SEND Newsletter - February 2020

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Explore the latest news and find out how to have your say on Surrey's Special Educational Needs and Disability services (SEND).

February 2020

New 'Easy Read' version of the SEND Strategy

Surrey County Council, Family Voice Surrey and Cherry Trees have collaborated on an easy read version of the Surrey SEND Partnership Strategy 2019-2022. This version has been created to raise awareness and understanding of the strategy. The document explains the plans that aim to improve the experiences of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).

Benedicte Symcox, Operations Lead at Family Voice Surrey describes how the 'Easy Read' version was created,

'As a parent carer myself, I was really keen to read Surrey County Council's SEND strategy. But the document was long and wordy and I simply didn't have the energy or time to truly understand it!

At Family Voice Surrey, we feel that any strategy about young people with SEND should be accessible by those young people and their families. So we wanted an easy-read version that everyone could read and understand. We contacted Surrey County Council to propose this, and they immediately agreed that it would be a good idea. Cherry Trees, with their expertise of working with young people who struggle to communicate, felt like the ideal third party in this project. We hope you find it helpful.'

This collaborative working helped the document to evolve; after initial partnership meetings, simplifying the wording and length, a draft version was worked on by a specialist easy read company. This was then checked by the committee and members of East Surrey MENCAP and various organisations at the Family Voice Community group and their extremely helpful comments were incorporated into the final document.

The Easy Read version of the SEND Strategy can be found on the Surrey Local Offer.

Home to school/college travel and transport policy

During autumn 2019, Surrey County Council consulted on its home to school/college travel arrangements. Feedback was received from a wide range of sources, all of which was valuable in the creation of the new policy. It was adopted on 31 January 2020 with changes implemented for September 2020.

For more details and to download the new School Transport Policy visit the Surrey Local Offer.

Surrey wants to hear from children and young people

Surrey County Council want to hear from children and young people in Surrey to guide a piece of work for the Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership. It's to inform the future strategy of delivering certain services for children and young people.

The partnership are engaging with children across the county to try and get a benchmark of what key things young people understand, care about, worry about, and are interested in, in relation to their community, health and happiness.

Proposals to open up youth centres for wider use

Currently many of Surrey's existing youth centres are only used a few hours a week. To make better use of these facilities Surrey County Council wants to enable the voluntary, community and faith sector to have increased access, so they can provide services for young people for free or minimal cost. In order to increase and improve the Universal Youth Services Offer, Surrey County Council will stop being the primary provider of this service but instead work alongside voluntary, community and faith sector partners to make improvements in each location.

The youth centres themselves are a valued community asset and can play a larger role in achieving the Community Vision for 2030 that includes community participation as one of its key priorities. Councillor Mary Lewis, lead cabinet member for children, young people and families, said, "We know our existing youth centres are not being used fully. It's about making use of our assets and the experts in the community, voluntary and faith sector to bring these buildings alive again."

The council is now consulting on these proposals to ensure that the youth centres are being used consistently to their full potential.

Have Your Say

The consultation, which runs until 30 April 2020 asks if the council should continue to deliver universal open access youth work and how it could enable the voluntary, community and faith sector to use the youth centres at little or no cost. The full proposals are also available on the Universal Youth Work Consultation page where you can have your say.

Come along to an engagement event

The potential opportunities are unique to each youth centre, so there will be a series of public engagement events to explore the opportunities in each centre. There is no need to book a place in advance as they will be drop-in events with opportunities to ask questions, share ideas and provide feedback. Details on dates and venues can be found on the Universal Youth Work Consultation page.

Complaints, comments and compliments portal

A new online complaints portal is making it clearer and simpler for young people, parents and carers to express any concerns they may have about any areas of children's social care, education and SEND.

Visit the new online complaints portal.

National Autistic Society Surrey Branch news

A volunteer-run, parent-to-parent support group for autistic children and adults, the NAS Surrey Branch organises social events and special interest groups. Amongst the numerous events to look out for over the coming months, find out more details of NAS Workshops for Parents and Carers, an Autism-Friendly Gaming Event in Farnborough and all of the events included in the NAS Surrey Branch Calendar Feb. – April 2020.

Read the NAS Surrey Branch news (Feb.-Mar.).

Down's Syndrome Awareness Week 2020

Every year World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated on 21 March. It is an international event that is celebrated across the world. To celebrate, wear #LotsOfSocks and invite all your friends, family and colleagues to do the same. Down's Syndrome Awareness Week 2020 will take place between 16-22 March and this year's global theme is "We Decide." Read more details on the Down's Syndrome Association website.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and advice

The Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England publish updated information for the public on the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19); this is currently updated every day at 2pm. The information includes the current situation in the UK, information about the virus and its symptoms, as well as Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice.