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Parents and carers praised the support they get from Portsmouth keyworkers and schools for their children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in Portsmouth City Council’s annual survey, run in collaboration with Portsmouth Parent Voice and the Dynamite youth group. The survey ran from January to March 2020, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, and showed that a large majority of respondents believe their views are listened to by professionals (80%) and over two-thirds of respondents who feel that their child or young person needs SEND support know how to access it (68%).

Kate Bradley, mother of two boys said:

“I have had lots of support with both my children. Lucas, my youngest son, didn’t cope well in mainstream school. He got his Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan during lockdown and is now in the Inclusion Centre at Portsdown Primary School. He is so happy being there. For the first time ever he got star of the week!

“During lockdown my eldest son, Jake, who has autism, was only at school part time but is very happy now be back full time at Redwood Park School.”

Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Education at Portsmouth City Council, said: “We are very grateful to those who took part in the survey and delighted with the positive feedback from Portsmouth families about the support they are getting for children and young people with SEND. The demand for services for young people with special needs and disabilities continues to grow and we are always listening and looking for more ways to improve, so direct input like this is really welcome.”

Conversations with young people in Portsmouth over the age of 13 with SEND highlighted that they feel they are able to be more independent and are given the opportunity to learn vital skills such as how to cook, how to tell the time and how to travel safely.

A clear majority of the young people engaged with agree that they ‘receive good support for their mental health’. Similarly, young people feel they are given the right amount of opportunity to meet friends and socialise which helps in building a strong support network of like-minded peers. Most of the young people strongly felt that they are being provided with good educational support so that more options will be available to them in the future.

The survey results come at a time when the council have invested in improvements to two schools in Portsmouth to enable them to manage the changing complexity of SEND pupils.  For pupils with complex learning difficulties who may also have autism, at Cliffdale Primary Academy a £2m extension now provides additional teaching accommodation and improved external play areas for primary school pupils and at Redwood Park Academy additional classrooms and music and drama space have been added in a £3m extension for secondary school pupils.

To read the full report and for information, support and local services on offer for children and young people in Portsmouth up to age 25 with SEND, please visit the new Portsmouth SEND Local Offer website at https://portsmouthlocaloffer.org/sendsurvey2020