SEND Resolution #SENDresolution
SEND Resolution launched on 16th May 2020. An independent collective of professionals and organisations that operates as The SEND Resolution for England. Prior to SEND Resolution launching, there was no central point of contact for families, schools and services that specifically focussed on special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and/or social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH). The Resolution Service aims to signpost families, schools and services to organisations, support groups and charities that can support where this is needed and where required can assess, evaluate and then implement bespoke models of support for any local authority in England.
This innovative Service will be available for all families, schools and services. It can uniquely challenge where required to ensure accountability, while at the same time providing practical support on the ground ensuring the child/young person’s needs remain the focus and priority and leading to better outcomes.
The Consultation Period
Throughout our 12-month consultation period we have engaged with over 600 families, almost 50 educational establishments across 24 local authorities. In addition, we have worked alongside teaching professionals, various Psychologists, social service departments, health care providers, legal professionals and the emergency services in order to ascertain where the gaps fall within our system and how we could support with linking multiple services together in order to ensure better outcomes for the child or young person involved.
The consultation period set out to evidence that a central point of co-ordination, particularly where there are multiple services involved, specifically where the child or young person has SEND and/or SEMH needs, improves overall outcomes for the child or young person. As part of this process it was important to engage with some local and national parent led support groups and we worked particularly closely with a group aiming to implement their Parent Champion model nationally.
Our findings demonstrated that combining these two bespoke models of support made a significantly positive difference to the families and professionals. It was highlighted throughout the 12-month consultation period, that there is a significant lack of training and understanding in SEND from a large number of professionals working across both education and social care. At present strict procurement processes prevent education settings from truly operating a creative and more nurturing support model, and our findings showed that these procurement processes often restricted schools from accessing services, charities and other organisations within their own communities that would have benefitted the child or young person.
This research evidenced that the current system is extremely disjointed with little consistency across education, social care, the private sector and the third sector. What’s more, the implications of this disjointed approach on SEND funding was that in many cases local authorities seem to be working on a ‘reactive’ basis rather than a ‘proactive’ basis meaning funds are not being spent effectively across the board.
As a result of the outcomes from our consultation period, we put together a manifesto, (you can read the manifesto that was submitted to MPs here)
The aim of our manifesto was to consult with more families, schools and services about our findings and to suggest a number of solutions that we collaboratively believe could make the system work more effectively for the children and young people in our country.
As a result of this research we then consulted more than 1000 families and professionals with our suggestions.
The overall feedback from our Manifesto consultation was positive although some wording within the document appeared to be open to interpretation. We consulted with a number of SEND legal advisors at this time who supported with recommendations relating to language used to describe our suggestions in order for the interpretation to be as intended.
We then submitted our Manifesto to the Education Select Committee (link above) entitled “Potential Solution to the SEND crisis”. Our solution focussed approach was welcomed, and we were invited for a number of meetings with cross-party MPs to discuss our intentions and our vision about how we could implement a practically supportive model. In these meetings we discussed how we view the model working across England and the reasons why we believe this model will help to better the outcomes for children and young people with SEND and/or SEMH needs, which is as follows:
The Great Minds Model
Both Emma and Meg run Great Minds Together, a Community Interest Company based in Greater Manchester that supports families, schools and services, and Geraldine Hills runs Parent Champions and also has her own business Inclusive Choice.
Emma and Meg implemented a creative model as part of their service across Greater Manchester, which was then extended across the UK in March 2020. Great Minds Together is a grass roots initiative that aims to fill the gaps where services and education cannot, either due to funding or resources in most cases. Great Minds Together is evidence based and this has formed a large part of providing evidence to the SEND Resolution consultation alongside other organisations and parent led groups.
The Great Minds Model is made up of 3 elements:
1. How it is delivered:
The Great Minds Model is delivered by a mixture of a paid multidisciplinary team, a professional volunteer initiative and a university graduate scheme.
One thing we noticed whilst delivering our services to families and schools, was that there are few providers that schools can access that don’t charge excessive fees. We engaged with one school and asked if they would trial our model to see if it made a significant difference to how many young people were supported, and whether The Great Minds Model was able to reduce costs to the school.
The school were paying £11,000 per term for an intervention that supported 3 students for 3 half hours per week and advised that they felt the outcomes were ineffective. By implementing The Great Minds Model, we were able to provide support for 25 young people, 5 days per week for less than half the cost of their previous ‘intervention’. This enabled more young people to access support, a full wraparound support for the family and reduced costs to the school in order for them to access more support via other providers for more young people.
The development of the model is and will be continual as it adapts to the needs of children, young people and their families. For example, one of our current trials is to identify whether a Tradership / Vocational pathway benefits the outcomes for young people that struggle to engage with the National Curriculum. The Tradership is an evidenced based programme that acts as an “access course” onto Apprenticeships and Traineeships which takes place in year 10 and 11, allowing young people to achieve their aspirations. This programme works alongside a number of industries and sectors to engage young people in a creative and flexible way. This includes Growth Mindset, Personal and Professional Development, CPD certifications (Online visual learning) and work-based experience. So far, the evidence demonstrates an increase in engagement, learning and attainment. We hope to achieve Ofqual accreditation for this pathway that will enable young people to access an alternative route to further education pre-16.
2. What is delivered:
The model itself has a large focus on Growth Mindset and it is bespoke to every young person, family and professional involved. The Growth Mindset approach is to enable “out of the box” thinking on how we get to where we want to be. In the case of a child or young person, the Growth Mindset approach is tailored to increasing their self-confidence and building of essential skills, which in turn impacts their engagement, learning and attainment positively. In the case of a professional, the Growth Mindset approach is focussed on their understanding of a person’s individual needs and how to adapt their teaching skills to encourage best potential for a young person with additional needs.
In addition, we operate a full wraparound support for the families involved by allocating a family mentor that can listen and understand what is working well, what is not working so well and then support with co-ordinating school and services, where there are multiple services involved. We noticed that by having a central point of co-ordination that had no restrictions on what services they could engage with, who are able to uniquely challenge where needed but then implement a bespoke model of support had the most positive impact.
3. Who it is delivered by and who it is delivered to:
The Great Minds Model is delivered by a paid multidisciplinary support team with the collaboration from organisations, charities and groups within the specific locality, as well as highly trained volunteers and graduates. Our aim is to match the skilled professionals and graduates that require experience with the schools and services that require additional support. It is delivered in schools, as an outreach service and across statutory services.
The Parent Champion Model
The Parent Champion Model was created and is run by Geraldine Hills. Geraldine is the parent of a child with SEND and fully experienced the frustrations and bureaucracy within the current system. Geraldine was successful after a very stressful tribunal where she had to ‘fight’ for the right education for her son. As a result, Geraldine noticed that throughout this process there was no independent organisation she could go to for support. So she started her own. Parent Champions has been running for five years and has been successful in individually supporting thousands of parents with the Champion Model.
Our vision is to have a Parent Champion in every school in the country by 2023.
All Parent Champions are trained in The Equality Act, how to identify a need, train a trainer, mediation and reasonable adjustments. The aim of a Parent Champion is to be able to ensure that school have a full understanding of their legal obligations and to support parents in accessing the level of support required for their child effectively. There would be one or more Parent Champions allocated to a school, which would preferably be a parent at the school, and they would host drop in sessions, provide workshops for families where needed and sit on the Board of Governors at the school.
Outcomes of meetings at Parliament
We discussed the model and provided evidence of the outcomes. We discussed how it was our intention to merge both The Great Minds Model and The Parent Champion Model in order to implement a bespoke framework of support that would be adaptable enough to embrace each individual locality.
We advised of our intention to form SEND Resolution in order for there to be a central, independent organisation specifically for SEND who would collaborate with all other organisations, community groups and businesses in order to understand what is available in each area, ensure they offer a quality service and signpost accordingly. We discussed that our view would be for SEND Resolution to support families, schools and services with a solution focussed approach. Somewhere central that all parents/carers and professionals could go to if they were struggling for support for their child or young person. We would then share how to implement The Great Minds Model with other Local Authorities and help them to implement it in their area, sharing good practice and promoting shared learning to raise standards for children and young people with SEND/ SEMH needs.
Following this we were then invited to write a Policy Paper to detail how the solution focussed model would work across England. We then began with the formation of SEND Resolution.
Whilst writing our Policy Paper we made contact with a number of people across the country to invite them to form the Non-Executive Board of Directors. We were mindful to ensure that there were a large number of parents and carers on the board as well as professionals that work across the country in all different aspects of education and social care. We also wanted to ensure there were a number of professionals that have vast experience and knowledge of working with children and young people with SEND and SEMH needs, as well as a number of legal advisors that were able to support our families and signpost effectively. In addition to this, we advertised on our website and a number of social media platforms that we welcome parents/carers and professionals that would like to be a part of the Board in order to represent and have an impact on how The Resolution Service is shaped as it continues to grow. As a result of that advertisement, we received more than 20 applications from parents, carers and professionals who wanted to be involved.
We wrote our policy paper, which you can read here, and in addition to the consultations we had already conducted, we further consulted more than 100 parents. We received some feedback from parents, again relating to the wording in some parts of the paper, which we amended as a result of parent involvement and subsequently submitted our Policy Paper in January 2020.
Shortly after we were hit by a pandemic. As a result of the pandemic which halted our plans, all of our focus diverted to our respective organisations as we began to receive a significant number of referrals from families who were struggling severely as a result of the withdrawal of services across the UK.
In the interim, we had launched our website and our petition, for SEND Resolution to become an independent SEND Resolution body for England.
A new type of Commissioner – The SEND Resolution Body
As a rule, a Commissioner is someone who is appointed to a role or by a commission that becomes a representative of the supreme authority in an area, for example; the Head of the Metropolitan Police in London.
An independent resolution body is a group free from outside or political control that works towards a specific goal for the country.
It is our view that The SEND Resolution will be an independent group, which is made up of all relevant stakeholders in order to implement a solution focussed approach to the current SEND crisis across England (initially) which can uniquely challenge to ensure that there is accountability at all levels, but with support in order to ensure it is achieved. The Resolution Service will support with Educational Health and Care Plans to ensure that parents are able to access appropriate advice and assistance and professionals understand their legal obligations and the individual at the heart of the document.
We have requested a number of statutory powers to enable SEND Resolution to effectively solve areas within the system that have barriers in allowing a child or young person to achieve.
These powers are:
· Powers of entry to data gather where a school or local authority are struggling to provide effective support for families, in order to highlight maladministration or misinterpretation of law and where this is in turn effecting the education and potential outcomes for children and young people with SEND
· To work alongside specific organisations, i.e. The Children’s Commissioner, NHS Digital and charity groups to promote the rights of children, ensuring schools and local authorities access relevant support effectively
· To implement the Great Minds Model, which is a unique, solution focussed model of support that has a multiagency and multi-model approach and promotes sharing of good practice and sharing of other models that work well within each locality. For example, should a person, group or organisation provide evidence that a particular model has achieved positive outcomes for children and young people in their area, in-keeping with the name, The Great Minds model will welcome the contribution of new models of support as long as they are evidence based
· A change to Procurement laws and processes that enable schools to access affordable, high quality support in their own community, empowering schools to source the best for every child or young person without restrictions
· An increase to 20% in SEND and SEMH needs training at teaching degree level
· Compulsory training for professionals within education and social care to understand how to support a child or young person with SEND and/or SEMH needs and how to adapt to a world that now has a significant level of need that may not have been the case when they initially qualified. This will mean all professionals will have to attend at least one yearly course that focuses on The Equality Act and Reasonable Adjustments and will be allowed to do so within their working hours
· University module reworking for teachers, social workers and other SEND related degree courses
The connection between Great Minds Together and SEND Resolution
SEND Resolution is a separate organisation from Great Minds Together. Great Minds Together is an evidence-based organisation that provides outcomes from a variety of trial models that promote the best level of support for children and young people in order for them to succeed.
SEND Resolution is a collective of models, that will be a constant working progress in order to provide a national level of support, helping local authorities understand the delivery of the models and supporting them in implementing them.
Emma Mander and Meg Walls are Directors of Great Minds Together. Collectively with Geraldine Hills and a number of parents and professionals, Emma and Meg came up with the idea to form a national independent body specifically for SEND.
Emma and Meg are happy to share the details of how The Great Minds Model works with many others, in the hope this benefits more children and young people across the country.
Great Minds Together or Inclusive Choice do not benefit or wish to benefit financially from SEND Resolution plans in any way.
Whilst The SEND Resolution is in its infancy, all board members and Directors are working in a purely voluntary capacity and the organisation is receiving no funding whilst it continues in its early stages of development.
We have requested funding from The Department for Education, in order to ensure stability whilst remaining independent. This is something we are currently assessing. This funding would be allocated to recruit staff initially. The team will then be fully trained and will be responsible for training professionals in other localities on how the model should be delivered. In addition, the team will be available to support in signposting families and professionals to organisations and community groups that will be vetted by The Resolution Service to ensure they are regulated. There will be another team responsible for gathering data that either does not currently exist or is hard to collate/find. The data gathering team will centralise effective data that presents a true picture of our system, sharing good practice and highlighting where improvements are required.
SEND Resolution Board members
SEND Resolution has a Non-Executive board that is made up currently of 21 members. We welcome anybody who wishes to be involved.
All decisions of SEND Resolution are made as a collective with a majority voting system by Executive and Non-Executive board members. It is important to us that decisions are made as a collective, and this includes the allocation of Executive Directors which is still being discussed. Once this is formalised, the full details will be made available on our website.
The collective experience of the board members is vast and is currently made up of the following:
11 parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities and/or social, emotional and mental health needs. Several of whom have experience in schools, education and social care, and a number of whom have a disability themselves. Some have experience of the personal effects of being a looked after child and many of our parents have experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences and so have a depth of understanding and speak from an informed position.
2 foster carers and social workers with a collective of 40 years of experience of working with children with SEND.
1 Speech and Language Therapist.
1 Educational Psychologist.
1 Integrated family and child therapist.
2 Headteachers of specialist provision schools.
1 barrister that has experience in representing both parents and local authorities, who also has a child with special educational needs.
1 award winning barrister who is also a governor at a specialist provision school and who has worked for many years promoting equality particularly in the workplace.
1 Public Health Specialist and Legal Consultant.
1 SENCO that works in a mainstream school that has more than 1500 pupils.
1 Assistant Headteacher that has worked in 2 mainstream primary schools and had responsibility for SEND.
1 Councillor that has a particular passion for children and their rights.
All of the current Board members believe in the importance of trauma informed practice, and a whole school approach to SEND.
What happens next?
We have a number of meetings planned with cross party MPs and Ministers to discuss our proposal and we hope that the Policy Paper will be put forward to be debated in Parliament.
What we envisage is a new unique independent body that works to unite all parents, professionals, organisations and groups to ensure a positive way forward.
The format of what we view The SEND Resolution Body being, does not currently exist, and there can be no comparison.
The body will be flexible, it will gather data that does not currently exist or is hard to find and will ensure there is accountability. Its aims are to save money where funds are not being spent effectively, in order to ensure that allocated funding for children with SEND is spent as it should be. It works within current systems to resolve and whilst it will campaign for more funding collectively with its colleagues and peers across the sectors, it will ensure that there is a central point for parents, carers and professionals to turn to whilst we are waiting for that funding to arrive.
The Resolution Service has four elements:
1. The Great Minds Model
a. Wraparound support for all the family
2. Parent Champion Model
3. Increasing awareness and understanding for professionals
4. Central point of resolution for families and professionals
The SEND Resolution for England will always work to unite parents, charities, community groups and organisations for the benefit of the children and young people, as “In Unity there is Strength”.