changes we have made

When we receive feedback from surveys, focus groups and email we demonstrate how we’ve responded to this through a ‘you said, we did’ approach. This helps you to see what impact your feedback has had directly on a service, process, or information area.  We will regularly update this section of the website to show our continued commitment to improving your family’s experience of services. There will be a compilation of these improvements published at the end of the year in a SEND annual report.

Please also see the latest news page for SENAR updates and SEND improvement information.

If you have comments please return to the home page to fill out the Feedback form.

*The following summarises the progress that the Local Area has made following previous family feedback:

Since May 2021, the Local Authority has been working on improving the Special Educational Needs Assessments and Review Service (SENAR). In September 2021, we asked families what the most important improvements they would like to see were. From what families fed back, we did: 

March 2022

You Said that it was difficult to get involved in SEND strategic plans and to engage with leaders. 

We Did/are Doing ……….. 

We have heard that parents and carers have found it difficult to communicate with SEND leaders and to have a meaningful say on plans and developments relating to SEND.  

  •  In response to these concerns raised, in the Autumn of 2021, the SEND Improvement Board (chaired by the Commissioner, John Coughlan) and the SEND Management Group were set up to create plans for change and make them happen.   The Birmingham Parent Carer Forum is a key member of these meetings and represents the voice and experience of families at all of them. 
  • To ensure the voice and experience of parents and families is central to the SEND Improvement Board meetings, the start of each meeting includes real-time lived experience case examples from families. This is a behaviour that we are hoping to see replicated in many other SEND Leadership meetings. 
  • We have also created a group called ‘Working Together Well’ which makes sure that actions happen such as co-producing (creating, designing, and assessing SEND systems and products together) and making more engagement opportunities for parents’ carers and young people. 
  • The Parent Carer Forum and a representative for young people with SEND are part of this group which works to strengthen relationships with parents and carers and improved outcomes for their children. 

 You have said that you would like to be more involved and engaged in decision making and planning about service developments and improvements  

We Did/are Doing ………..  

To address this, we have also set up 6 small groups where we are hoping to have wide involvement of parents and carers to look at ways of:  

  • Improving parent carer engagement and making sure you are heard 
     
  • Ensuring the voice and experience of young people is heard 
     
  • Setting up a SEND co-production champions network which will make sure that co-production is in everything we do. 
     
  • Involving schools and families and everyone involved in SEND in ‘working well together’  
  • Developing and designing a co-production framework – this will describe and set the principles on how/what/when we co-produce as a whole partnership.
  • Measuring our improvements on working with families based on what families have told us. i.e. are our improvements making a difference?

You have said that to maximise opportunities for parents and carers to become involved and attend meetings we should make meeting times that support childcare and parental care arrangements  

We Did/are Doing ………..  

  • Acting on advice from our Parent Carer Forum we now do our best to make sure that SEND Improvement meetings and events are held when children are usually in school classroom teaching time between 10.00 am and 2.00 pm. We have also included this as a written requirement for all meetings being arranged as part of SEND Improvement. We will aim for this rule to be part of the usual practice for SEND meetings in the future. 

  

You Said that you feel co-production is weak in Birmingham and that leaders don’t seem to understand what it means. 

We Did/are Doing ……….. 

  • We are looking at finding ways of working where children and young people, families, and those that provide the SEND services work together more closely to create services that work for all (this is known as ‘co-production’). 
  • We understand that you need confidence and assurance that Local area SEND leaders understand this way of working together. The Local Area SEND partnership (education, health and social care) met with the Parent Carer Forum to start detailed conversation and process of working on a shared understanding and a shared definition of SEND co-production. 
     
  •  In the Spring, when we are happy that we have a definition and a way of working that is agreed and understood by all, we will be publishing it alongside other key pieces of work that will be a co-production framework. 
     
  • Since November 2021 we have been carrying out a research/learning exercise to find services where co-production is working well in schools, care, health, and community settings so that we can learn from examples of good practice which have involved parent carers and young people working co-productively with others. By May we will be publishing a report on these findings with recommendations.  

     

You Said that you wanted to be included in more engagement activities so that your opinions and experiences are included in how services can be improved

We Did/are Doing ………..  

  • Since September 2021 we have been working closely with the parent carer forum, schools, and health settings to find ways to reach out to and involve parents, carers, and young people in Birmingham to improve SEND services and the experience of the SEND journey for families.  
     
  • Between December 2021 and March 2022, a total of 8 ‘Have your say’ events have been held, inviting parents and carers events to share their hear the views and experiences of parents and carers on SEND support and services, co-production, and the SEND Local Offer website. 
     
  • We have heard that parents would like engagement events to be held at different times during weekdays and weekends and so we have organised the ‘Have your say’ events in the daytimes, evenings and on Saturday morning. They have been both online and in person.   
     
  • At the end of every ‘Have your say’ event we are asking parents and carers to complete feedback surveys. We will use the information that you provide in these surveys to continually improve how we arrange future engagement events for parents and carers based on what you tell us. 

     

  • Over 700 parents and carers signed up to attend these workshops although only 100 attended. The sessions have been held in person and online at various times and locations to ensure everyone can attend who would like to.  
     
  • We will also use the early feedback from these events to identify areas for improvement across services so that things like access to services and signposting; advice and information about what to expect from services and communication and your involvement in your child’s EHC plans being improved. 
     

You have said that you would like to be more engaged and kept more up-to-date about things that are happening or being planned for SEND support.  

We Did/Are Doing/……. 

  • As well as making sure that the Birmingham Parent Carer Forum (BPCF) is represented at SEND Improvement planning meetings we are reaching out to parents and carers at all the ‘Have Your Say’ events to invite and encourage signing up to membership of the PCF and/or to become involved at many different levels including receiving regular updates and newsletters from the Communications Lead Officer.  

These are some of the ways and opportunities for Parents/ Carers to get involved and be heard. If you have any more suggestions/ideas where we could do more on this, we would like to hear your views. Please contact us at SENDImpComm@birmingham.gov.uk or feedback on the home page of the SEND Local Offer website – www.localofferbirmingham.co.uk 

 

You Said – Not enough people have heard of the SEND Local Offer website 
 
We Did/Are Doing….. 

  • We have made a promotional video which will explain more about the website, what it includes and how to find it, so that more people will get to know about it and use it regularly. Find it here – https://youtu.be/TcAblK6EVQ0  Signed video – https://youtu.be/eG6co9SAhK0 
  • We have contacted all Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) in schools and reminded them to have an obvious link to the SEND Local Offer website from their school website, so parents and carers are made aware of the Local Offer website when they are looking at information on their school. 

     

  • We have held 8 parent/carer engagement meetings to gather opinions on the SEND Local Offer website and how better to promote it and are learning from parents and carers about what they want to see on the site and how we can let more people know about it. 
     
  • We are working in the background to make the site easier to find in internet searches. 

Birmingham City Council (BCC), NHS, and Birmingham Children’s Trust (BCT) are working to promote the site at all meetings and interactions with professionals, families, and schools to help to spread the word about the website.

  • We have set up a focus group including parents, schools, children, and young people as well as NHS and Children’s Trust staff and other professionals to help us to improve the site for users. 
     
  • We are talking to children and young people about what they would like to see on the site. 

As a result, whilst this is work in progress, we are now promoting the Local Offer Site far and wide and implementing your feedback.  

 

You Said – People can’t find what they want on the SEND Local Offer website  
 
We Did/Are Doing… 

  • We have worked with parents and carers who have attended the engagement events to get their views on how to improve the site. 
     
  • All relevant education, health and social care staff are being asked to look at the site and give feedback on how the site could work better. 
     
  • The search tool has been upgraded and now works far more effectively.
  • We are planning to work with parents/carers to look at how the site could be laid out better.  We’ll do this with children and young people too. 
     
  • We have moved some areas of the site to make them easier to find. 
     
  • The accessibility tool has been upgraded and improved so that more people can access the site and read it more easily. 

As a result of these changes and taking on board your feedback we hope you agree the Local Offer website is improving. What do you think? Please give us your feedback at www.localofferbirmingham.co.uk 

 

You Said – We can’t speak to anyone in SENAR  

We Did/Are Doing….. 

  • We have secured additional funding to recruit more staff into the SENAR service 
     
  • We have recruited over 50 new officers into the SENAR service to support the casework and completion of annual review and assessment paperwork which will help us to help families more efficiently and more quickly  
     
  • We have rearranged the SENAR service into 4 area teams – North, East, South & West so that there will be dedicated help for your area and your young person is allocated to the area team dependent upon their setting postcode or their home postcode if they are out of a setting

     

  • We’ve added in more relevant leadership to drive the change and improvements needed in the service so that they get done efficiently and within the guidance set in the SEND Code of Practice. 

As a result, there will be more resources to support Parents and Carers when needed. Whilst we embed the new structure in the service and arrange for contact telephone points for all service officers please continue to contact the Parent Link service at Parentlinkservice@birmingham.gov.uk 0121 303 8461 

 

You Said – There isn’t one person dedicated to look after our child’s needs 

We Did/are Doing ………..  

  • The ongoing recruitment drive will allow for the young people in our service to be allocated into area teams and for officers to be assigned a caseload.  This will start to impact in the coming weeks and months as we assign each young person their own caseworker. 
     
  • We are putting in an upgraded case management system (Nexus) in place so that everyone involved with a child can access their information.  This is an ongoing programme of work and we hope to have the system live and functional by the end of September 2022. 
     
  • We are working with parents and professionals to develop a new EHCP needs assessments process where parents and carers contribute their opinions for inclusion in the EHCP. A trial of the new process will start in March.   
     
  • We are setting standards for quality with partners and developing a Quality Assurance framework that will and clarify roles and responsibilities so that together we know how well we are doing and can test that out.  This will also ensure that the EHC plans are robust and personalised to the young person.  This will be in place in September 2022. 

 

You Said – There isn’t good enough SEND provision in mainstream schools in Birmingham  

We Did/Are Doing….. 

The Developing Local Provision (DLP) project was set up and rolled out across Birmingham schools’ partnerships last term to support with additional £14m investment over the programme for mainstream schools and early years settings, to build and develop their SEND knowledge, skills, and provision to help pupils with SEND do better within mainstream schools.  

There is already some excellent evidence of the improvement that some of these projects have made to children with SEND in both secondary and primary mainstream schools (the DLP is available to all mainstream schools). For example, in a project running across a group of secondary schools to improve literacy for children and young people who were not performing well, the pupils made the following improvements in just six weeks:  

  • Their reading and comprehension age improved by 2 years and 2 months  
  • 2.3% increase above expected levels in word recognition i.e. recognising common words on the page   
  • An average of 2 bands progress above their expected standards on the Birmingham language and literacy scale  
  • On a 5-point emotion rating scale, pupils made almost a whole grade’s progress (0.8), feeling happy at the end of the programme with an improved attitude and resilience towards reading and literacy.  
  • Significant increase in parental and home school SENCO satisfaction in SEND provision for the children in the programme. 

 As part of the DLP, the special school outreach service has also been developed to provide additional specialist SEND support for children and young people, and school staff in our mainstream schools. Mainstream schools can now access support from special schools directly to meet the needs of more pupils, through a referral system being managed by Wilson Stuart School. This initiative will provide and build additional capacity across Birmingham to improve provision and outcomes for children and young people with SEND. 

Improvements in the Health Service 

You Said – Waiting lists are too long for Community Therapy services and Autism Assessments.   

We Did/Are Doing…..  

  • The Children’s Community Therapy teams (Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, and Autism Assessment Team) are working closely with the Local NHS teams to monitor the waiting lists and develop set targets for each service.     
     
  • The Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) and Occupational Therapy (OT) waiting lists have shortened which means families are being seen sooner for initial assessments. OT average wait is 11 weeks, SLT average waits for an initial assessment for clinics is 4.7 weeks and 22 weeks to package of care (POC).  Plans to reduce package of care waits are also being developed. 

     

  • Providers have continued to use digital consultations, with feedback from families, to support children and families where applicable.  
  • Extra temporary Speech and Language Therapists have been recruited to further support work to reduce waiting times, which was seen in the waitlist reduction up to Dec 2021. 
  • Transformational work has commenced moving SLT towards a “balanced system” approach to meeting speech, language, and communication needs (SLCN). This model of working will support the reduction in waiting lists by embedding a system-wide approach to communication needs from universal to targeted level (education settings will be better supported to meet SLCN with a different approach from therapists).   
        
  • The OT service has introduced parent/carer workshops to support families.  If a child needs therapy as part of their package of care, specific workshops have been developed for targeted and specialist support.   https://www.bhamcommunity.nhs.uk/patients-public/children-and-young-people/services-parent-portal/paediatric-occupational-therapy-service/workshop-resources/  
  • Improvements in OT are being carried out to identify referrals that can be assessed by the SEND Team to allow the physio service to focus on specific referrals.  

     

  • A new software called ‘Patient Initiated Follow Up (PIFU)’ system is due imminently within the paediatric physiotherapy service, this will help providers and systems manage the waitlists and see patients most in need more quickly.
       
  • We have created ‘Cross Border Working Principles 2021’, which outlines how children and young people who live on the border are supported in therapy services when they need to access neighbouring services.   The principles help to ensure smooth and timely access to the appropriate services and support for the child, reducing waiting times.   
  • We have introduced Healios (online provider of Autism assessments) to help reduce ASD assessment waiting times.  It is used to see children and young people aged 7+ awaiting assessment in Birmingham.   
     
  • By December 2021 Healios had completed 1555 Autism Spectrum Disorder assessments and is expected to see another 330 children between Jan-Mar 2022.  
     
  • Waiting times for school-aged children (7+) have reduced down to an average of 29 weeks, this is for all families. 

 

You Said – What support is available for families that are waiting for therapies?   

We Did/Are Doing…… 

  •  Advice lines have provided information advice and guidance to families and professionals. The advice has been positively received by families as a means of information and guidance particularly while they are on the waiting list, and some families have reported that the advice ‘was invaluable’ and ‘a lifeline’. 

For details of the advice lines please see https://www.bhamcommunity.nhs.uk/patients-public/children-and-young-people/services-parent-portal/  
 

  • The services have developed a range of support, advice, and guidance YouTube videos for specific service needs to support families while they wait, these are available on the Trust webpages.   
     
  • The service webpages contain a range of resources, flyers, and links to further support families while they wait for their child’s appointment.  
     

Occupational Therapy – 0121 683 2325 www.bhamcommunity.nhs.uk/patients-public/children-and-young-people/services-parent-portal/paediatric-occupational-therapy-service/ 

Speech and Language Therapy – 0121 466 6231 www.bhamcommunity.nhs.uk/patients-public/children-and-young-people/services-parent-portal/birmingham-slt/slt-videos/ 

Physiotherapy – 0121 466 5193 www.bhamcommunity.nhs.uk/patients-public/children-and-young-people/services-parent-portal/paediatric-physiotherapy-service/ 

 

You Said – We need better access to Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) support services.  We need more support -post-diagnosis  

We Did/are Doing ………..  

An all-age Autism support service is currently in development following consultation with experts by experience, services, and commissioners. The next steps for the service include recruitment to roles and development of a dedicated website and phone line.  The contract period started January 2022, there is a “go live” date of April 1st, 2022 


Y
ou Said – the out-of-hours support for Mental Health crisis does not always meet the needs of Children and Young People with Learning Disabilities and Autism.  

We Did/Are Doing…………… 

  • Within Forward Thinking Birmingham (FTB) the Disability Intensive Support Enhanced (DICE) team currently focus on the reduction of crisis by providing specialist early intervention work. Three Year RoadMap – Enhanced Support, Crisis This service is to be expanded, the service specifications are with the parent carer forums for sign off. 

 

You Said – What is the update on health appointments and social distancing guidance?   How much is virtual now and what can parents expect? 

We Did/are Doing ………..  

  • Most Health providers in Birmingham continue to offer a mix of face to face and virtual or telephone appointments   

     

  • Digital platforms were developed quickly and innovatively in response to Covid but are now being reviewed, co-productively with families to understand preferences and provide patient choice.  

     

  • A mix of virtual and face-to-face appointments is now offered to provide choice. Physiotherapy, due to the nature of the service, returned to predominantly face-to-face appointments from January 2022.  Virtual appointments have been well received by some families through direct feedback, stating they better support their child’s needs.   

 

February 2022

You Said

We Did/Are Doing

You weren’t being listened to

We are running a series of 8 parent and carer engagement events both online and in person to hear your views

A lot of people don’t know about the SEND Local Offer website is hard to use

We are working hard to make sure that every SEND parent knows about the SEND Local Offer website, via schools, newsletters and social media.  We have changed the name to the SEND Local Offer website and have improved the search tool on the website.

There is no signposting to help and support

We are recruiting co-production champions to help you find what you need in SEND support

We are not listening to children and young people

A working group has been set up to capture champion the views of children and young people.  We are working with the RISE and Wellbeing Youth Forums, as well as young people from the SENDIASS service.  Children and young people are now part of our co-production research and framework.

October 2021

You Said 

We Did/ Are Doing 

Improve communication: answer calls and emails 

  • We have appointed a Head of SENAR Operations to work alongside the current Head of Service to transform the SENAR service, by improving processes, increasing the service capacity and working more closely with families and professionals. 
  • We have received significant investment from Cabinet in July, which means that we are able to hire more people to work in the SEND Service and carry out vital casework.  We are currently recruiting for several case workers and senior case workers to ensure that all young people are assigned their own officer. We are carrying a high number of vacancies at present, so we are recruiting both internally and externally to cover this.  
  • We are working on a comprehensive accurate communication plan to all young people, families and schools so you know who to contact and where to go. We will publish this information as soon as it is finalised.  
  • We are reducing the number of contact points into the service by closing unnecessary email accounts and aligning the new contact points to our communications strategy 
  • We have realigned all the interim staff to permanent senior case officers and team managers. 

We need a named, accessible plan co-ordinator for Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) 

  • We have moved the SENAR team back into locality teams – North, South, East & West – with a clear management structure in each team. The area teams have been allocated schools and young people dependent upon postcodes. This will ensure that there is ownership of cases within the service. We will communicate this to families and education settings soon. 
  • We have aligned our Parent Link service alongside our resolutions team to provide further support to parents and young people when they have an issue – we are looking at how parents can use the service to find resolutions to their issues as quickly as possible. 
  • We have realigned our business support structure to facilitate better support to the service and we are in the process of recruiting for support staff.  

Professionals need better data, so that errors happen less frequent 

  • We are reviewing the case management system (NEXUS) to establish new more streamlined processes. A project is underway to tackle this. This will also include a parent portal and schools’ portal. More information will be shared in our next update on dates for these.  

Ensure that there is timely and appropriate provision and support 

  • We are working through the internal processes around reviews and assessment to ensure that we streamline the work to help us achieve 100% compliance with the timelines set in the SEND Code of Practice and have a more positive outcome for families and young people. 
  • We are developing our decision-making process to ensure consistency of outcomes are managed by professionals and experts within the SEND arena – working in partnership with Health & Social Care. Giving autonomy for smaller decisions back to the senior case workers who know the young person rather than everything being held up in a multi-agency panel. 

We need coproduced fit for purpose EHCP plans  

 

  • We have recruited an expert in the SEND Code of Practice to ensure that all staff are acting within the guidelines set within the code – this officer is building a comprehensive training programme for all current officers alongside an induction programme for all new starters. 

 

Health (CCG) Progress Update 

In Birmingham Healthcare services work together, alongside their partners to best support Children, Young People/Adults and their families and improve Health services across the City. From what families fed back, we did: 

You Said 

We Did/ Are Doing 

Waiting lists are too long for Community Therapy services and Autism Assessments.  

 

 

  • Extra resources have been used to support with reducing all waiting lists 
  • Transformation work is taking place to support Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) services 
  • There is active involvement in progressing a whole system autism pathway 
  • Services are using virtual ways of assessing for autism and offering therapy appointments  
  • Trialling a faster way of completing assessments for autism for children under 7yrs 
  • Services are completing reviews of the children on the autism waiting lists  
  • All waiting lists are regularly monitored to try and make sure the plans are working 
  • The average waiting times for Speech and Language Therapies initial assessments have reduced from 24.1 weeks (March 2021) to 7.6 weeks (August 2021). 
  • The maximum waiting times for Speech and Language Therapies intervention have reduced from 128 weeks (March 2021) to 95 weeks (August 2021). 

What support is available for families that are waiting?  

  • Advice lines are available for families whilst on the waiting list for all therapy services 
  • Information advice and guidance is available online 
  • Linking with the iKnow project to make intervention / support packages available for families during their wait (link with Birmingham university) 
  • https://www.bhamcommunity.nhs.uk/childrens-healthcare/services/ 

We need better access to Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) support services.  

We need more support post diagnosis 

  • A Pre-Post Autism Diagnosis support offer is in development  
  • Health are working with the Communication and Autism Team (CAT) and a few mainstream primary schools in the city to pilot ‘Autism in schools project’ 

 

Out of hours support for Mental Health crisis does not always meet the needs of Children and Young People with Learning Disabilities and Autism.  

  • Forward Thinking Birmingham (FTB) offer 24/7 Mental Health crisis support to 0-25 year olds in Birmingham 
  •  They are currently reviewing how their out of hours Crisis provision supports people with Autism and Learning Disabilities  
  • Work is happening with partner agencies to ensure that all children and young people are supported well at the right time by staff who have the right knowledge and expertise 
  • During weekday hours (9-5) FTB teams have duty lines. 0300 300 0099 

Invest more in MH support for parents and children 

 

  • Investment in Mental Health Services has taken place and is ongoing 
  • NHS, voluntary and other services are working together to make sure investment leads to better outcomes for children, young people and adults in Birmingham and Solihull  

What is the update on health appointments and social distancing guidance?   

 

How much is virtual now and what can parents expect? 

  • Most Health providers in Birmingham are offering a mix of face to face and virtual or telephone appointments  
  • The type of appointment offered to a child or young person and their family is typically based clinical need, whether it is possible for it to be virtual and if it is safe for it to be face to face.   
  • Many providers still have a one visitor/parent/carer policy for appointments however; if this is not suitable it is often possible to request for others to attend by getting in touch ahead of time.   

Feedback Received

SEND resources suppliers requiring space on the LO website – 21st April 21

Local Offer terminology is not understood by families – 24th April 21

SEND Youth Forum asked for a correction to their name – 12th May 21

Seven Up Charity asked to be listed in the directory – 1st November 21

Action Taken

New directory of useful contacts created 

 Social Media campaign undertaken + posters created for community resource centres to help to explain the offer 

Name changed to RISE Youth Forum

Seven Up added to directory

Birmingham Children’s Trust Progress Update 

Birmingham Children’s Trust (BCT) have invited the Local Authority and Health partners into the SEND Early Help hub, that is being established and want to deliver early November – this is where professionals can sign post families, offer EHCP advice and the help with navigating the local offer. 

Also, please follow the link https://vimeo.com/600112846/645c6b4225 to hear a podcast from Alison Montgomery, Assistant Director – Disabilities, on the redesign of the Disabled Children’s Service. 

 

How Can You Feed in Your Views? 

If you would like to comment on any of the above, please complete this survey monkey below. We very much want to hear from you.  

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/XLLCWLW