Preparation for SEND Area Inspection

Ofsted/CQC have begun a new cycle of SEND Area inspections.

The focus of the inspection is very much on experiences and outcomes for children, young people. The key evidence we will need to provide is on impact – what difference are we making to the outcomes and experiences of CYP and their families.

The Ofsted/CQC Framework evaluates provision in relation to two key aspects:

  • Impact of our partnerships’ SEND arrangements on experiences and outcomes
  • How effectively we work together to plan, evaluate and develop our SEND system

To prepare for inspection the we need to be able to articulate as a partnership but also individually as schools and services 3 key questions:

What do we know about the impact of our arrangements for children and young people with SEND?

How do we know what impact our arrangements for children and young people with SEND are having?

What are our plans for the next 12 months to improve the experiences and outcomes of children and young people with SEND?

 We are drafting a SEND Area self evaluation and an essential part of that is the views of children and young people and their parents and carers.

To support engagement with parents we have created a page on the Local Offer where parents can find out more and provide feedback. We are also hoping to talk directly to as many parent groups as possible so please share this link with parents in your networks

Area SEND Self Evaluation – Local Offer Birmingham

Free Early Years WellComm Training

The Birmingham Early Years Network website provides valuable information for early years and childcare providers.  By subscribing to the website, you will receive newsletters, updates, reminders and information about upcoming events straight to your inbox.

Early Years Network Mailing list

Upcoming Fully Funded Early Years WellComm Training

Which one is for me?

The introduction to WellComm workshop will explain how to get started on your Wellcomm journey. It will provide information on how to effectively screen children accurately and show you how to use the toolkit and the big book of ideas to carry out interventions to support children’s communication and development.

WellComm What Next? If you are already using Wellcomm but require more support on how to deliver, screen and use the toolkit please sign up to our WellComm What Next training. This will provide you with Information about ongoing support and data collection. We will share tips and good practice for WellComm screening, tools to collate your WellComm screening results and embedding WellComm into your everyday practice.

Introduction to Wellcomm

Introduction to Wellcomm Tickets, Multiple Dates | Eventbrite Wed 18th Oct 2023 at 16:00

Introduction to WellComm Tickets, Wed 8 Nov 2023 at 10:00 | Eventbrite

Introduction to Wellcomm Tickets, Thu 18 Jan 2024 at 10:00 | Eventbrite

WellComm What Next

WellComm What Next Tickets, Wed 11 Oct 2023 at 17:00 | Eventbrite

Wellcomm what next Tickets, Thu 14 Dec 2023 at 10:00 | Eventbrite

Wellcomm What Next? Tickets, Wed 24 Jan 2024 at 17:00 | Eventbrite

WellComm data returns

The WellComm data submission for autumn term is 31st December 2023. You can enter WellComm data using the below link or QR code.

The Balanced System is now live – updates from the SALT team

Speech and Language Therapy (SaLT) are in a period of transition as Birmingham moves to a Balanced System® approach to supporting speech, language and communication needs. The school age service is now aligned to six locality teams and 95% of schools have been allocated a Link Speech and Language Therapist to work with schools to develop and deliver provision for speech, language and communication. The SaLT service has over 2000 school age children with open referrals and there will be a focus on supporting these children, whilst working with schools to develop a whole school graduated approach to SLCN support using the 3 levels and the 5 strands of the Balanced System® framework.

Each locality has a School Age Coordinator (SACo) whose role is to manage the staff and the SaLT service within the schools in the locality. SACo’s have emailed every school individually to give them the name and contact details of their link therapist who are in the process of making contact with SENCOs and starting school visits. There are however a small number of schools without a link therapist, due to a number of vacancies across the city, but SaLT are actively out to recruitment for these.

In the meantime, these schools can call the SaLT Advice Line with any clinical queries on 0121 466 6231.

General queries can be directed to the SaLT admin team on or to the School Age Coordinator (SACo) within their locality.

Talking Makaton: Do you have CYP with Makaton, Total Communication approaches or Augmentative and Alternative Communication identified in their EHCP?


The SEND Advisory services have a new offer for Makaton training which will support Birmingham’s aim to develop an inclusive, holistic approach to developing speech, language and communication skills across the city.

Research proves that Makaton supports the development of interaction and communication and encourages more vocalisations, speech sounds and eventually, words.   It also supports the development of essential communication skills such as attention and listening, comprehension, memory, recall and organisation of language and expression.  It can also help to reduce frustration for those who find communication with others challenging.

The initial roll out of training will focus on ensuring that schools have the appropriate knowledge, understanding and expertise to deliver the provision in current EHCPs, where Makaton, Total Communication approaches or Augmentative and Alternative Communication are listed in Section F.  A variety of different training options will be available with Makaton Level 1 courses delivered at a cost of £60 per person (not including manual) for a centre-based course – schools wishing to access this for groups of staff will be able to purchase this training as a whole day or series of twilights at the usual training costs (not including manuals).   Training is limited to 15 delegates maximum per group.

A brief questionnaire will be sent out to all schools following this briefing, asking for the number of pupils in their setting who have an EHCP where these approaches are listed in section F.  Schools will need to return the questionnaire to access the training.

Training for Makaton Level 2 will also be available following the initial roll of level 1.

For further information please contact Ali Ayres

Supported Internship Programme

BCC, Children’s and Families Directorate 14-19 Full Participation and Skills Team are offering a Supported Internship Programme (SI). This is a structured work-based study programme that aims to support young people 16 to 24 year-olds with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) who have an Educational Health and Care Plan. (EHCP).

The aim of the programme is a substantial work placement, which aims to ensure that young people with additional needs can enter into supported internship programmes that lead to paid employment.

Each programme will last for a period of 12 months. We have been successful in obtaining funding for  3 consecutive years up to 2025. The Interns will be with Heart of Birmingham Vocational College based at Woodcock Street who will support the interns with their curriculum aiding their learning and training, and Royal Mencap who will provide Job Coaches to support the intern to learn tasks associated with the role and to find employment.

We currently have placements in Business Support Services, Day and Care Centres and I am exploring opportunities for interns in all areas of the council.

If you are interested in the programme from a host placement perspective or you know any young people who would be interested, please contact Dee Jolly

Supported Internship Flyer

Guidance for Ordinarily Available Provision

What do we mean by OAP? Ordinarily available provision refers to the activities, experiences, and strategies that are ordinarily available within the existing resource within mainstream settings for all children and young people, including those with SEND.

In this first instance, this is for school-age CYP but we want to start working on an Early Years version of this.

The purpose of this guidance is to support all our education settings to put in place inclusive practice that benefits every child and young person, and especially those with SEND. The guidance can:

  • Be used as reference for identifying and effectively responding to the needs of children and young people with SEND.
  • Be used by SENCos to support staff in the classroom on strategies, interventions etc.
  • Support SENCos and school leaders to identify needs /capacity building in their setting that SEND advisory teams/EPS/other partners and agencies can support with.

By setting out the expectations in this guidance, we aim to encourage consistency between all our schools and settings across Birmingham.

The guidance has been co-produced:

  • with SENCos through a Task and Finish Group during the Spring and Summer term ’23
  • focus activities in SENCo Networks in the same time frame
  • shared with SENCos view the T&F newsletter asking for views and considerations.
  • Shared with SENCo Consortia leads as an additional stakeholder group.
  • SEND advisory services and EPS colleagues have been part of the T&F group and have contributed to additional strategies and provision ideas.
  • Main section based on the first three Ranges within the Top-Up guidance that was co-produced with schools in 2021-22.

The guidance is written with professionals in mind, but we also hope that it will help parents, carers, children, and young people to better understand our approach to providing support for children and young people with SEND who do not have an Education, Health, and Care plan (EHCP).

Other important facts about the Guidance developed:

  • The Guidance is not a checklist or auditing tool; while many settings will be able to apply most of the ideas contained within, we recognise that not all settings will be able to implement everything.
  • The Guidance provides a comprehensive but not exhaustive list of useful strategies and resources that can signpost schools or settings to ideas to meet the individual needs of children and young people.
  • The Guidance is also a work in progress; the guidance is currently draft and while this will be available to all schools, there will be a research project to test this out with groups of schools to ensure it is a supportive piece.

We will be launching the Ordinarily Available Guidance at the November SENCo Network briefings.

New SENCo Briefing

We are delighted to invite to all new SENCos to a briefing on Thursday 26th October 2023 1 -3pm; this is aimed at SENCos who are either new to the SENCo role this term or experienced SENCos new to post within Birmingham.

The aim of the briefing is to introduce SENCos to the senior leaders within the LA SEND teams as well as to representatives from the Local SENCo Consortia groups.

The afternoon will give an opportunity to:

  • Find out who the SEND teams are and what support they are offering,
  • Have an overview of the Birmingham funding system,
  • Understand the Local area SENCo groups,
  • Understand the LA communication process to SENCos,
  • Learn about the Balanced system approach to SALT across the city,
  • Find out who the SEND OT locality therapists are and what they offer,
  • Network with other SENCos.

Click here to sign up to the SENCo briefing

The Council House have kindly offered to host this event for us and the team will be providing light refreshments on arrival.  A place has been reserved for each new SENCO and am email link will be sent out to confirm whether they would like to attend.

For further information, please contact Heather Wood, Head of SEND Advisory Services at

SENAR update around Quality Assurance Work

 Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) Task and Finish Group

The EHCP Task and Finish Group initially met in June 2023, forming an overarching Steering Group, a Chairs group and four separate Focus Groups.

Focus Group 1 – Representatives from SENAR’s Quality and Improvement Oversight Group

Focus Group 2 – Multi-agency Audit Group

Focus Group 3 – EHCP Group

Focus Group 4 – Annual Reviews (ARs) and Person-Centred Planning Group

Focus Groups 2 to 4 are multi-agency and their tasks are identified through interrogation of the monthly audit feedback and following direction from the Steering Group.

The purpose of the Task and Finish Group is to determine a multi-agency understanding of what a ‘good’ EHCP looks like.

Actions undertaken to date include:

  • Identifying the principles of a ‘good’ EHCP; the blockers and recommendations for improvement
  • What is viewed as ‘good’ quality in terms of quantification in Section F?
  • Identifying what ‘good’ professional advice should look like
  • Identifying what ‘good’ quality looks like in Sections A and B
  • Exploring how good quality assessment advice translates into a ‘good’ EHCP
  • Identifying what ‘good’ quality looks like in AR reports

Some of the main recommendations include:

  • Provide updated AR guidance
  • Developing guidance on
  • Gathering the voice of children and young people
  • Mental Health needs and provision
  • Preparing for Adulthood

QA Audit Activity

SENAR’s QA activity commenced in July 2023 – some earlier activity had been undertaken, however it lacked consistency. SENAR QA activity is recorded on Invision 360’s EHCP QA audit tool, used by 30 other Local Authorities (LAs), which enables LAs to benchmark their QA activity against one another.

The service is currently completing in excess of 80% of their monthly audit forecast. The percentage of plans that are deemed to be ‘good’ or better is increasing – although the percentage is much higher for first time plans.

A piece of focussed thematic audit activity, is currently being undertaken, on EHCPs where the decision taken following AR was ‘no action.

Birmingham Parent Carer Forum

Birmingham Parent Carer Forum is a voluntary group of Birmingham Parent Carers whose purpose is to become the bridge between services and families and a collective voice representing all members and all disabilities.

We aim to build strong and sustainable links between our Local authority, ICB and The Children’s Trust and our vision for Birmingham is that it is a place where every SEND child & adult is heard & valued, where services are timely & accessible, and where parents & carers work together with professionals to provide positive opportunities for all.

As a forum we have recently been looking at new ways we can engage with the parents and carers of Birmingham, one of the ways we have been doing this is by attending coffee mornings and parent support groups as well as sharing a short survey for parents to complete.

We are looking for new Parent Carers to sign up to become members of the forum so that we can increase our reach across the city and accurately represent the Parent Carer voice in Birmingham. Becoming a member will add Parent Carers to our mailing list where we share important news, updates, resources and training opportunities as well as surveys to capture experiences and gather feedback. We also welcome any Parent Carer who would like to sign up to become a Parent Representative and attend meetings or projects on behalf of the Forum, this role is completely flexible and can be worked to fit in with Parent Carers existing schedules. I have attached our latest flyer which has more information about the role and how to sign up.

Below are the links to our Membership sign up form which will add parent carers to our mailing list and our recent survey.

Sign up form Survey Parent Carer Forum Flyer

Birmingham SEN Toolkits; Models of use impact project

Pupil and School Support (PSS) are undertaking a research project to review the impact of the Birmingham SEN Toolkits and to identify which model of use impacts most positively on rates of progress. The findings of the project will enable all school leaders and teachers to understand how to make the best use of the Birmingham SEN toolkits. PSS are keen to work with approximately 60 schools from a cross-section of the city that are using the toolkits in a variety of ways to share their naturally occurring anonymised data. Based on the outcome of the project, PSS will provide each contributing school with a bespoke consultation and support to develop the schools’ toolkit practice further. If you would like to contribute to this project, please express your interest by providing a brief description of how you use the toolkits. Please click this link to complete the FORM by 12pm on 27th October.

For further information please contact Lisa McIntyre

SENCO Network Briefings

Autumn 2023

 Our refreshed SENCo Network briefings are planned for the beginning of November. These 90-minute sessions will be hosted through MS Teams and will be a two-item agenda i.e:

1.Launching the Guidance around Ordinarily Available Provision.

Ordinarily available provision refers to the activities, experiences, and strategies that are ordinarily available within the existing resource within mainstream settings for all children and young people, including those with SEND.

The purpose of this guidance is to support all our education settings to put in place inclusive practice that benefits every child and young person, and especially those with SEND. The briefing will be focusing on how this guidance can be:

  • used as reference for identifying and effectively responding to the needs of children and young people with SEND.
  • used by SENCos to support staff in the classroom on strategies, interventions etc.
  • used by SENCos and school leaders to identify support /capacity building in their setting that SEND advisory teams/EPS/other partners and agencies can support with.

2.Preparation for Ofsted/CQC Inspection

Ofsted/CQC have begun a new cycle of SEND Area Inspections. Schools can expect to be visited by inspectors and this session will provide a briefing on the new inspection framework, the inspection activity and what to expect when we get the call.

Dates for Network briefings:

The agenda items and city-wide content of each briefing will be the same. Please choose the date and time which is best for you and follow the link to book onto one of these sessions.

Upcoming Training Events

Educational Psychology:

Supervision in Schools  Providing safe and protected space for reflective discussion. The aim of this supervision is  to support the individual or group in their role. Schools can seek more information from their visiting EP about access to this via their current traded hours.

Pupil & School Support:

Toolkit Tracker training – The Toolkit Progress Tracker is an online tool built around the Birmingham SEN Language and Literacy and Mathematics Toolkits that enable schools to: track and analyse individual, group and whole school toolkit data to demonstrate and report progress for those pupils working below their year group expectations; to systematically access teaching and learning activities to support planning provision; to produce documents at the click of a button to report to SMT, Governors, Ofsted.

Training around the interpretation of Toolkit Progress Tracker data – to support the strategic provision management process training. Course attendees will develop an understanding of how to interpret their Toolkit Progress Tracker data to support a strategic provision management process.

Person-Centred Review (PCR) Facilitator Training (Thursday 16th/Friday 17th November 2023) – two-day course which provides professionals with a range of person-centred tools to develop pupil voice and parental engagement, and full training for facilitation of Person-Centred Reviews (PCRs). This course is for Education, Health and Social Care professionals, working with young people and their families, who wish to increase parental engagement and ensure the views of children and young people are gathered and used effectively. Click here to book your place: Person-Centred Review (PCR) Facilitator Training November 2023 – Access to Education (

For more information please email

Sensory Support and Physical Difficulties (SSPD)

Hearing Support Team course – ‘Deaf Awareness in Education’ (Online Module) – The Hearing Support Team are pleased to offer a short introductory course that is recommended to all staff who work with a child with hearing loss in school.

The course covers:

  • an overview of how the ear works
  • types and degrees of hearing loss
  • types of personal hearing technology
  • implications of hearing loss in education
  • how radio aids help children with hearing losses
  • strategies for the classroom

It can be accessed via the Local Offer:

Physical Difficulties courses – The Physical Difficulties Team are pleased to offer a range of courses to enable settings to ensure inclusivity for children and young people with physical difficulties:

  • Including pupils with Cerebral Palsy in Secondary Schools

Monday 6th November 2023.  3.30pm-5.00pm

  • Including pupils with Physical Difficulties in Early Years

Thursday 9th November 2023.  3.30pm-5.00pm

  • Including pupils with Cerebral Palsy Diplegia in Primary Schools

Tuesday 14th November 2023.  3.30pm-5.00pm

  • Inclusive PE consultation sessions via Teams.

Bespoke 20 mins slots booked by school with PDSS

These courses can currently be booked via this link:

Physical Difficulties Support Service – Access to Education (

Communication & Autism Team:

The Communication and Autism Team are pleased to offer a range of Autism Education Trust courses designed to enable settings to improve inclusion for their autistic children and young people. All materials are co-produced with autistic young people, education staff, parents and the major UK autism charities. The attached fliers give further detail on the following training modules available – for further information please contact Wendy peel at

AET Leadership, Inclusion and Structural Reasonable Adjustments – course for EYS and for school age

AET Good Autism Practice – courses for EYS settings, primary and secondary schools

AET Progression Framework

AET Schools Anxiety