Reviewing South Gloucestershire’s SEND Local Offer
From listening to feedback from parents and carers, we know there are issues with our SEND Local Offer for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities and their families. The current resource is not easy to use and fails to provide the information parents and carers want and need. That is why we have been working on developing a new SEND Local Offer with the support of South Glos Parents and Carers.
The engagement sessions we held with parents and carers in autumn 2018 focussed on the development of the SEND local offer as a standalone piece of work. At these sessions, examples of other local offer websites were reviewed and we received some really helpful feedback about these and what people wanted from an improved SEND local offer, including:
- “You don’t always know what you’re looking for most of the time. Please think of this re searches and design layout.”
- “When I click on a webpage I want to find content that provides me with information. Often I can’t find the info I need to help me understand.”
- “I want more information on Education Health and Care plans and how to apply.”
- “I want to be able to find information about schools and colleges and special schools from other areas.”
- “I want to find concise information in one easy place, not to have to read pages of text to find what I want.”
- “I want to know more about the activities that my child can attend and also anything we can do as a family.”
- Parents preferred for the SEND Local Offer to be written for young people and for parent carers.
As the project progressed, we realised that users needed an all-age solution so that they can access both SEND specific information and general information for themselves, their children and families.
We are therefore developing the SEND local offer as one ‘channel’ of information of a new ‘Find information for adults, children and families’ website. The feedback from the SEND Local Offer engagement sessions are central to the aims of the website: ensuring access to information in a couple of clicks; clear and concise content; easy to navigate, well organised information and uncluttered and tidy pages.
We needed to make sure the new website was as easy to use as possible. When we looked closer at the example sites that were considered during the early SEND local offer engagement sessions we found many of these to be poor at allowing users find to the content they were looking for. Therefore when planning our new site we looked at recognised design standards and best practice to develop a structure and layout which will help those visiting our site to find the information they require quickly and easily.
This has been a significant shift in the scope of the project, and one which has resulted in unavoidable delays that have been necessary to ensure the new website meets the quality and usability standards which will benefit people who use it.
Co-producing the SEND local offer with parents and carers
We have been working closely in co-production with parents and carers, council teams and our partner organisations to develop the content on our new website. For the initial launch, this content will be based on the identified priority information needs of users. Over time we will expand the amount of content available on the website.
We had originally intended to deliver the new site earlier in September 2019. In order to complete user testing with SEND parents and carers, we will now launch the site on 30 September 2019.
What you can expect
The new ‘Find information for adults, children and families’ website will launch as a ‘BETA’ website. This means that there will be opportunities for users to feedback and contribute to the ongoing development of the website.
From October 2019, you will be able to browse the improved SEND local offer as one of three advice and guidance channels on the site:
- Children and families
- SEND Local Offer
- Adult care
For launch we have focussed on including the information that is most important for users under each channel. Within the SEND local offer this will include information about education health and care plans (EHCPs) and what support is available for parents and carers.
All information contained on the website has been written in a ‘user friendly’ way which means those browsing or searching can answer any questions they have as quickly as possible.
Alongside each of the channels will be a searchable directory. As the site grows this directory will also be developed to contain a wider range of services, organisations, events, activities for children, young people, SEND and family services, as well as those for adults and older people. For launch the directory will include core information, including registered childcare providers (replacing our current One Big Database directory)
Thank you for your patience whilst we improve the SEND Local Offer and thank you to everyone who is helping and supporting us with this important work.