Governance, SEND and Changing Lives Together
I am passionate about governance and the important and strategic role it can play in supporting children and young people. My work with the Norfolk Area SEND Strategy has showcased the value of this role.
Following several months and hundreds of hours of meetings the refreshed Norfolk Area SEND Strategy was published. Covid’s impact has been felt deeply and far and wide, our meetings now virtual allowed us to include more groups, teams and services, we could ensure that there was co-production and multi-agency working. We broke off into smaller working parties when we needed to and found inventive ways of finding the creativity and establishing the full extent of every area that we needed to understand more fully. SEND is complex and as a governor I am not a specialist, however governance does not need to be specialised.
Governance is about stepping back from the operational and seeing the big picture; it is about challenging questions and ensuring the vision is never lost. Our role is knowing when to step forward and speak up and when to step back and monitor. We make sure that our children, young people and their families are never lost in strategic and operational thinking.
Of course a published strategy and the work to get it to that point would have no impact if there is no governance, if the actions are not carried out, if the impact is not quantified. How would we know that it is working, where it really needs to without true governance?
If you have a look at the Area SEND Strategy, you will see four priorities:
- Working together with children and young people with SEND
- Improving what is in place for families and professionals to support children and young people with SEND
- Communicating the SEND services and support available in Norfolk
- Preparing young people for adult life
For any governor or trustee, they would see an opportunity to have impact in any of these areas, they all link, they all are interdependent. However, for each of these priorities there are several actions, there are key success criteria, there will be data that needs collating and conversations that need to happen.
To achieve everything we have set out, everyone working in SEND, in health, in education in social care, including those in governance needs to step forward and say yes I am, yes I will, yes we can. Changing Lives Together is our ethos and it underpins everything we do, we cannot work in isolation and expect to improve outcomes and lived experiences for all children and young people with SEND. We have to talk, we have to work and we have to reflect, we have to commit to making the difference that can support all children.
The idea of a Governance Conversation event came from our 2020 conference, as with all conferences impacted by Covid, the event was virtual. A technical issue, led to the opportunity to speak with the attendees on a much more informal level, we asked questions, we talked and we shared.
Following the publication on the Area SEND Strategy, I wanted to share this work with governors, I spoke widely with my colleagues at NGN, those that I had spent many hours with in the NASMA (Norfolk Area SEND Multi Agency) team meetings and colleagues across education, SEND and governance support. I decided firstly to design a new page for governors, the page was dedicated to SEND and I asked for all my colleagues to peer review it for accuracy and consistency. Working with my NGN colleagues, Jill Wilson and Justine Petersen we agreed a format and the content.
You will see the voice of children, they are too important to not include.
Once the page was written the event came together quite quickly, Michael Bateman, Assistant Director, SEND Strategic Improvement and Early Effectiveness and Maxine Blocksidge, SEND Strategic Improvement, both agreed to present a comprehensive overview aimed at governors and trustees. The conversation was still important, being talked at is not as powerful as talking with. We therefore included elements at our event, such as polls, chat opportunities and a conversation bringing in questions that governors were raising.
The above graphic was meant to be the final slide of our event, it was never shown as the questions and conversation flowed too well without needing it. However, the graphic depicts the importance of working together, of co-production and of the interdependence of every aspect of governance for the benefit of all children, for our communities and our county.
You can download the PowerPoint presented at the event here.
What governors and trustees can do
NGN’s work in the Area SEND Strategy and all aspects of SEND in Norfolk continues unabated, we challenge and collaborate, we ask those courageous questions and we govern for the good of all children and young people with SEND.
Thank you for all the work that you are doing.