How is Bolton Doing?

Our “How is Bolton Doing?” sessions bring together parents and carers and Bolton professionals in informal sessions. Parents and carers are able to share their views and experiences directly with the SEND professionals who can make a difference locally. Sometimes these kind of sessions are called focus groups, or listening groups; the key point of them is that professionals attend to do the listening and parents and carers do the talking. Find out more about the sessions and also when our next ones are…

Who attends?

At the session we invite professionals to come and be part of the conversation, we have a very good response to this in Bolton, we have had representatives from the council, education, health and social care. Additionally we also include what is discussed at the sessions in our regular feedback to the LA SEND Steering Group.

What happens at the session?

We split into smaller groups of 4-5 parents, this makes it easier for everyone to have a chance to speak. Each group has a host to facilitate the conversation and at least one professional to listen. There is a chance to write your comments on our boards too.

Does it really make a difference?

Yes! Nothing is going to change overnight, but the impact of hearing real-life experiences is very powerful. There is a duty on service providers to listen to parents and carers, and this is one way of doing it. See below for how recent events have influenced Bolton’s SEND offer.

What are the topics?

We theme the sessions so that we can can really on focus on specific issues. Coming up in 2022 we will have sessions on Bolton’s key priorities for SEND. We can then make sure the professionals that attend are the key people locally for the theme.

What should I talk about?

It’s important to hear about struggles you have had navigating services and systems, it’s also important to hear about the people and services that you find fabulous! We like to hear about your suggestions too, to make things better – sometimes simple changes would make a huge difference, it just takes someone to suggest it!

Is it formal?

No – we make the sessions as informal as possible, for better conversation. There’s a break for refreshments, brunch at the morning session and wine and nibbles at the evening one. This may vary due to covid times, however there will always be refreshments.

Improving Inclusion in Education

Tuesday 5th July – 10:00am – 12:30pm

Always a hot topic! For these sessions we will be joined by a host of local SEND leaders who want to meet parents and talk about Inclusion in education. What does it feel like to have a child with SEND in a mainstream school? What are the frustrations you face – what ideas do you have to make things better? If you have a little one in Early Years, and Primary School feels like a huge step – what is it that is worrying? For those moving to Secondary school. what is it that keeps you awake at night worrying about the transition. We are really interested in hearing from parents who feel that their child would be better suited in a specialist setting. We want parents to join us from all age groups, with all needs – including parents who have children with behavior that is challenging in school. Do you have a child who has SEN and receives exclusions, how could mainstream better provide for them?

We will be joined by Bernie Brown Director of Children’s Services, Geraldine Whitehead Assistant Director of Inclusion and Education, Jenny Wilkinson Designated Clinical Officer for SEND and Sheron Kantor from Bolton Startwell. So your thoughts, experiences and ideas will be heard directly by local leaders who can make change 

Click here to book your place on a Improving Inclusion in Education

Preparing for Adulthood and Community Inclusion

Tuesday 7th June – 6:15pm – 8:30pm

Friday 17th June – 10:00am – 12:30pm

This is a topic that has been brought up regularly in past sessions – as our SEND children approach adulthood what is there for them in the local community? Do they have the same opportunities to meet peers, access social opportunities, join in activies out of education? What is missing?

As part of the Preparing for Adulthood Forum, we have a task group that is focusing on Community Inclusion and we want to hear from parents and carers about what’s good in Bolton, what’s not so good and whar’s missing. So if you have a child who is in Year 7 or above, any type of SEND, from mainstream or specialist settings – we’d like to hear from you. We’ll be joined by professionals from the PFA Forum, including Tim Bryant from Commissioning.

As always with these sessions, they are informal, there’s good refreshments and you get to speak directly to local leaders who can make change. 

Some examples of how parent carer views have influenced local developments…

You shared what it’s like when your child has SEN, but doesn’t have an EHC Plan.

We worked with the council as part of a wider task group to create a Bolton approach to SEN Support. this was launched in January 2021 with the Bolton SEND Handbook updated with a wealth of resources.

You shared that Post-16 is an area where you feel there are few opportunities in Bolton.

A dedicated forum has now been set up with the aim to improving this for Bolton young people and families. This forum is chaired by Bernie Brown, Director of Children’s Services and is working at pace to improve opportunities.

You explained that it is hard to find information locally and the local offer website is very poor.

Bolton Parent Carers are now working jointly with the council to develop a new local offer website. Phase One was launched in January 2022. Further developments of the Local Offer will be