Parents of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in Torbay are being encouraged to help improve local support services by sharing their views in a new survey.

The survey, called ‘Your experience of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) support in Torbay’ is an online survey which was launched this week.

It follows a recent report from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) that identified significant weaknesses in services for children with SEND and said the council, education and NHS partners must do better.

Members of the newly established SEND Family Voice Torbay are working with Torbay Council, the local NHS and other partners to help bring about improvements in SEND services and say hearing from local families is vital.

SEND Family Voice Torbay is a newly formed and independent Parent Carer Forum recognised by the Department of Education. Co-Chairs, Rebecca Box and Karen Roofe, alongside the steering group, are looking forward to welcoming parents and carers from across the Bay, so that all voices are heard at every point in time. 

Karen said: “By working with all our partners in health, education, and social care on a co-production basis, we want to help create change so that all children with SEND will have the very best life chances.”

The survey comprises of two sets of questions, one for parents and carers of children who access these services, and one for children and young people themselves.

It covers areas including services and activities, health and social care, and SEND support in schools. There will be opportunities for local children, young people and their families to participate in group sessions as part of the engagement programme.

Torbay Council and NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are producing a ‘Written Statement of Action’ to explain how they will improve services and feedback from the survey will be used to inform this work.

Torbay Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Cordelia Law, said: “We want to ensure the voices of parents, carers and children who use SEND services are heard so they can help co-create and co-produce the support and services they want and need.

“Following the latest SEND Inspection, we have taken on board all of Ofsted/CQC’s comments, and we will continue to work closely with our partners to address the issues. We recognise the frustration families must understandably be feeling, and we appreciate whole-heartedly that nobody knows the individual needs of a child as well as their parents and carers. This is why in the next steps of our improvement journey, it is so important that we capture the experiences from people using SEND services so we can drive forward the improvements they require.”

Darryn Allcorn, Chief Nursing Officer, NHS Devon CCG and co-chair of Torbay’s SEND Strategic Board, said: “As partners, we know we haven’t got it right in the past, but we are fully committed to working together from now on to make the improvements needed. The views of families, children and young people will be central to this, we are really pleased that SEND Family Voice Torbay has been reformed to provide a strong voice and we encourage local families who use our services to tell us about their experiences by completing the survey.”

The online survey can be accessed on the consultations page.

The survey will close on April 1 at 5pm and will be anonymous to encourage open and honest feedback.

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