all have a shared understanding of, and commitment to, promoting inclusion with early identification and accessible provision for all children and young people aged 0-25 to secure good outcomes.

This work is based on the requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty (Equality Act 2010) and the SEND Code of Practice (2015).

The overarching aim of this workstream is to bring together work happening across education, health and social care to ensure that universal services are robustly inclusive so that children and young people receive the right support at the right time.

They should be able to access services (including schools) in their local community alongside their peers, thus reducing the need for an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) and/or travelling to services and schools outside their local area.

Improvement focus

The Partnership Working Group (PWG) focus is on promoting and developing inclusive practices across education, health and social care so that services:

  • are child-centred (Children First): all children and young people are listened to, and feel that they belong, are valued and accepted
  • empower children and young people
  • are strengths-based, enabling children and young people to achieve good outcomes
  • promote shared responsibility and accountability
  • are collaborative, consistent and joined up with services working together to support children, young people and families
  • prioritise early identification so that support is put in place in a timely way
  • focus on systems and the environment
  • are trauma informed
  • increase parent carer confidence in mainstream services
  • use shared language with a common understanding and approach to work.

Central to this workstream is ensuring that there is a shared understanding of the terms ‘inclusion’, ‘SEND”, 'SEN support' and the 'graduated approach'.

The SEND code of practice references a continuous four-part cycle of assessment, planning, doing (action) and reviewing with increasing support from specialist services to develop a thorough understanding of a pupil. This is known as the graduated approach (also referred to as APDR):

  • Assess: early and accurate identification of needs.
  • Plan: thorough planning.
  • Do: effective and timely support.
  • Review: robust reviews that feed into the next round of APDR.

A key aim is to ensure a thorough understanding of the graduated approach and how it corresponds to similar processes for assessing, planning and reviewing across education, health and social care.

The work of this group is wide reaching, bringing together colleagues from health, education and social care. It includes crosscutting themes of timeliness, mental health and emotional wellbeing, joint collaborative working and effective transitions.

It aligns closely with the Delivering Better Value (DBV) work, Improving Lives Together and the Early Years Strategy: Right from the Start.

This workstream is split into two strands: Outcome A: Early Years (0-5) and Outcome B: School Age (4-25).

How we will know we are succeeding

We will:

  • have evidence to show that children in the early years have their needs clearly identified and get the right help
  • see the SEND Under 5’s process working effectively and efficiently
  • see schools and settings using the Inclusion Framework consistently to continually improve their inclusive provision
  • have examples of the Individual Support Plan being used well to provide children and young people with high quality SEN Support
  • see a reduction in waiting lists for therapies and within the neurodevelopmental pathway with children getting helpful support while they wait
  • see a reduction in the number of inappropriate requests for education, health and care needs assessments (EHCNA)
  • have parents and carers tell us that they understand how their child is being supported.

3 Statutory or specialist support


This group ensures that local children and young people, aged 0-25, have their special educational needs and disabilities accurately identified. Services across education, health, and social care do this through the EHCNA process, if needed. They do it in a timely and effective way.

A priority is to ensure that an EHCP specifies the specialist help and interventions from relevant services. These are needed if a child or young person’s SEND is severe, long term, and complex. This means they require ongoing special education. It must be made, monitored, and reviewed in line with legislation.

Improvement focus

We will:

  • improve the education, health and care needs assessments (EHCNA) process, including robust decision-making considering strengths, needs and aspirations of children and young people
  • provide effective and timely communication and information to parent carers during the process
  • ensure that children and young people receive consistent and timely support while waiting for an EHCNA to be completed
  • improve the timeliness of EHCNAs
  • review and revise the Local Offer with children, young people, parents and carers.

How we will know we are succeeding

We will see:

  • most EHCNAs completed within statutory timeframes
  • a reduction in complaints from parents and carers
  • professionals supporting children and their families well during an EHCNA process
  • annual reviews managed effectively and responses within statutory timeframes
  • quality assurance continuing to inform ongoing practice improvement.

4 Leadership


We put in place an improved framework for governance and planning. It includes an evidence base. It helps us understand and analyse how well we deliver services for children and young people with SEND.

Managers are actively seeking to learn from practice and quality assurance activities. They also seek feedback from children and their families. They want to provide an environment where good, child-centred practice can flourish and get better.

We are making progress to improve communication and collaboration across the partnership. We are doing this by using problem-solving activities and wider engagement sessions. They will embed an ethos that ‘SEND is everybody’s business’.

Improvement focus

We will:

  • make improvements in line with the West Sussex local area SEND inspection by OFSTED and the CQC
  • ensure that the area SEND Governance Board, strategic leadership and governance arrangements are effective and promote our ambition for children and young people with SEND
  • continue to update the SEND and inclusion data dashboard, linked to our outcomes framework
  • review and evaluate joint commissioning arrangements of health providers to inform improvements for children and young people receiving SEND support as well as those with education, health and care plans (EHCPs)
  • review and evaluate commissioning arrangements for specialist school placements to ensure that effective plans are in place to meet future need
  • work in partnership to implement the Department for Education’s initiatives for Delivering Better Value (DBV) and the SEND and AP Change Programme.

How we will know we are succeeding

We will see the:

  • area SEND Partnership Dashboard reliably reflecting agreed key data for education, health and social care
  • information system to support the statutory processes of education, health and care needs assessments (EHCNA)/EHCPs and annual reviews efficiently supporting the management of the process
  • pressure on the high-needs budget reducing
  • number of specialist school places increasing
  • parent and carer survey confirming improved outcomes and better service experience.

5 Alternative provision


The County Council has a statutory obligation to provide suitable education for all learners including those who, because of exclusion, illness, or other reasons, would not otherwise receive suitable education; this is termed alternative provision.

This area of need is receiving significant attention nationally due to the variable practices and the increase in need for councils to secure alternative provision.

In West Sussex we currently deliver this requirement through:

  • commissioning placements at the West Sussex Alternative Provision College - regulated by Ofsted with several educational facilities across the local area
  • contracting with Independent Alternative Providers. Most independent providers here are non-regulated by Ofsted and therefore checks are carried out before placements happen. Schools and the local authority consult with providers on an individual basis to find out if the provider(s) can meet the needs of children and young people. Schools and local authorities can both utilise this by signing a partnership agreement.

Clusters of schools have also worked together to commission placements through non-regulated providers, with some top up funding from the local authority.

Improvement focus

We will:

  • continue to review commissioning arrangements for regulated and unregulated alternative provision, including for those with education health and care plans (EHCPs) who are unable to access a full-time educational placement
  • continue to implement a robust system for the effective oversight and quality assurance of alternative provision, ensuring that the local authority knows when alternative provision is commissioned
  • continue to work with the independent alternative provision forum to ensure there are established communication channels with the local authority, and providers are aware of their responsibilities
  • review and develop the alternative provision offer to primary aged children, linked to strengthening inclusive practice in mainstream schools, ensuring the incorporation of parents and carers views
  • ensure clear processes are in place with schools and other agencies for children and young people leaving mental health provisions to support them back into education
  • continue to review the arrangements for children and young people with an EHCP who receive Education Other Than at School (EOTAS) and establish a policy with accompanying criteria for when this is used.

How we will know we are succeeding

We will have:

  • a reduced number of permanent exclusions for children and young people receiving SEN support
  • evidence of improved outcomes and experiences for children and young people accessing alternative provision
  • evidence of better health outcomes health for children and young people accessing alternative provision
  • a well understood EOTAS policy and guidance document, co-produced with parents and carers, and approved by the SEND AP Board.

6 Experiences, outcomes and preparation for adulthood


We want children and young people with SEND to receive timely and helpful support to prepare for adulthood from the earliest opportunity.

Improvement focus

We will:

  • review and develop the information available on the Local Offer and Tools for Schools websites, in partnership with the West Sussex Parent Carer Forum, to ensure that parents and carers, children, young people and professionals understand what pathways and services of support are available to them as they prepare for adulthood
  • work with schools and further education providers to support young people to develop independence skills so that they can make a positive contribution to their community and access housing options so they can live safely and successfully on their own or with others
  • strengthen our work with education providers and employers to create more opportunities for young people with SEND to take part in training and employment
  • increase the number of young people with SEND securing employment
  • ensure that young people with SEND receive the health support they need to enjoy the best possible health and emotional wellbeing.

How we will know we are succeeding

We will:

  • provide an updated Local Offer and Tools for Schools document
  • see an increase in the number of young people with SEND aged 18-25 in employment
  • see a reduction in requests for specialist provision at key transition points because families will be confident that their child will be well supported in their next mainstream setting
  • see a reduction in the number of young people receiving SEN support who are not in education, employment, or training (NEET).

7 Co-production and communication


As a part of the SEND improvement plan, we want to focus on strengthening our participation with parent carers as well as children and young people.

The overall aim of this workstream is to ensure that children, young people and parent carers are well-informed and participate in decision-making about strategic developments, as well as in their own individual plans of support.

We will be shaping services to ensure the best outcomes for children and young people living within West Sussex.

The working group is divided into five different workstreams, these target decision making, outcomes, community development, co-production, service design and implementation and having a clear strategic oversight of all participation elements within the improvement journey.

Improvement focus

We will:

  • further develop the participation and co-production of children, young people and their families in SEN support plans and education, health and care needs assessments (EHCNAs), through person-centred planning
  • identify strengths and areas for development in access to impartial information, advice and support for SEN support and education health and care plans (EHCPs)
  • work with West Sussex Parent Carer Forum and Youth Participation Team to evaluate how effectively children and young people with SEND feel included in their local community and link findings with multi-agency training
  • ensure that communication with parents and carers from services across education, health and social care is clear and helpful, to ensure parents are well informed and enabled to participate in co-production meaningfully
  • embed a co-production policy and definition with West Sussex Parent Carer Forum and Youth Participation Team
  • create a co-production participation charter to link with the already established co-production partnership agreement
  • co-develop a co-production forum as a mechanism for service leads within education, health and social care and the SEND Governance Board to understand parent carer and children and young people’s views
  • continue to ensure that all services across education, health and social care have secure arrangements to evaluate the impact of their work and use this information effectively to work together to improve experiences and outcomes for children and young people with SEND.

How we will know we are succeeding

We will have:

  • parents and carers telling us that our letters and information are consistently clear and accessible
  • a reduction in the number of complaints from families about communication with professionals
  • a co-production participation charter in place for parent carers
  • a staff co-production training offer in place and staff will be trained and confident working in partnership with parent carers
  • the ability to demonstrate how children and young people and parent carers are helping to shape and inform our improvements
  • the West Sussex Parent Carer Forum survey demonstrating an improvement in the lived experience of our parents and carers and their children and young people.
Last updated:
24 June 2024
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