Skip to main contentAccessibility Statement
This article is more than 1 year old

SEND families shape future approach for improving outcomes for young people across West Northants

Early years, schools and education

05 July 2023

A child with Paint on his hands

Hundreds of people including families, school and health professionals have come together to produce a fresh three-year strategy to improve outcomes for children with special educational needs and disabilities in West Northamptonshire.

Members of West Northamptonshire Council’s (WNC) Cabinet will meet on Tuesday 11 July to consider the new draft Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) Strategy, which sets out the key priorities towards better meeting the needs of all families up to 2026.

The strategy has been co-produced with the involvement of more than 800 people, including young people, parents, carers and health and education professionals, who attended over 20 engagement sessions and provided over 3,000 pieces of feedback.

The joint approach has involved a range of partners led by WNC’s SEND Improvement Team and the Northampton Parents Forum Group alongside local education, health and care providers from across the area.

The strategy focuses on six priority areas towards ensuring better outcomes for SEND families over the next three years as West Northants, like many other local authority areas nationally, tackles the challenges towards addressing a lack of specialist school places against a rising additional demand of 20% each year. Priorities include:

  • Accessibility – ensuring admission for specialist schools and units is based on need and location, improving accessibility of transport and being clearer in how partners communicate with families
  • Resources – ensuring there are enough high-quality SEND services and places, which are jointly planned and delivered so children and young people can stay within their local communities wherever possible.
  • Identification and Assessment – continuously improving the timeliness of assessments and reviews, and that partners provide joined-up support so that children and young people can effectively transition between settings and services.
  • Training – providing training so that children and young people receive the right support, in the right place and at the right time within their inclusive communities and developing a shared understanding of SEND across all partners so they can identify needs early
  • Alternative Provision – co-producing and putting in place an Alternative Provision (AP) Strategy to reduce the number of suspensions and permanent exclusions
  • Preparation for Adulthood - providing training so all partners effectively support young people prepare for adulthood from the earliest stages, as well as developing and delivering supported internships and apprenticeships are accessible for SEND and AP young people.

A detailed action plan is also being developed with partners to underpin the new strategy, which the SEND Improvement Board will be responsible for ensuring delivery and holding partners to account. WNC’s Children’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee will also play a key role in shaping and influencing the delivery of the priorities through its SEND Task and Finish Group.

This new strategy ensures a true co-production approach towards tackling the challenges we face around ensuring improved outcomes for children with SEND in West Northamptonshire.

It has been so important from the very beginning to actively involve children and young people, their parents, carers and health and education professionals in creating this strategy so that it reflects the very real needs and priorities of all SEND families and how partners can support them effectively in the years ahead.
Cllr Fiona Baker, WNC’s Cabinet Member for Children, Families, Education and Skills

The Council continues to make progress against its action plan to address ongoing challenge of increasing SEND placements to help ensure better outcomes for families across West Northamptonshire. As part of its commitment, several new provision schemes have been created or are now under way since late last year including:

  • November 2022: the opening of 20 places at Hunsbury Park primary school as part a new autism spectrum disorder (ASD) unit for children in foundation stage, early years and key stage 1.
  • January 2023: 10 places created at Hardingstone Academy for pupils in key stage 2 with autism spectrum disorder. This department is for children who need mainstream curriculum and provides that access to this provision as and when they are ready.
  • February 2023: 10 places provided at Castle Academy for pupils in key stage 1 and foundation / early year pupils.
  • February 2023: building work started at Moulton School and Science College for pupils with ASD and will provide an additional 30 places in January 2024.
  • Autumn 2023: consultation is underway for phase two of Hunsbury Park primary school at the Chiltern site to be completed which will see an additional 45 places for primary age children with ASD.
  • Plans to open the new Special school in Tiffield are progressing with detailed design work underway between the Council, Greenwood Multi Academy Trust and developers.

The Council has also introduced new ‘SEND Ranges’ which provide a set standard for each child or young person in an education setting to better outline what support is needed based on children’s individual needs or behaviours.

To view the draft SEND and AP strategy along with all other Cabinet reports, visit WNC’s website.

Want the latest Council news delivered straight to your inbox?