Earlier identification of need, and better support, closer to home, are at the heart of new proposals to ensure all children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) reach their full potential.
Improvements to the health visiting service will mean more children receive development checks during pregnancy and at ages one and two, and a new referral system means under-fives will receive faster autism diagnosis.
The borough’s new co-ordinated early help service will ensure that children and families can access the right support, at the right time, from a range of professionals working within their community; while from age one children with severe, profound and multiple needs who are at home, will benefit from the re-introduction of a portage (home-based learning) service.
In addition, for the first time children aged 0-5 with SEND will have ‘early years passports’, owned by their families, and bringing together all the information around their development, assessment and interventions.
And in response to consultation with parents and young people, the council and clinical commissioning group (CCG) have committed to improving training for practitioners, so that there is a better understanding of parents’ experiences. A new core training offer will be developed for all practitioners working with children and young people with SEND, as well as training for parents, particularly around managing behaviour at different stages of autism.
These are among a raft of measures contained in Croydon’s Draft SEND strategy 2019-22, published here with a report to be considered by the council’s cabinet next week.
The draft strategy sets out how the borough will achieve its aspiration – that all children and young people with SEND will live happy, healthy, independent lives, and be active contributors to the borough’s future.
It has been shaped by children and young people with SEND, families and carers, local partners in health, support groups, and mainstream and special schools through extensive public consultation.
Underpinning the strategy are five principles are inclusion; dignity and independence; choice; best value; and better outcomes.
It sets out how children and young people with SEND will be supported from the earliest possible stage, through into adulthood, focusing on their well-being and attainment, and building on their strengths through education, health and care. Ultimately the aim is that wherever possible, they will achieve independence and employment, in or near their local community.
This comes as the council, and its partners are significantly increasing specialist education provision for children and young people with SEND, meaning that more will be able to attend special schools or colleges near their home. A new special free school for ages 2-19 is due to open in September 2020, and specialist college education provision, the post 16-SEN Centre of Excellence, will open at Croydon FE College the same year. Consultation on plans for the schools will begin this Spring.
Also this week the council has published a new Draft Post 16 Travel Assistance Policy, setting out how it will give young people with SEND greater choice in how they are supported to travel to school and training, empowering them and their families and promoting their independence. The draft policy and report is due to be considered by cabinet next week and can be read here.
“Parents, carers, schools, groups, and children and young people from across the borough have played a really important role in developing our plans for the next four years. We are extremely grateful to all of them for their input, which has proved invaluable, as we work together to ensure that children and young people with SEND are offered the high quality support we want them to have.
“We want all our children and young people to lead happy, healthy and fulfilled lives, and reach their full potential. We hope that these proposals will improve their and their families’ experiences, and their journeys, and that they will all be active contributors to Croydon’s future.”
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning