Children and young people workstreams gaining momentum

Two system-wide workstreams are making positive progress against local commitments to improve the care and support for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

Speech, language and communication workstream

The Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) workstream has recently been nominated for a NHS England SEND Award due to it's strong multi-agency work to make improvements despite challenges. The tenacity and perseverance of the workstream leads were noted in the joint OFSTED & Care Quality Commission Telford SEND Inspection last year. The strengths of the workstream has also recently been acknowledged through Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin being awarded funding for Early Language Support for Every Child (ELSEC), one of only nine areas across the country to be awarded the funding.

The SLCN workstream meets on a monthly basis and has representation from parent carer forum (PACC & PODS), health, social care and education including schools and early years settings.

Since 2021, the workstream has rolled out a number of initiatives across the system to ensure that practitioners working with children, and their parents, can support speech, language and communication skills. This has included Talk Boost, an intervention to support speech, language and communication skills, in early years settings and primary schools. Many children across the area have already benefited from this support. To find out more about Talk Boost, parents should be encouraged to speak to their child's school or early years settings and access the Talk Boost Parent Hub for activities and strategies to use at home.

In Shropshire, the School Readiness resource has been developed as a helpful guide focused on early years development and work is ongoing to further join up the SLCN offer with the development of Family Hubs and Best Start For Life.

The Children's Speech and Language Therapy Service (SLT) has redeveloped their website, continuously updating the content, with the support of parents. Two free training videos on the topics of early vocabulary and concepts and selective mutism are now live on the website, with two further videos coming soon. These will include early attention and listening skills and school aged vocabulary and concepts. The children's SLT service also have a useful Facebook page with regular updates with links to national campaigns along with an advice line which can be accessed without a referral. The advice line, which has received over 350 calls, is available for parents to speak to a therapist for advice about their child's speech, language or communication (01743 450800 (option 4)).

The workstream is currently working on developing an area on the NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Healthier Together website for parents and professionals so that information about all the support available for speech, language and communication needs can be found in one place.

Neurodiversity workstream

The Neurodiversity workstream (ND) is in the process of setting its priorities for the coming year to build on the clear actions agreed as part of the Shropshire Accelerated Progress Plan. However, over the past year the workstream has made some significant progress.

Earlier this year, the Neurodiversity (ND) Practitioner Project got off to a good start with three ND practitioners starting in Shropshire - Rachel Tomkinson, Helen Vincent and Hollie Jones. They will be working within the Shropshire Educational Psychology Service, in posts funded by the Local Authority and NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin. The ND Practitioner Project is currently a one-year pilot, and the impact of the roles in schools over this period will be evaluated so that the learning can feed into future developments.

A new Assistant Psychologist was recruited to BeeU in October 2023. The focus of this role who will be to primarily work to support children and families who are on the waiting list for ND assessments. The assistant psychologist has already made contact with many families who have being waiting the longest for diagnostic assessments.

Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust have recently launched a new advice phone line to provide support to families who have children waiting to be seen at the Child Development Centre or for those who have very recently been seen for assessment. If a child is on the waiting list, parent carers can call the service and speak to a specialist practitioner about their child's needs. The specialist practitioner will give advice and signpost to services and resources which may help the child and family. Those eligible to access the advice line, should have received a letter from the Child Development Centre. Parents should contact the Centre if they think they should be eligible but haven't received a letter.

Finally, the workstream is pleased to report that Autism West Midlands is working towards having a workplace location in Shrewsbury.


Page last updated 30 January 2024