22 July 2016

How to make a difference

Imagine a room full of professionals and parents talking about Ofsted and whether they like what Northamptonshire does for children with SEN and disabilities. Then picture Tom (from Shooting Stars, our young people representation group) who is currently on a work experience programme sitting there too and asking us :

“ What about children and young people with special needs who don’t speak English at home?”.

This was a really interesting question and we didn’t know the answer. I asked the county council’s data department for the information. They sent over a spreadsheet with data on it from schools that shows how many children in Northamptonshire for whom English is not their first language have a special educational need as well. 

SEN graphic information 

Not all schools have recorded the languages spoken at home by families, so I can’t tell you what language is used most. Our schools tell us that of the  14,304 children  whose first language is not English 93%  don’t need SEN support in school and  5% (875 children)  get some support in school and 2% (239 children)  have either an  EHC plan or statement.  This is lower than the county percentages for all pupils  For those of you who like maths and statistics,  the school population in Northamptonshire in January 2016  was: 113,337. The DFE provide the national data on their web pages for the country on  and the national SEN figures are also available.

We agreed that we would ask the Saturday Schools in Northampton if we could come along and share information about the support services in Northamptonshire to make sure that the different communities know what services there are in Northamptonshire. Tom will have made a difference to this group of young people and their families.

As you know, the Local Offer is active on social media using Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. We had some comments from parents on social media asking about services in the south of the county – who then invited me over to talk about the Local Offer and the web pages and what they might find on them. I was able to link this group of parents called Special Friends  from Brackley with the member of Action for Children staff who is planning the youth club for 11 to 18 year olds that the Local Authority has commissioned them to organise.  I also put them in touch with a similar group of parents (ACE)  in Kettering to see if they can share ideas. Feedback can make a difference (and everyone said really nice things about my presentation). 

I always talk about our partnership working, and it was really good that the Northants Parent Forum Group representative for the area was there to talk too, and she was able to explain how this group is used by the County Council to influence strategic plans for children and young people with SEN. They have contributed to the latest transport policy (due in September 16), they are currently obtaining parental views on the Carers Strategy. This group of parents really can influence the services that your children receive. Consider joining them and making a difference.

I recently went out to see Shooting Stars again as I needed to ask their advice about terminology around short breaks and respite care. It was interesting that very few of them need to use these services. One of the Stars  thought that I was asking for him to complete “ not another survey”,  We are all aware that no one really likes completing endless surveys, especially if no-one takes any notice. But feedback is always really useful.  I can’t promise to change the services, but I can promise to tell the Commissioners when you send in feedback about them. Let me know what you want  and I will let the Commissioners know.

We have a specific survey for young people to comment on the Local Offer. I am interested in their opinions and would like some ideas about how to make the Local Offer better for them. Get influencing, we do listen!

And finally, as Andy Murray won Wimbledon Championship last week, if there is a budding champion in your family, check out all the tennis groups on the Local Offer. We also have a local tennis champion in Northamptonshire, Dermot Bailey who is a wheelchair player from Kettering . He was at the Great British Tennis weekend event at Abington Park on Saturday as is a member of the GB team, so a good local role model for us to have. Dermot Bailey (GBR) Tennis_151206.jpg

PS: Julia and Leanne have gone Pokémon hunting over the weekend, so watch out as they are both very competitive!​