An update from Outreach Manager Sue Thomas

Children England were commissioned by Stoke on Trent Inclusion Service to raise the level of ‘VOICE’ of children and young people in Stoke on Trent facing learning challenges (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities). A guide and toolkit (Listen to My Voice) was released last year, and more than 40 schools and services have attended the workshops. Parent, carers and guardians were also in most.

Within the guide and toolkit we explored motivators, local need and national legislation. Why we need to listen to service users, what are the benefits, challenges and barriers for this cohort.  By breaking down the consultation process we looked at how well organisations enable these children and young people to engage - and what this means for young people (Realism vs Expectation).

As a result of those workshops, additional resources have been developed: ‘Supporting the Engagement of Parents, Carers and Guardians’, which is due for release before the end of this term, and a Toolkit to help practitioners in Stoke-on-Trent to assess the quality of their engagement with children and families where there is learning support or an Education, Health & Care Plan in place.  This toolkit and the quality statements it contains was developed by working with services, children and families - a tradition we intend to continue.

Over the next year, the project will focus on support for children and young people through transitions: how to ensure that they are effectively engaged in services that support them and that those services are working collaboratively with families to ensure that our children, whatever challenges they face that impact on their learning, develop into happy and productive young adults who feel valued.

The project will continue into the next year and will be working with governors, service providers, SENCOs and other services working with young people with SEND.  It will look at transition points, particularly those impacting on post-16 youngsters, to develop a clear picture of ‘How is it now?’ and what needs to be included in the resource ‘Listen To My Voice – Young Adults Matter’. Young people, parents, carers and guardians will, in the course of the year, revise the title and advise on the objectives based on the next round of training and the outcomes, so that it is young people-led and services are supported.

An opportunity for those in Stoke-on-Trent

In Stoke-on-Trent we are now inviting school, college and academy governors, SENCOs, careers staff, managers and indeed third sector trustees to attend the next stage of the training which will be looking to:

  • Identify issues of current legislation and guidance and the impact of that on the way we record and use information / views of children, young people and their families, including those with SEND
  • Enhance understanding of the SEND Code of Practice section 10 requirements, for those to 25 years of age
  • Look at the rights of children and young people to be listened to and what that means in practice for those facing significant challenges to learning
  • Identify the strategic challenges, barriers and successes of getting young people to talk about their realistic aspirations
  • identify what those who are responsible for policy and outcomes for the service feel would need to be included to help schools and other settings where young people with SEND engage, particularly where they are preparing to transition to other services as they become young adults

In addition, we invite learning environments and young adult services, young people and young adults to take part in the ‘Listen to My Voice  - Young Adults Matter’ project through activities and events over the course of the year. If you want to know more or would like involvement with young people in your setting, please contact Sue Thomas.  

We would also be delighted to discuss the project with other local authorities and offer learning from our work in Stoke-on-Trent as a workshop - just get in touch.