Derby's Inspire and Include blog
Welcome to the first of a new series of blogs from professionals, parents, and young people in the city. We want to use these blogs as a chance to tell you more about the work we’re doing in partnership as a local area, and to celebrate the many great things that are happening in our city.
We'll be updating our blog on a regular basis, so please keep checking here for the latest information.
18 October 2021
Everybody is a genius! But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid
At Derby SENCO Advice Line (SAL) we champion SENCOs in Derby. We do this because what SENCOs do, on a daily basis, changes lives for children and young people with SEND. The quote above from Albert Einstein, (who as you may know was on the Autism Spectrum himself) really shows the value of a child-centred approach to SEND. Yes, there are obstacles to learning, challenges to overcome and changes that will need to be made but, as happens all over the city, when a child is shown how to use their strengths to achieve their potential - rather than focussing on difficulties or what cannot be done - SENCOs enable children and young people to reach their dreams and fulfil their best potential.
So what do we do at Derby SAL? In a nutshell, we support SENCOs. We provide a safe space to stop and think about a child or young person as an individual. What are the obstacles? What does the school or setting need to do? Who can help and what strengths can be built upon?
Our work includes:
- support with reviewing the interventions and provisions in place for individual children and young people – so that success can be built upon whilst helping to build a robust plan for the future.
- advice and support for whole school issues, such as training or resources.
- being a voice for SENCOs, reporting back to Senior Managers the challenges and obstacles that SENCOs need assistance and identifying gaps in local services.
- signposting to services in the Local Offer that can support the School or the CYP
- linking up SENCOs with professionals or other SENCOs who specialise in something to support them with their enquiry
- providing information regarding any area of SEND or process and finding and sharing resources.
Our week is so varied, our priority obviously is taking calls and answering emails from SENCOs – sometimes all that’s needed is a simple solution and other times on-going consultations are arranged to support the SENCO as the situation develops. We have helped SENCOs to find training for teachers and teaching assistants, supported them to apply for funding and facilitated conversations between schools and SEND services to achieve better outcomes. We have supported SENCOs new to post or new to the city, introducing them to the way the city’s Inclusion Services connect and how to access them. We also attend EHCP Panel and support schools with recommendations based thereon. We also make a point to reach out to local charities, support groups, professionals and organisations; creating links for future joint working, and learning more about what they do.
As a relatively newly-formed service, it has been a total pleasure to get to know so many SENCOs and professionals and to work with them. We are so excited about lots of exciting new projects and ideas for Derby SAL further down the line to support school SENCOs even more.
Damaris Gordon and Claire Eyre – Project Officers for Derby SENCO Advice Line
16 August 2021
In our first blog, Daniel Marson, SEND Manager talks about our vision for SEND – 'Living My Best Life':
I’ve seen lots of discussion on forums and social media over the past few days about our vision for SEND in Derby – ‘Living my best life’. Some of you will have noticed this slogan and our logo appearing on plans, forms, and webpages. There’s been a wide variety of views expressed about whether it’s right that we put this vision on the front of our EHCPs. Is it patronising, or inspiring? Is it a kick in the teeth for families who have fought for services, or acknowledgement that we want to do better?
Well here’s my take, and why I think we’re right to put this vision onto the front of EHC plans, and in doing so, to celebrate our hopes and wishes for young people in the city.
I know that many of you reading this blog will remember poor experiences of accessing services for yourself or your child. In fact, I know that some of you will still be having these experiences now. No one working in SEND in Derby is ignorant to the challenges that you have faced in the past or those that still exist. I know that these challenges have been even greater over the past 18 months.
But we all want to change that.
Living my best life is a vision that was co-produced by parents and young people in the city to do just that. It is about being forward looking and aspirational, dreaming of being the best version of yourself, and striving to achieve your potential. It’s a vision that we can all sign up to, regardless of whether we have special educational needs and disabilities or not. And that’s the point. For some young people in the city, their ‘best life’ will be different to others, and that’s fine, but as services, and as a city, we must be there to help them to achieve it, whatever ‘it’ looks like.
One of the mechanisms we have for this is the EHCP. An EHCP is something that should be about looking forwards, and about achieving outcomes. I know that too often they aren’t and we are working really hard to fix this. In the meantime, the ‘living my best life’ logo is there to remind us all of what we are working towards – it’s the ultimate outcome in every plan we write. If our EHC plans can’t strive to this outcome then they aren’t doing what we want them to, and we need to be held to account for this. When I think of this and our vision, I’m reminded of an event we held at Pride Park back in early 2020 where we developed a lot of our thinking on this. The stars of the event were a group of young people from St Giles Special School. One of these young people stood up in front of the room and proudly declared ‘if we work together, anything is possible’. Of course, he was right. The vision is about just that, working together to help everyone to live their best life.
So, it’s not intended to be patronising but aspirational. It’s not about ignoring past failures but about holding each other to account for our future outcomes and dreams.