Raising awareness of reforms for children with complex needs

Picture caption: (l-r) "Cllr Lisa Mulherin executive member for health and wellbeing with Aimee Grayson - who spoke at the conference and Cllr Jane Dowson, lead member for children and families."

Children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities, and their families, are to be more involved in decisions made about their lives, through changes being implemented by Leeds City Council as part of national reforms.

At an event at Leeds Civic Hall, elected members and school governors heard how the council and its partners will be implementing some of the biggest changes to services, seen in recent years, for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

The reforms, which will be introduced from September, will see improved services for families with children with complex needs. They follow the introduction of the Children and Families Act 2014, which became law in March this year.

People who attended the conference heard that the new act will make education, health and social care services more ‘joined up’ for children and young people with complex needs and their families, so that they only have to ‘tell their story once’. This will include changes to how children and young people with the most complex needs have their needs assessed and how plans are made to meet those needs. The new laws will also give families more choice and control about the services they access, and more opportunities to get involved in planning services for the future.

Councillor Jane Dowson, lead member for children and families said:

“These reforms prompt a major shift in culture and practice amongst those working with children and young people with Special Educational needs and Disabilities, and their families. Reminding us that parents and carers know their children and young people best and that children and young people themselves are often highly aware of the their own needs and clear about their aspirations.

“The emphasis on the importance of listening to children and young people and their families, valuing and honouring their views, and working in partnership with them to make decisions and plan for the future, very much echoes our own ambition to make Leeds a child friendly city. As well as reinforcing our local approach of restorative practice and working with families, rather than doing things ‘for’ or ‘to’ them.

“As part of our implementation of these reforms we will be looking to personalise our services in recognition of every families’ unique individual strengths, challenges, and circumstances and develop new ways of working to assess and plan for support of those with the most complex needs.”

Those who attended the conference heard how the council and its partners will work closely with parents and carers as they prepare to implement the Act, ensuring they are involved at all levels including the highest level of strategic decision making. Children and young people with SEND have also been supported to have input into decision making in a way that meets their needs.

The council is keen to raise awareness of these changes and has already organised conferences, briefings and drop-ins for practitioners of all kinds, and has been sending out a regular newsletter to all partners, using short films, blog and social media to promote awareness.

People can find out more about how partners across education, health and social care are working with parents and carers and children and young people with SEND to make the new laws happen here in Leeds on our webpage at www.leeds.gov.uk/SENDreforms

To find out more or get involved, contact the best practice team via bpteam@leeds.gov.uk.


For media enquiries, please contact:

Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk