We have been jointly commissioned with Kids to deliver a new national participation programme with disabled children and young people, and children and young people with SEN.
Making Participation Work, funded by the Department for Education for one year, the programme focusses on five key elements to enable effective young people’s participation:
- A practitioner’s survey to assess the extent of young people’s strategic participation
- Three national awareness-raising events to share learning and good practice
- Provision of support to local areas to improve young people’s participation
- A new national young people’s group to provide advice on the SEND reforms to government
- Three pilot regional young people’s engagement participation teams to work with local authorities to develop their participation and share good practice
We have recruited 12 young people from across England to be the SEND national advisory group to the Department for Education. The group has named themselves FLARE (Friendship, Learning, Achieve, Reach and Empower) and come together at regular times during the year to discuss how key aspects of SEND reform policy directly impacts disabled children and young people. FLARE members are passionate about ensuring disabled children and young people have an equal say in the policies and practices that affect them and their families. FLARE and our other young people involved in regional groups within the programme play a key role in ensuring the voice and experiences of disabled children and young people are fully included in this work.
While young people’s views have been a key influence within SEN and disability legislation and implementation, there is still work to be done at national and local levels to ensure that:
- Disabled children and young people, and children and young people with SEN understand the changes to the law and how it affects them
- Practitioners understand how to involve disabled children and young people, and children and young people with SEN in decisions about their support and care; and
- Disabled children and young people, and children and young people with SEN are able to influence national and local policy and practice development, and their voices are embedded within strategic participation locally.