Our council

To fulfil our commitments we have 10 strategic priorities and enablers. These have been agreed over the last phase of the SEND Strategy, and all together make up the SEND Improvement Programme.

This has been refreshed to incorporate the actions we're taking forward in this strategy over the next three years, from 2022-2025.


Number Priority/enabler Focus
Priority 1 Engagement, participation and coproduction: children and young people (SEND Oversight Board) Parent/carer engagement, participation and coproduction.
Priority 2 Engagement, participation and coproduction: parent/carer: forms part of the written statement of action (WSoA) (SEND Oversight Board) Identifying and meeting needs across all areas of SEND.
Priority 3 Early identification and SEN support: forms part of the written statement of action (WSoA) (Barnsley Schools Alliance) Children and young people’s engagement, participation and coproduction.
Priority 4 Meeting needs through specialist support and provision (SEND Sufficiency Group) Universal and specialist support and provision, including sufficiency of places.
Priority 5 Communication and interaction: autism (Autism Partnership Board)/speech, language and communication needs (SLCN Steering Group) Autism and speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).
Priority 6 Preparation for adulthood (PfA Steering Group) PfA from the earliest years and transitions.
Enabler 1 Quality of data Local area knowledge and intelligence.
Enabler 2 Local offer What’s available and how it's communicated.
Enabler 3 Financial balance Ensuring value and best use of resources.
Enabler 4 Workforce development Building capacity across the system.

By delivering these priorities and the enablers that will drive success, we'll see positive outcomes for all children and young people across the borough. The outcomes embedded in this strategy have been crafted and captured over time by our children and young people. These outcomes underpin all areas within the SEND Improvement Plan.

Outcome area one: independent living

What independent living means to us

As young people grow older, they may want to live alone, or with others, in their own home. In Barnsley, young people have told us that independent living is more than just about where you live. They also feel that being as independent as possible, is just as important as who you live with. To make sure that young people can live as independently as possible, there needs to be lots of support available depending on their needs.

We will:

  • Create more accessible information, advice and support for young people about the things that are important to them, including sex and relationship education.

  • Develop a joined-up transitions team that includes children’s and adult social care and provides a consistent offer relating to assessment, support and services.

  • Review and develop our commissioning agreements between the local authority and the Integrated Care Board (ICB) so that key health services have a better transition plan between children’s and adult services.

  • Work with schools and education settings to promote more lessons on vital life skills, including cooking, travelling, money management, and learning about mortgages to prepare for adulthood.

  • Develop accessible information about the education, health and care (EHC) process and what this means for sixth form, university, and going into work much earlier than it's currently provided.

  • Provide more information, advice and support about what is available to support a young person to be able to live away from home.

  • Enable parents and carers to access information that helps them to support their children and young people to make decisions about their future.

  • Ensure that all children and young people begin preparation for adulthood at the earliest stage. This will prepare them for change throughout their individual journey, so that work is completed to enable them to begin to make decisions at the earliest opportunity about their future.

As a result, children and young people with SEND will:

  • Develop the right skills to be as independent as possible.
  • Benefit from having the right support from the people in their life.
  • Feel that they can make decisions with the support of people around them when it comes to their own life and care needs.
  • Feel confident in expressing themselves, including speaking out and feeling that they're listened to.
  • Benefit from the support and encouragement from their family, carers, friends and professionals to be independent but provide support when it's needed.
  • Benefit from access to the same chances and opportunities as everyone else.
  • Be treated equally and included in their local community.
  • Be comfortable being alone and in their ability to actually be alone.
  • Have the skills to help them live the best life they can.
  • Be supported to be ambitious.
  • Be able to budget and manage their finances, with the right support when this is needed.

Outcome area two: community inclusion

What community inclusion means to us

As young people prepare for adulthood, they may want to get involved in their local community in all sorts of ways. Whether this means joining a local group, taking part in council or service run activities, or building friendships and maintaining relationships all depends on the individual. 

Becoming an adult means all the opportunities that are available to support this are available to everyone, regardless of individual needs. Friendships, relationships and understanding yourself and who you want to be is a big part of becoming an adult. As well as understanding what a good and a bad relationship or friendship is, finding out more about sexual health, body image and emotions is also important to get around and be included in the local and wider community.

We will:

  • Ensure a stronger support network and opportunities for young people who are in the 18 to 25 age phase so that social opportunities don’t just stop.

  • Create a physical space within the town centre where everyone can find out more about support, opportunities and provision that is available to them. This could be a drop-in shop for all SEND related information, advice and support.

  • Work with the voluntary sector to explore what else can be provided in the local community and support this.

  • Use family hubs to support families so that they can enjoy happy, healthy, and longer lives in safer and stronger communities.

  • Support clubs and activities that are available for everyone, really are available for everyone, regardless of their support needs. This might mean training, support and advice for lots of organisations who provide social and community activities.

  • Work in collaboration with partners and stakeholders to provide more information about pathways into sports and afterschool clubs for children and young people who have SEND.

  • Promote volunteering opportunities for young people with SEND, which can provide unique experiences. More activities for this need to be made available which offer a variety of experiences, including within the council.

  • Support wellbeing groups for parents/carers so that they feel empowered and more able to access things in the community for themselves and for their children and young people.

As a result, children and young people with SEND will:

  • Have a full and stimulating life that includes friends and family as well as in the community.
  • Have a productive, supportive family life, where families are content and can take the opportunities that fit with their own lives.
  • Be able to socialise with friends and explore relationships safely.
  • Have healthy, sustained friendship groups and friends who support and understand them.
  • Feel safe when they are out by themselves and with friends, accessing the local community.
  • Have good knowledge of the clubs and social opportunities they can attend and take advantage of these.
  • Be able to have a good time and feel happy.

Outcome area three: health and wellbeing

What health and wellbeing means to us

Physical, social, emotional and mental health is really important to children and young people in Barnsley. They tell us they want access to correct services with clear routes and pathways from the earliest opportunities. Friendships and relationships are a vital part of growing up. Children and young people with SEND want to learn alongside their friends to develop and sustain appropriate friendships. They tell us that without the correct support around them their health and wellbeing needs often become negatively impacted and can lead to further difficulties.  

Effective communication is vital for families to have confidence in accessing services. This includes transitions and situations where more than one agency is involved.

We will:

  • Provide training for partners to support appropriate and timely referrals to other services.

  • Create clear referral processes.

  • Provide correct and clear information about the role and function of each service.

  • Ensure services are appropriate to match need.

  • Improve support for families who are experiencing difficulties regardless of diagnostic outcome.

  • Support families through family hubs so that children and young people are safe and healthy and gain the best start in life. 

  • Communicate education, health and care needs across all services.

  • Support the rollout and use of health passports for children and young people with SEND.

  • Facilitate better working relationships between services especially at key transition phases.

  • Improve information for children and young people around sexual health and positive relationships.

  • Promote opportunities and pathways into sport for children and young people.

  • Improve health professional’s knowledge and understanding of para sports and documentation that accompanies this.

As a result, children and young people with SEND will:

  • Know where to get the correct information and advice to support their health needs at the earliest point of time.
  • Benefit from the people who care for them feeling supported to be as healthy as they can be.
  • Have the information they need to know where to get the right support from for their mental health needs.
  • Have a better understanding of what GPs can offer and take advantage of what’s available.
  • Be able to make informed choices about sexual health and positive relationships.
  • Have the correct information and documents to be able to communicate their needs as independently as possible.
  • Have opportunities to access and engage with sports.

Outcome area four: education and employment

What education and employment means to us

Children and young people tell us that they want to be included in their local education school or setting as much as possible. Being part of their community is part of their education. Children and young people need to feel like they belong and want to learn in education settings that have staff who understand their needs and can help them to make progress, including academic, social and emotional progress. They want to be happy and learn alongside their peers. Young people want a variety of post 16 options that are explained at the earliest opportunity by education providers.

As children grow, becoming an adult, for many, means moving towards employment. Young people require support to understand all the pathways and routes to further education and employment. There needs to be sustained and meaningful opportunities for young people who are about to embark on the next stage in their lives.  

We will:

  • Focus on identification of need and early intervention in schools and education settings including early years providers.

  • Ensure there are sufficient places in schools to meet the needs of children and young people in the right way in their local school or education setting.

  • Work with mainstream schools and education settings to support how they can meet the needs of children and young people at the SEN support and the education, health and care plan (EHCP) level through awareness raising and training at all levels.

  • Work with schools and education settings to ensure the best use of the high needs capital funding to improve facilities and the environment to support children and young people with SEND.

  • Ensure that there are enough specialist placements to meet the needs of the local population within Barnsley and map this out for the period of this strategy and into the future, in consideration of forecast needs.

  • Explore what can be done to offer parent/carer support in schools and education settings in partnership with special educational needs coordinators (SENCos) and services.

  • Ensure that there are sufficient options available for young people when they leave school, including apprenticeships, sixth form, work-based opportunities and further education.

  • Promote and expand the inclusive offer in Barnsley, so that more young people have access to employment pathways that meet their needs, including through: work placements, work experience, apprenticeships, supported internships, traineeships and T-level placements.

As a result, children and young people with SEND will:

  • Be able to make a positive contribution and play an active role in their community.
  • Benefit from the right support so they can continue to learn new skills and knowledge.
  • Be able to use their skills in their own community and the wider world.
  • Have, and make use of, the same opportunities as everyone else because they get the right support and encouragement to do so.
  • Enjoy a sense of achievement through voluntary roles in their community to continue to build skills and gain future employment.

Outcome area five: choice and control

What choice and control means to us

When we talk about children and young people with SEND, we include those who are vulnerable for many different reasons and who are likely to need support from multiple services during their life. Many children and young people who have SEND will have lives that have been made more complex by all the different, agencies, policy and legislation that shape the support they might need. Services may include those from education, health and care, including specialist teachers, child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), children with disabilities and other social care teams, health services and specialist education support, to name but a few.

Other people around the child or young person, including their families, may also have their own support needs and this is when early help services may be required. Throughout all of this, it's vitally important that the voice of the child, young person and their family are kept at the heart of decision making with choice and control being paramount.

We will:

  • Work collaboratively with strategic partners to explore and develop the use of personal budgets across education, health and care for young people who have SEND so that they have more choice and control about the services they receive.

  • Explore the creation of a town centre public information drop-in shop where parents/carers can call in and collect information on what they need in a format that suits them, including accessing advice from professionals, at their own pace.

  • Keep all support and provision under review through an agreed schedule to identify what needs reviewing and carrying out focused work to understand how service are working and what needs to change. This will include partners and stakeholders.

  • Ensure that children, young people and parents/carers can access information in an understandable format so that they can make informed choices. This includes making sure that information is readily available in all formats, including paper based if this is requested.

  • Ensure that children and young people are treated as individuals when professionals are involved, rather than being combined into a general category of need. This also means looking at criteria for access to services and removing diagnosis-based access unless there is a specific and/or justifiable reason for this.

As a result, children and young people with SEND will:

  • Be able to put their views across and feel listened to.
  • Be supported to express their thoughts and feelings about what is right for them, leading to more power over their own lives.
  • Understand how to make their own decisions in the way that works for them.
  • Express themselves, speak out and feel that they are listened to.
  • Benefit from services that are shaped by their own opinions, thoughts and needs.
  • Be given information about their rights and choices without having to ask for it or seek it out themselves because they won’t know what they don’t know.
  • Feel supported, when they want to do new things, to understand what might go wrong, but also to try, even if it might not always work out how it was intended.