Agenda item

0-25 Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Strategy

Officer: Robert Henderson

Key decision: no


The Cabinet Member for Children, Young People & Learning introduced the Strategy which supported the council’s priority to support all young people to achieve their potential. Consultation on the Strategy ran from 3 December 2018 until 31 January 2019 and covered four key areas for strategic development; including the early identification of young people with SEN, joint working to support the Education, Health & Care Plan (EHCP), improved commissioning and provision of support, and improved post-16 pathways and transition for young people.


The Cabinet Member welcomed the guests who attended the meeting, young people and parents, who had been involved in the consultation process for the SEND Strategy.


Ms Kishore-Bigord, a parent of twin 16 year olds, spoke of her and her son’s journeys. She had felt passionate about being involved in the consultation for the Strategy and recognised that there had been opportunity to engage with the council on the development of the Strategy; however she raised concerns that those who were hard to reach had not been heard. Ms Bigoord stated she had been pleased that the council had gone back to the drawing board last year following responses from parents and had built a joint Strategy which brought in health.


Members were informed that young people with SEND were not asking for everything to be reinvented, but that they wanted the same opportunities as all other young people. Their experiences were that everything was a little more difficult and was very complicated; they wanted only to have the same opportunities and it was felt by Ms Bigoord that the Strategy would support young people to achieve their aspirations. To further the ambition of the council, Ms Bigoord suggested adding the following to the council’s vision for young people – “Achieve through improved joint working between education, health and social care services to include our children, young people, and their parents and carers.”


Ms Bowell, a parent, stated she continued to have concerns and that she felt that the Strategy should be overhauled to ensure there was joint working with health, education and social care, as she felt that there was not enough emphasis in the proposed Strategy. Members were informed that it was important that all children had aspirations and were supported to achieve them, and the Strategy did not outline how it would be delivered.


Concerns were raised by Ms Bowell that the Strategy only mentioned Supported Internships which were unpaid and not paid apprenticeships; and as such it was suggested the message was that young people with SEN could not aspire to be paid.


Ms Speller from Parents in Partnership thanked Cabinet for inviting parents and young people to attend and speak at the meeting. Members were informed that parents were pleased to have been involved at the start of developing the Strategy and were able to help shape a document which was for all of Croydon.


The Leader thanked the parents for their contributions and agreed that the delivery of the Strategy was integral to the success; as such parents and young people would be welcomed back to a Cabinet meeting within 12 months to discuss progress as it was recognised that it was important to ensure everyone was working together.


In response to Member questions, young people suggested it was important that everyone worked together; including young people, youth clubs, employers, and the council to ensure that the conversation on supporting young people with SEN took place and that there was more positive action. It was further noted that the young people raised their experiences of attending SEN schools and mainstream schools, and that mainstream education had been difficult as the other pupils were not used to having colleagues with disabilities, and as such it was suggested that additional support was required at school.


The Disability Lead Officer informed Members that many of the young people in attendance had jobs; however their experiences between 19 and 25 needed to be improved. As such it was suggested that more could be done to support and engage employers to recruit people with SEN.


Young people in attendance stated that they understood that implementing a new Strategy took time and that everyone needed to work together to make it a success. It was felt that the voice of young people had been heard during the consultation process.


Members stated that it was important that the Strategy also raised the positives of disabilities; including that those with disabilities became natural problem solvers and were the most loyal employees.


Young people felt that they did receive support from the council; such as when there were job opportunities they were informed and were supported to complete applications. However, Parents in Partnership stated that there were many young people in Croydon who did not know where to turn to get support, and that there was not a sufficient number of people who understood the positives of disabilities and who were able to support.


The Cabinet Member for Economy & Jobs informed those in attendance that the council had a priority to ensure all young people were supported in achieving employment, and as such had a number of initiatives to support the priority such as apprenticeships, the Good Employers Charter and the All About Me project. The Cabinet Member stated that it was important to support young people with SEN and employers to discuss the positives, and in the previous year the council had supported a resident with autism to open a pop-up shop in the Whitgift Centre through the Business School. The Disability Lead Officer stated that the support received for the pop-up shop should be continued to support other young people to achieve their ambitions and learn new skills.


In response to Member questions it was noted that a young person who had wanted to start a business had not received support to complete the required paperwork, and the Leader stated that the support would be provided immediately.


The Cabinet Member, in response to questions, noted the Strategy did contain next steps including an implementation plan, and that it was important to ensure all the different partners worked together to ensure the successful delivery; of which education was one partner. However, as had been acknowledged by the guests, it would take time for the Strategy to bed in and deliver the best outcomes for young people within the borough.


The Leader thanked the parents and young people for attending and providing Members with their thoughts on the Strategy and the support they had received. It was noted that it was important that the council was held to account and as such a future report would be considered by Cabinet on the progress of implementing the Strategy.


The Leader of the Council delegated to the Cabinet the power to make the decisions set out below.




1.    Consider the draft proposed 0-25 Special Educational Needs and Disability Strategy and accompanying report concerning the consultation exercise and the Equality Impact Assessment; and 


2.    Delegate authority to the Executive Director of Children, Families and Education, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Young People and Learning to take into account any comments made by Cabinet, take such steps as were necessary to finalise, publish and implement the Council’s 0 – 25 SEND Strategy (and noted that the decision to finalise and publish the strategy would be a Key Decision and would be advertised accordingly).


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