Hampshire Now - your County Council magazine

Young people get involved with planning services for those with special educational needs and disabilities

Friday, 24 January 2014

Innovative ways to develop and promote services for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities in Hampshire were celebrated at a county youth conference.

Over 70 young people from schools, colleges and youth groups across Hampshire attended the conference, held on Friday 10 January by Hampshire County Council, to make a difference in their communities and the lives of their peers.

The event builds upon work being carried out by Hampshire's Special Educational Needs and Disability Pathfinder. As part of the Pathfinder, Hampshire is developing a Local Offer which will contain information about local services available to children and young people from birth to 25 years old who have SEN or disabilities.

The conference gave the young people opportunity to feedback about the information they would like included in the Local Offer so they can make informed choices about their future; contribute to the development of Hampshire's Local Offer by helping to map what information is currently available or unavailable; and to help plan the best ways of communicating information to young people.

Hampshire County Council, as one of seven local authorities in the South East, is testing and trialling Government reform of the SEN system. Changes come into place nationally from September 2014 to provide better outcomes for children and young people with SEN and disabilities, and to improve the experience of parents and carers in planning support for their children. The reform aims to create family centred approaches, putting parents, carers, children and young people at the heart of the requirements, and looking at how education, health and social care organisations can work better together.

Councillor Peter Edgar, Hampshire County Council's Executive Member for Education, said: "It's really positive that a diverse group of young people from across Hampshire attended the conference to tell us their views on services for children and young people with SEN and disabilities. We regularly hold youth conferences to enable young people to participate in local decision making so that we can listen directly to them and they can help shape our services.

"The Local Offer that we are producing will outline all services and support available to children and young people with SEN or disabilities in Hampshire, including education, health, social care and leisure services. It will help to improve choice and transparency for families and it is vital that we develop it with parents and carers, and children and young people to meet the needs of people locally."

In addition to the group activities, information stands were available for the young people to visit from organisations including Rose Road, Disability Challengers, KIDS, Totton College, Hampshire Sport and IOW, Duke of Edinburgh, and the County Council's Short Breaks team. Aaron Phipps, Team GB para-olympian for wheelchair rugby also gave an inspirational speech about his story and experience of the 2012 Paralympic Games.

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