3.1 What is the Local Offer?
Local Authorities have a legal responsibility to publish a Local Offer describing information about the provision they expect to be available across education, health and social care for children and young people in their area who have SEN or are disabled, including those who do not have Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.
The Local Offer has two key purposes:
- To provide clear, up-to-date information about available provision and how to access it.
- To make sure that the provision is responsive to local needs and aspirations by directly involving children and young people, their families and service providers in development and review of the offer.
In order to achieve these objectives, a range of consultation and co-production opportunities will take place on a regular basis with ideas feeding in to a Local Offer Monitoring Group, comprising of parents, young people and professionals, which will ensure that the key purposes above are met.
The Local Offer is published on the Wigan Council website.
Digital platforms may not always be the best way of sharing information and so other formats will be explored on an on-going basis. Both service providers and service users can have an influential role in sharing their knowledge and understanding of what is available locally and how to access it.
3.2 What information does the Wigan Local Offer contain?
The Local Offer will never be a completed resource. It will always be growing and developing, reflecting the changing needs of the local area. The published webpage described above contains links to a number of areas:
- Plan for your child's needs: What is the EHC pathway and how plans are personalised to meet children's needs
- Information, Advice and Support Service: Bringing together parents, schools and services who work with children with SEND
- Preparing for adulthood: Guidance for helping young people with SEND get ready for adulthood
- Education and support: Services to support young people with SEND, school information, jobs and more
- Health and wellbeing: Health services, support for children with disabilities, activity funding and more
- Childcare: Find out about free childcare eligibility, childcare providers and children's centres in the borough
- Professionals: Information and guidance including downloadable documents
- Young persons’ survival guide: Things to do, information about issues that affect you and services to support you
- SEND news and updates: Keep up to date with related news, documents and policies and share your comments.
Should anyone wish to comment on any aspect of the Local Offer there are contact us sections on most of the web pages.
Alternatively, comments could be put in writing and posted to the SENDS Team at: Special Educational Needs and Disability Team, People Directorate: Children and Families, Wigan Council, PO Box 100, Wigan WN1 3DS
The local authority will publish comments if they relate to:
- The content of the Local Offer, which includes the quality of existing provision and any gaps in the provision
- The accessibility of information in the Local Offer
- How the Local Offer has been developed or reviewed.
A summary of comments and responses will be published at least annually.
3.3 The contribution of Education, Health and Social Care to the Local Offer
The Code of Practice (CoP) stipulates who else must contribute to the Local Offer. Schools must publish information about their arrangements for identifying, assessing and making provision for pupils with SEN. The governing bodies of maintained schools and maintained nursery schools and the proprietors of academy schools must publish information on their websites about the implementation of the governing body’s or the proprietor’s policy for pupils with SEN - see Chapter 6 of the SEND Code of Practice (external link).
“Schools should ensure that the information is easily accessible to young people and parents and is set out in clear, straightforward language.”
(Code of Practice, para. 6.81, page 96).
Parents who have participated in consultation events have reiterated this point. In order to assist schools in providing this information, described as the “SEN Information Report” in the CoP, a support document has been devised. It uses a series of questions that parents might reasonably ask about SEND provision. Answers to the questions should cover all the requirements of the SEN Information Report as described in the CoP. To download a copy see the 'related documents' section on the HEFA web page.
The Local Offer must include information about provision made by health professionals for children and young people with SEN or disabilities. Find out more about the health Local Offer.
The Code of Practice describes how this must include:
- Services assisting relevant early years providers, schools and post-16 institutions to support children and young people with medical conditions, and
- Arrangements for making those services which are available to all children and young people in the area accessible to those with SEN or disabilities
The Local Offer must include information about social care services supporting children and young people with SEN or disabilities. This should include:
3.4 Co-production of the Local Offer
Local Authorities must involve children and young people with SEN and disabilities and their families in:
- Planning the content of the Local Offer
- Deciding how to publish the Local Offer
- Reviewing the Local Offer.
Throughout the lead-up to the enactment of the legislative changes in September 2014 parents, children and young people have took part in a variety of groups and forums. These have included formal groups such as the Pathfinder Partnership Group and the Pathfinder Sub-Groups which looked at specific aspects of the legislation, including the Local Offer. There have also been open invitation Focus Groups and training sessions at which there were opportunities to express views around the Local Offer. Many of these views were incorporated into the Local Offer. Two parents also attended a DfE Local Offer event in London.
There have also been wider opportunities for collaboration. Views have been sought through email links on the Disability Data Hub and the Children’s Disability Newsletter. There has also been the contribution of individual families who have been involved in EHC referrals.
Opportunities such as these will be embedded in all future activities where the Local Offer is being reviewed and developed. Such opportunities will include formal groups such as the Local Offer Monitoring Group which will comprise of people from a range of professional background, parents, representatives of external organisations and young people. Other opportunities will continue to be organised through Parent Partnership and Participation Forums.
The publication of the SEND Code of Practice: 0-25 years (2014) provided an exciting opportunity to further develop good practice across Wigan in involving children in decision-making processes and effect wider cultural change in this area. Between 2012 and 2014 several ‘Voice of the Child/Young Person’ pilots were commissioned as part of the Wigan SEND Pathfinder Project. The aim of the pilots was to develop systems around eliciting the Voice of the Child so that participation becomes a process rather than a specific event or project. This process will focus upon supporting young people in expressing their views in order to subsequently influence actions and plans. The projects also further developed our understanding of key factors to consider when eliciting the Voice of the Child/Young Person.
Guidelines were developed in consultation with the Voice of the Child Strategy Group which was commissioned by the SEND Pathfinder Team. The group was attended by professionals from Education, Health and Care. The aim is to provide guidance in engaging with, listening to and involving children and young people in decision-making. It comprises some key tools, from those that have been used extensively in research and clinical practice, to those which professionals have found valuable within their individual casework. Tools have been designed to elicit views on a wide range of topics e.g. school, teaching, learning, keeping healthy, feeling positive, keeping safe, being part of my community, being independent. A full report of this can be found on the Educational Psychology page.
In addition to the engagement of children and young people at an individual level, groups such as The Wigan Youth Parliament and Young Pioneers have an important role to play in the future as we all seek to develop improved life experiences and outcomes for children and young people with SEND.