Hull’s schools, early years and post 16 settings, Hull City Council education, early help and social care services, health services and parents came together on Wednesday to discuss how we can improve provision for the most vulnerable children in our city.
The SEND (Special educational needs and disabilities) Inclusion Conference at the Village Hotel included discussions and workshops as well as a talk from keynote speaker Tom Bennett, Independent behaviour advisor to the UK Department for Education and founder of researchED, around the theme of inclusion. ResearchED is a grass-roots, teacher-led project which, since 2013, has grown from a tweet to an international conference movement that so far has spanned three continents and six countries.
Alison Murphy, director of children, young people and family services, started the conference by saying, “As a city we have worked to address key issues, but we still know we have a way to go”.
If there was one key message to take from the day it was that only joint-working and a multi-agency approach would improve provision for Hull’s most vulnerable children.
A SEND Board now meets regularly, bringing together agencies from across the city, and £300,000 of extra funding has been allocated by Hull City Council on a permanent basis to support SEND provision.
Alison Murphy said: “Conferences like these are vital if we are to improve the provision and outcomes for children across our city. Only through working together can local authorities, schools, settings, health services and, most importantly, parents, achieve the best possible outcomes for Hull’s most vulnerable young people.
“It was so important to get everybody in the same room to talk, discuss and look at how we can all work together to tackle these challenges collectively.”
Hull is one of the UK’s most academised local authorities, which makes it even more important for integration and information sharing between different agencies and stakeholders in a young person’s development.
As well as having the opportunity to take part in workshops and discuss key issues and hear the keynote speech from Tom Bennett, the conference also heard from pupils and parents of pupils who had been excluded, explaining what they say could have been done differently for them and their children.
Since the last time such a conference was held, there have been a number of positive strides. One being that the proportion of SEND children with exclusions has decreased.
Investment in SEND provision has also seen a brand-new facility open at Bricknell Primary School, the first of its kind in the city. Bricknell Primary has launched a new specialist integrated resource provision that offers 10 pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), whose needs cannot be met in a mainstream school alone, the opportunity to access the benefits of a specialist provision within a mainstream school.
Hull City Council has also submitted a bid to establish a new free special school for 125 pupils, potentially based in the centre of the city. Successful bids are due to be announced in the next few weeks.