Strategic Planning

Strategic review of support, services and provision for children and young people with SEND in the East Riding

“Mutual respect and clarity of purpose were embodied in the approach undertaken by Isos with all our stakeholders, and this resulted in our confidence in, and ownership of, the findings of the review.”
— Jackie Lown, Head of Children and Young People's Specialist Services


The brief

To support its long-term strategic plan for developing high-quality, responsive, local support, and supported by the high needs strategic planning grant from the Department for Education, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council commissioned Isos Partnership to carry out a strategic review of support, services and provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND) in the East Riding.

The aims of the review were threefold:

  • to gather and analyse evidence on the current needs, trends and likely future demand;

  • to gather evidence and feedback about aspects of current support, services and provision that are working well, as well as any areas where the current offer needs to be further developed; and

  • to work collaboratively to shape options and build consensus around how the continuum of SEND support, services and provision could be arranged to meet current and future needs and achieve the best outcomes.

What did we do?

We formed a small team with:

  • deep knowledge and experience of national policy developments and local practice in the field of SEND;

  • a successful track-record of leading effective strategic engagements with senior leaders across education, health and care services, as well as young people, parents and carers; and

  • vast expertise in carrying out fast-paced, solutions-focused, strategic reviews across education and children’s services, and specifically of local strategies and services for SEND.

As well as undertaking a detailed analysis of the available data on local SEND needs and provision, a key aspect of this review was working with a wide range of partners and stakeholders with an interest in SEND across the East Riding. We wanted to ensure that those colleagues felt the review was being undertaken in an open, transparent and engaging way, and in a spirit of partnership and collaboration. We designed our approach so as to maximise the opportunities for colleagues not only to contribute their views, but also to shape the emerging findings and recommendations of the review. We successfully engaged:

  • children and young people with SEND attending local primary, secondary and special schools and college;

  • a broad range of parents and carers of children or young people with SEND;

  • frontline professionals and leaders across early years settings, schools, colleges, and targeted education, health and care services; and

  • senior strategic leaders and officers from across the local authority’s education, children’s and adult services, and from the local clinical commissioning group and health services.

Given the complexity of some of the issues facing local SEND systems, and given the need to address these through collaborative approaches that have buy-in from a range of partners, we designed the review to provide opportunities where the key findings and recommendations could be developed formatively and iteratively. Through these engagements, we worked with a wide range of colleagues and partners across the local system to build up a clear, evidence-informed picture of the strengths of the local system, the immediate priorities, and the actions needed to address those. We presented these key findings and recommendations in a comprehensive, action-focused report, which we presented to senior local authority leaders, gaining their agreement. We then presented these findings and recommendations to the partners and stakeholders who had contributed to the review, using this as the basis to enable them to agree how the review’s recommendations could be taken forward in partnership.

What difference did we make?

A strong theme running throughout the review concerned the opportunities, as well as the need, for greater collaboration and co-production between strategic leaders, commissioners, professionals and parents and young people. The review provided colleagues across the East Riding, in a range of different roles, with the opportunity to come together, identify what was working well, explore current and anticipated challenges, and agree a clear set of strategic priorities for how best to support children and young people with SEND. As such, the review fostered the development not only of a shared strategic direction of travel, but also the practice of collaboration and co-production that colleagues agreed would be a crucial factor in taking forward the actions that came out of the review.

What did the client say about the work?

“Mutual respect and clarity of purpose were embodied in the approach undertaken by Isos with all our stakeholders, and this resulted in our confidence in, and ownership of, the findings of the review. As had been our ambition, at the closure of their involvement, we felt in a strong position to construct a detailed action plan to move us forward with purpose and clarity, thanks to the skill and expertise that Isos brought to the process.” 
— Jackie Lown, Head of Children and Young People’s Specialist Services