Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group have set out their commitments to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in a strategy document approved by councillors.

The Inclusion Strategy sets out Sheffield’s plans to provide more high quality provision to meet the growing demand for services; reduce waiting times for specialist support; provide training to schools and nurseries so that they have the knowledge and skills to identify needs early and provide key workers for the most vulnerable children.

Abtisam Mohamed, cabinet member for education and skills at Sheffield City Council said: “We want our young people to have access to the right support at the right time when they need so that they can be as independent as possible.

“Our vision is that we are able to act early to identify, assess and meet needs, work in partnership and establish integrated and locally based processes and services that make Sheffield a more inclusive city.

“Following the local area inspection in November 2018, we have been working hard across the city to improve the services and expectations of children with SEND. We know that there is still much to do. This strategy written with young people, parents, front line professionals and leaders is our plan to make sure everyone has confidence in our ability to meet the needs of young people and their families.”

Dr Anthony Gore,  GP and Clinical Director for Children, Young People and Maternity at NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said “Feedback from children, young people and their families made it clear that we can do better in making sure they are at the centre of all decision making and that services meet their needs in a timely and co-ordinated manner. Based on all the research, consultation activity and feedback we have received we have developed a number of commitments in partnership with Sheffield City Council to change the way we work. We are confident that we can make a difference for young people in our city and make Sheffield a truly inclusive place to grow up and live, no matter what needs they may have.”

Katie Monette, chair of the Sheffield Parent Carer Forum said: “ Many parents have told us that previous SEND strategies had very little impact on their children and we believe that the best way to avoid this happening again is to have a strong, coproduced action plan with clear timescales, accountable officers, and success criteria.

“Our forum was involved in coproducing this strategy and we want to continue to be involved in developing and monitoring this action plan to ensure that things really do improve for families in Sheffield. We will continue to act as a critical friend to both the council and the CCG.”