Under Section 30 of the Children and Families Act 2014, all local authorities are required to produce a ‘Local Offer’. This is a central web location for finding information about local education, health and social care provision and opportunities available to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
East Sussex County Council Inclusion and Special Educational Needs and Disability services (ISEND), commissioned two parent carer workshops in Eastbourne and Hastings in March 2020 to develop an improved Local Offer. The workshops were designed to identify what information, within the scope of the Local Offer do parent carers need, where they currently look for this information; the success of this process and how it might be improved.
The workshops were created in such a way as to encourage open discussion whilst ensuring the group remained on topic and simply explored their experiences of searching for information and how that could be improved.
Attendees enjoyed the experience and were grateful for the opportunity to share their experiences and felt that they were listened to.
A number of the attendees met fellow parent carers for the first time and exchanged contact information in order to meet up after the event which was an unexpected benefit of the workshops.
From our point of view as the facilitators of the workshops, we found them really uplifting experiences and were in awe of some of the stories of the parents and carers and their children.
From the findings, we were able to provide recommendations for improvements. Some of these recommendations were instantly actionable so attendees and the wider parent carer community could see that change was occurring.
Communication has improved via more regular email newletters and included a wider range of content.
The website is undergoing an overhaul of the content and an eventual rebuild to make it more user friendly is in the pipeline.
The events were also an opportunity for the Local Offer team to answer questions about the help that was available to the parent carers and at times there were services already in place that the parent carers were simply unaware of.
We were pleased to work with Tom and his associate Becci on two workshops for parent carers of children with disabilities, exploring their web information needs. The participants responded well to Tom and Becci’s activities and we were able to gain a lot of insight giving us a good basis for the redevelopment of our website.
Local Offer Development Manager
Inclusion, Special Educational Needs and Disability Services (ISEND)