Successful event in Rotherham helps children and young people with additional needs and their families

Published Monday, 14th July 2014
Family in the park
A family cycling in the park

Successful event in Rotherham marks a change in law that will help make the lives of children and young people with additional needs, and the lives of their families, be a lot easier.

Putting the genuine partnership principles of the Rotherham Charter into action, the “In It Together” event, held on Friday July 4, was seen as an excellent opportunity for everyone to share knowledge, ideas and ask questions about the new Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) reforms. 

The reforms involve a new assessment process and SEND “Local Offer”, ensuring that all services including schools work together with children, young people and their families and improve communication.  

The changes are being introduced as part of the Government’s Children and Families Act, and aim to create a "personalised" system which is more centred on the needs and wishes of the child or young person and their families, to support their best possible outcomes.

Approximately 600 people attended the event, which was hosted jointly by Rotherham Council, Rotherham Health community and the Rotherham Parents Forum and which gave young people, parents, carers and representatives from schools and service providers who could be affected by the reforms the chance to come together and learn from each other.

The focus of the “In it Together” event was to communicate to young people, parents and carers and practitioners that the reforms involve moving towards a culture in which everybody is working together with greater trust. 

SEND expert and government adviser, Brian Lamb OBE, gave an inspirational key note speech to the packed room in which he emphasised how the Rotherham Charter, chosen as an innovative practice project following the Lamb Inquiry into Parental Confidence in SEN systems, had been a key influence in the SEND legislation promoting genuine partnership with young people and families at every level.

Included in the event was a “market place”, representing education, health and care settings, services and providers for children and young people aged up to 25 and their families which was described as “buzzing” and “vibrant” by Kerry Taylor of the Rotherham Parent Partnership Service.

The event also featured two workshops focusing on Working in a “person-centred way” and the new Health, Education and Care plans.

It is hoped that “In it Together” will become an annual occurrence, with the event and feedback from it helping to shape the Rotherham’s SEND Offer year on year.

From September, Rotherham’s local SEND Offer will provide information on what special needs services children, young people and their families can expect from local agencies, including education, health and social care. 

What it contains and how it is published will be developed in partnership with young people and their families. 

Parents and carers attending were all encouraged and enthused by the event. Parent Alison Rowbotham said: “Thank you so much to all involved in organising it and running it today. I can honestly say I have never been to anything like it. 

“I know what an extreme amount of work has gone in to it to raise the profile. Well done everybody it really paid off.

“As for the content today, brilliant! Such strong messages and very empowering for parents, carers and children and young people.”

Councillor John Doyle, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Chair of Rotherham’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: "These reforms have the opportunity to have a real and positive impact on the lives of our young people with additional needs.

“It was great to see so many people attending the event all eager to engage and learn from each other. However, we’re all aware that these are just the first steps and that the process of making Rotherham an even better place for children with additional needs has just begun.

I look forward to taking the next steps along all the partners and parents and especially the next ‘In It Together’ event to see exactly how much we will have achieved.”

Susan Dent, Strategic Lead for Children and Young People’s Therapy Services at the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, added: “Witnessing the energy at the event is encouraging and it really does give a sense of empowerment in ensuring we all work together for the benefit of children and young people, specifically in relation to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) assessment process and the Education, Health and Care Plans.”

To become involved in SEND, or to give any late feedback from the meeting, please email us.

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