We spoke to Healthwatch Slough to find out what they have been doing to understand the experiences of families using Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) services.
What made you focus on this issue?
In June 2015, Slough Borough Council gave us a presentation on how SEND services may be affected by the Care Act and other recent legislation. They outlined plans to change the process for providing these services, and how they would work with children, young people and their parents and carers.
We wanted to hear families' experiences and ensure their voices were being heard.
What did you do?
We spoke to children and young people with special educational needs, their parents and others involved in supporting them, and asked for their views and experiences.
We looked at feedback people had previously shared with us on SEND services
We did some mystery shopping to find out how easy it was to find information about SEND services in Slough online.
What did you find out?
The families we spoke to told us:
there is a lack of information about support groups available to parents and carers
more local social activities and clubs for SEND children are needed
there needs to be better co-ordination between care professionals and schools
people felt that their views were not listened to or acted on
What happened as a result?
We shared our report and recommendations the council, children's services, Care Quality Commission and Slough Clinical Commissioning Group.
Our recommendations included:
Making it easier to access information
We would like online information to be more user-friendly and to see more sessions to tell our community about the support available.
Encouraging children and young people to have their say
We would like to see the council find more ways to encourage children and young people to share their views and experiences.
Encouraging parents and carers to speak up
We would like the ability for people to provide feedback to local services anonymously.
Increasing activities and support groups for SEND families
We would like to see the council and local providers increase the range and number of activities and groups available to families in Slough.
What feedback have you had so far?
The Chief Executive of the Children’s Service Trust responded to each of the recommendations made and have told us that they will be looking for opportunities to strengthen what is commissioned and promote more widely other services and activities that are available.