A major study by Healthwatch Newcastle into special education needs and disability (SEND) provision in the city will be used as research evidence by the government.
The findings of the recent study will be given to the Education Committee which is addressing the problem of social injustice in education. In 2014, the government introduced wide-reaching changes to the SEND system, with the intention of offering simpler, improved and consistent help for children and young people with SEND.
Nationally, evidence is now being collated to see what impact these changes have had and to investigate if further improvements can be made. The new study is timely as Healthwatch Newcastle recently published its own local findings following research in 2016–17.
The main findings indicated that service users should participate as fully as possible in decision-making and that health authorities and schools should provide information and support to enable them to participate in decisions.
The Chief Executive Officer of Healthwatch Newcastle, Steph Edusei, said:
“We listened extensively to people’s experience of education, health and care plans (EHC), sending a questionnaire to all parents and carers, and young people aged 16–25, with an EHC plan or Statement in Newcastle. Our report recommended 12 changes based on what people told us. We’re delighted that some recommendations have already been taken forward including the creation of a ‘who’s who guide’ and ‘frequently asked questions’ so families know more about the EHC plan process.”
The SEND programme board, chaired by Newcastle City Council, developed an action plan in response to the report recommendations. This includes the implementation of the key recommendation that each family is given a single point of contact in order to improve communication and increase participation.
The Healthwatch team has passed a copy of its report to the Education Committee, which can be downloaded at https://tinyurl.com/SEND-Newcastle.
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