Developing the Southend Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) strategy

The final Southend SEND Area Partnership Strategy (2023 to 2026) can be read here.

The draft Southend Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Strategy consulted on in June 2022 was shaped by a wide range of stakeholder feedback gained from April 2021 to January 2022 which is set out below.

Southend’s Area SEND Self Evaluation Framework - Spring 2021

The self-evaluation framework (SEF) was compiled from partnership development sessions, discussions, and a wide evidence base including the SEND Profile and Smart Southend. It evaluated the area’s effectiveness across all areas of SEND; progress against priorities in the last strategy and against the four areas of improvement identified from the CQC and Ofsted inspection in 2018.

The SEF highlighted the gaps in provision and services for Children and Young People with SEND and their families. The SEF included the impact on communities, families, service commissioners and providers in Southend that play a part in working with children and young people with SEND and their families living in Southend. This was an important document in understanding the difference and impact of the area’s SEND offer.

The SEND summit - April 2021

The SEND summit was a critical meeting of the three main SEND groups (SEND Strategic Partnership Board, SEND Operations Group and the Joint Commissioning Group) and representatives of the Health and Well-being Board.

49 members of these groups attended the event, including five members of Southend SEND Independent Forum and other stakeholders. Attendance included Councillor’s Harp and Jones

The event was facilitated by Carole Brooks, the Council’s Children’s Services Independent Adviser. The purpose was to:

Assess whether:

  • The area had achieved the priorities and actions from the last SEND Strategy; the areas for improvement from the last inspection, including current progress on the Written Statement of Action.
  • If the area was meeting the requirements of the SEN code of practice and our standards, but most importantly, how are we doing for children and young people?
  • The key achievements are being met.


  • Whether the self-evaluation is an accurate portrayal and update it based on feedback
  • The outstanding areas for improvement
  • The priorities, potential actions and key features for the new three year SEND strategy.

The SEF was recognised as a fair reflection of the current position, but the outcome and evaluative component was missing on how it makes a difference.

Top 5 Priorities from the SEND summit

  • Transitions to cover the full 0 to 25 age range equally and improve transitions at all stages and across the board. A recognition that transition means different things to different people e.g. transition to different settings, from Key Stages, to adulthood etc.
  • Voice of the Child/Young Person –There needs to be a clear strategy on how we do this and to ensure that it runs through everything we do and reflected in strategic and operational decision making.
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing - Proactively addressing Mental Health and Wellbeing, rather than retrospectively.
  • Early Intervention - joined up and timely planning that is proactive and not reactive with the recognition that intervention is needed at the earliest stage and age.
  • Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) - There is further work to do for the effective collaboration between all partners when producing an EHCP to make sure quality contributions from all agencies are received when required, improving how health outcomes feed into plans and that plans fulfil both academic and wider outcomes.

Other common priorities:

  • A clear communication strategy setting out routes and avenues for effective and good communication. To use the Local Offer website as a comms tool for information that goes out to parents, CYP and professionals
  • Continue to develop the Local Offer of provision and the website with clear and active signposting to all available services. Defining the expectations from others of what they would expect to see in the local offer.
  • Workforce development and continuous professional development across the partnership; sharing competence and professional development from a first person and clinical perspective
  • Consistent SEND provision available in all settings; particularly at SEN Support with a better curriculum/vocational offer.

We surveyed participants after the summit

  • 24 participants responded
  • 100% of attendees felt listened to and felt able to participate in the summit and found the summit helpful.

SEND Priorities - survey April to July 2021

The next step was to ask children and young people with SEND, their families and people providing support and services to children and young people with SEND their thoughts on the proposed priorities drafted from the Summit.

A SEND Priorities survey went live on Your Say Southend from 21 April to 11 July 2021. This space is an engagement space run by the Local Offer Team to run consultations, engagements and to gain feedback on services.

  • 64 responses were received.
  • Just under 30% of respondents were a parent/carer/relative of the child with SEND
  • Just under 40% were practitioners
  • Just over 30% answered as ‘other’

98.4% of respondents said that transitions was a priority

95.2% of respondents said the Voice of the Child was a priority

98.4% of respondents said that early intervention and identification was a priority

98.4% of respondents said that emotional wellbeing and mental health was a priority

98.4% of respondents said that effective collaboration on EHCP’s was a priority

42% (24) respondents said they would like to help to develop the priorities further and left their contact details.

Developing the SEND priorities – poll July 2021

We specifically went back to those who left their details on 15/07/21 asking them to take part in a quick poll. 11 people responded.

The survey results confirmed that the majority of respondents agreed with the 5 priorities we identified and we were able to confirm the agreed wording for the priorities.

The Southend SEND Partnership reviewed the feedback and considered that ‘focussing on how the Voice of the Child/Young Person is heard’ should instead be one of the five partnership actions in the Strategy; which will drive effective implementation and sustainability of our priorities.

It was therefore agreed to use the 6th identified priority from the SEND Summit; The Local Offer.

Developing the SEND priorities – community visits June to August 2021

In June the Local Offer team contacted and visited SEND Groups in the community to gain their feedback on the priorities. Parent / Carers from Little Heroes and a parent group at Family Action provided their views which reflected that they needed more support and access information, early support and identification, support to understand SEND processes, and shared their frustration with diagnosis and health waiting times.

In July the Local Offer team also undertook 7 sessions with 25 young people to understand what their priorities were. Schools and youth groups facilitated the sessions where young people shared that their priorities largely focussed on activities and accessing the community.

In August 8 young people took part in a MS Teams session with the Local Offer team to share what the identified five priorities meant to them. The young people shared what having SEND meant to them and what was important for them in each of the priorities. Feedback included flexible support, more places to socialise and feel safe, and having support with transitions.

Developing the high-level strategic actions - July to August 2021

Alongside the community engagement was further partnership engagement sessions to develop strategic actions for each of the priorities. 2 sessions took place in July and August 2021 for operational practitioners and representatives from the parent carer forum Southend SEND Independent Forum (SSIF).

Participants across education, health and social care and SSIF considered the feedback from the survey and engagements and provided input into the strategic actions.

Drafting the Strategy - Partnership engagement October to November 2021

During the autumn term members of the SEND Partnership worked alongside SSIF to co-produce a draft SEND Strategy which incorporated the feedback to date.

The SEND Strategy was circulated internally to members of the SEND Strategic Partnership Board, SEND Operations Group and the Joint Commissioning Group with an invitation to provide feedback on the content and wording.

Feedback was sought to ensure the draft Strategy was clear on the strategic intentions on which to formulate a set of actions and outcomes in the accompanying Strategy action plan. The Strategy was updated to reflect this feedback.

Developing the action plan – Partnership engagement December 2021

2 facilitated sessions were arranged to engage with members of the Partnership to consider the refined high-level strategic actions for each of the 5 priorities.

These sessions were designed to obtain stakeholder input around the action plan that would sit beneath the Strategy.

SCC colleagues in public health, Early Years. Social Care, the SEND Team, Connexions, Inclusion Team, Provision Team and school nursing in addition to the designated Medical Officer, CCG colleagues, A Better Start, Health Watch, schools, SSIF and Lighthouse Centre all provided input.

The sessions asked partners to identify what was needed to meet Strategy objectives, what they can lead or contribute to and how the area could effectively measure the impact of services/interventions on the lives of children and young people with SEND and their families.

Refresh of the draft SEND Strategy

In November 2021 Council Members commissioned a Local Government Association peer review of Council SEND services. Their report and recommendations were published in January 2022.

The recommendations included a refresh of the draft Strategy, drawing on advice and support from the parent career forum (SSIF) in co-producing it so that it was less complex and parent friendly.

A review of all feedback to date was undertaken along with SSIF and amendments were made and sighted at various governance groups once more for comment ahead of formal consultation.

Consultation June to July 2022

The updated draft strategy was presented for public consultation from 17 June 2022 to 29 July 2022. The consultation set out the overall aims, ambitions, values and vision of the Southend SEND Strategy and sought feedback on how the area should address the five identified priorities.

Parent carers of children with SEND, young people with SEND, SEND professionals and stakeholders were invited to give their feedback and given opportunities to shape and influence the action plan that would sit beneath it.

A total of 137 people engaged with the consultation. The feedback confirmed that the draft strategy and the engagement work and activity that had been carried out to date to produce it, did identify the improvements needed accross the area.

Final draft August 2022

The parent carer forum (Southend SEND Independent Forum) worked closely with the SEND Partnership to review the wide range of consultation feedback to ensure that the key priorities and the proposed strategic actions reflected the needs of the SEND community.

The final draft Southend Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Strategy was developed and co-produced by the Southend SEND Partnership and Southend SEND Independent Forum.

Governance September 2022 to July 2023

The final draft strategy was presented to the various SEND Governance meetings, Council meetings and Cabinet for additional feedback and agreement over the autumn term 2022. Additional updates were made to the strategy in line with feedback.

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