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Halton SEND Improvement Plan (Priority Action Plan)

Between the 6 November 2023 and 24 November 2023, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) undertook a joint inspection of the Halton local area.

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspected the Halton local area to assess how effective the local education, health and care services are at identifying, and meeting the needs of, children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) aged 0 to 25.

The purpose of inspection was to:

  • provide an independent, external evaluation of the effectiveness of the local area partnership’s arrangements for children and young people with SEND
  • where appropriate, recommend what the local area partnership should do to improve the arrangements.

The findings have been published on Ofsted’s website in the Area SEND Inspection of Halton Local Area Partnership report

To respond to this, the local area partnership, including the council, the integrated care partnership, parents/carers, and wider partners, came together to coproduce a Priority Action Plan, which details the actions that the local area will take to address the five priority actions identified by the inspection.

Areas for priority action Responsible Body
Priority 1 – Strategic Oversight and Governance  
Leaders at Halton local authority and the NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB should cooperate at pace to improve the shared strategic oversight, governance, support and challenge to drive improvements to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND in Halton. Halton Borough Council and NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care Board (ICB)
Priority 2 – Cohesive communication / joined up systems  
Leaders in the local authority, ICB and education, health and social care providers should improve the efficiency and quality of their information gathering and sharing processes to ensure that children’s and young people’s needs are understood accurately and met more swiftly and effectively through coordinated approaches. Halton Borough Council and NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care Board (ICB)
Priority 3 – Joint Commissioning  
Leaders across education, health and social care should improve the joint commissioning of services to ensure that children, young people and their families receive sufficient support to have their needs met effectively. Halton Borough Council and NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care Board (ICB)
Priority 4 – Early identification of need and access  
Leaders across education, health and social care should urgently improve the early identification of needs and access to specialist health pathways, including the neurodevelopmental assessment pathway and speech and language therapy and the support available, while children and young people wait. Halton Borough Council and NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care Board (ICB)
Priority 5 – Education Health and Care Plans  
Leaders across education, health and social care should improve the timeliness of new EHC plans and updates to EHC plans following the annual review process, so that, if appropriate, children and young people receive an effective EHC plan within statutory timescales. Halton Borough Council and NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care Board (ICB)

DfE, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) have now approved the local area’s SEND improvement plan (Priority Action Plan).

Halton SEND Strategic Improvement Board spans a broad range of partners, services and stakeholders and has been set up to oversee SEND improvement activity in Halton and the supporting Priority Action Plan and will take forward the learning from the Ofsted and CQC inspection process and the areas for improvement identified through the inspection. To deliver positive change, it is essential that areas for improvement, improvement activity and accountability is shared across this complex partnership.

The Board will hold meetings bi-monthly and updates from those meetings will be published on this page.

Halton SEND Strategy 2021-2025 Revised February 2024

As the Halton Local Area SEND Partnership we strive to work collaboratively and in a co-productive way to make a real difference to the lives of children and young people that live in Halton.  The Halton SEND Strategy 2021 – 2025 has focussed the areas of priority for the partnership.  However, between 20-24 November 2023, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) undertook a joint area send inspection of the Halton partnership. The Local Area Partnership Report outcome published on 18 January 2024 identified widespread and/or systemic failings leading to significant concerns about the experiences and outcomes of children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), which the local area partnership must address urgently.

Therefore, as a partnership we need to focus in the short to medium term on working to address the priority actions and development areas identified in the inspection report, all of which are aligned to our Halton SEND Strategy 2021 – 2025 Priority Areas.  This interim refreshed SEND Strategy will provide strategic direction across SEND Services with the intention to coproduce a new Halton SEND Strategy with partners, children and young people, their family and carers which we aim to publish in Autumn 2024.   

Hate Crime, Childline & Prejudiced Incidents

Hate Crime


  • Childline is a private and confidential service for children and young people up to the age of 19

Prejudiced Incidents

Got Your Back Halton

  • Self-Referral can be made by you or your friends aged 18 or under if you have been a victim of crime
  • Referral by a Professionals/Agency – parental or guardian permission is required to pass the young person’s details on to the service
  • Got Your Back Halton Tel: 0800 6406466, Text GYBMentor to 82228, Email halton@gyb.org.uk 
Everyone - Early Help Strategy

Everyone – Early Help Strategy 2018-20121 This strategy aims to build upon the good practice and existing strategies from early help and prevention which already exists in Halton.  The overall aim is to support people to maximise their potential, and as a consequence, enjoy a better quality of life.  Early help approaches are often ‘enabling’: equipping individuals and communities with the tools to succeed, rather than interventions being imposed upon them.

Halton Children’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA)

The Halton Children’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) identifies ‘the big picture’ in terms of the health and wellbeing needs and inequalities of the local population. It is based on the analysis of current and predicted health and well-being outcomes and sets out what people want from their services. The JSNA is underpinned by partnership working, community engagement and evidence of effectiveness.

Halton Joint Commissioning Strategy 2018-2021
The Halton Joint Commissioning Strategy 2018-2021 explains what we mean by commissioning and how each of the commissioning organisations within Halton has clear areas of responsibility, we believe that in most cases it takes more than one agency to provide the services needed by local communities and individuals. We are committed to developing integrated commissioning arrangements that ensure all of the necessary agencies work closely together to complement and support integrated frontline delivery to meet the needs of local people.
Halton SEND Joint Commissioning Strategy Addendum 2023

The SEND Joint Commissioning Strategy Addendum 2023 provides an update to the existing strategy in advance of work required to produce a new Children and Families Commissioning Strategy, which will include commissioning children and young people with SEND

All-Age Autism Strategy
The All-Age Autism Strategy in Halton aims to take a more joined-up and holistic approach to developing opportunities and realising potential for people with Autism at every stage in their lives
Children’s Education Advisory Service (Ministry of Defence families)
Advice and guidance to MOD families, educational establishments and local authorities on educational issues relating to Service children, including issues relating to SEND
Accessibility Strategy 2023-25

Information for Children, Young People, Parents and Carers

Consultation News

Special Educational Needs Resource Provision

On the 15th June 2023, following a statutory consultation, approval was given from the Council’s Chief Executive on behalf of the Executive Board (supported by the Leader of the Council, Portfolio Holder for Children and Families, and senior Finance and Legal officers within the Council) to progress with the capital works to support the provision of new places or to expand existing provision for pupils and students with high needs as follows:

  • Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 Social, Emotional and Mental Health Resource Bases are developed at Astmoor Primary School
  • Early Years Foundation Stage Assessment provision and Early Years Foundation Stage/Key Stage 1 Resource Base provision is developed at St Basil’s Catholic Primary School
  • Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 Autistic Spectrum Condition Units are developed at Saints Peter & Paul Catholic High School
  • Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 Social, Emotional and Mental Health Resource Bases are developed at Victoria Road Primary School
  • Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 Speech, Language and Communication Needs Resource Bases are developed at Westfield Primary School

The responses to the consultation for each school were overwhelmingly in support of the proposals.

The decision has been made to proceed with the expansion of provision to ensure that wherever possible children and young people can be educated in local specialist educational provision within Halton which in turn helps to reduce expensive out-borough placement and transport costs, and meet specialist need more locally within Halton. The programme of works and expansion of provision will also support the SEND strategic plan to increase sufficiency of inclusive, educational provision in borough. Expanding the in borough offer will also support children and young people with SEND to achieve their aspirations and achieve strong outcomes, fulfilling their potential.

High Needs Provision Capital funding will be used to provide the facilities required for the new provision and the revenue costs of the new provision will be met from the High Needs budget. Development will now begin so that the new bases will begin to open within the 2023/24 Academic Year.

SEMH Free School

The new SEMH Free School, on behalf of Halton and St Helens Local Authorities is a project, led by the Department for Education (DfE) for the proposed new school on Naylor Road in Widnes. However, due to a number of setbacks, not least the COVID-19 Pandemic, the DfE has pushed back work on the project.

Contact: Jill Farrell, Operational Director – Education, Inclusion and Provision  jill.farrell@halton.gov.uk

Halton Family Hubs

We’re working with partners in Halton to develop Family Hubs across the borough by March 2025.
This work is being funded by the Department for Education from the government’s Family Hubs Transformation Fund.

Click here find out more

Family Hubs 0-5 years Guide one page

School uniform grant/costs

Unfortunately, Halton Borough Council does not provide financial support or a grant for these costs.

Support may be available from one of the following:

  1. Check with your local Halton Children Centres, as they may have items available Runcorn Children Centres and Widnes Children Centres
  2. Check with your local housing provider/association, as they may have support available, also see the news page on the website, for example, Halton Housing
  3. Most supermarkets have non-branded school clothing available for purchase at a very low-cost
  4. Your child’s school may be able to provide support with the school uniform – you should contact them in the first instance
  5. Check the school website to access their School Uniform Policy for information on how they can help
  6. You could contact the school by phone or email to seek their help
  7. During school holidays, staff may still be available in school for you to contact them for advice by email
  8. If you don’t manage to get in touch with the school before the start of the new term, the Council’s Education Welfare Service advise that you don’t keep your child off school if you don’t have the correct school uniform.  Keeping your child off school without their permission would be classed as an unauthorised school absence
  9. You should dress your child for school in appropriate clothing i.e. plain trousers/skirt, plain polo t-shirt and/or a plain jumper
  10. As soon as possible on the first day of term, contact the school to seek their advice and ask for support (if you have been unable to contact school before this date)
0-5 Years Developmental Guide - Parental Booklet
Newborn to 5 years  – where you can get support and the different developmental stages
Searching for a School?
Looking for a local school – Search for a school
School Admission Information
Information for school admissions in Halton is available from www.halton.gov.uk/schooladmissions Please don’t hesitate to contact the Child Place Planning Team on 0151 511 7338/7271, or by emailing schooladmissions@halton.gov.uk, if you have any queries.
Free School Meals
Free school information is available from Halton Borough Council’s website
Transitions, Leaving School, Looking Ahead?
Elective Home Education (EHE) Guidance Booklet for Parents and Carers

Elective Home Education is often referred to as EHE, see latest guidance below

EHE Guidance Booklet for Parents 2024

School Travel Support, Independent Travel Training and School Bus Timetable

School Travel Support and Bus Service information

More information including Home to School Assisted Transport and policies can be found on the Council website School Travel Support

  • Parents and carers have a legal responsibility to ensure their compulsory school aged children are registered at a school and attend regularly
  • Under section 508B of the Education Act 1996, the Council has a duty to ensure that in certain circumstances suitable travel solution is made for an eligible child/young person. This will be carried out, where necessary, to facilitate the child and young person’s attendance at a relevant qualifying school. A qualifying school is a school with places available that provides education appropriate to the age, ability and aptitude of the child, and any SEND that the child may have. The general duty is to provide assistance with transport for all children of compulsory school age if their nearest qualifying school is beyond 2 miles if the child is below the age of 8, or beyond 3 miles if the child is aged between 8 and 16. The Act applies to all children and young people who permanently live in Halton and attend a qualifying school named in their EHC Plan.
  • These arrangements apply for home to school travel (usual place of school) and does not apply to travel between educational establishments during the school day.

Independent Travel Training

More information can be found on the Council website Independent Travel Training

  • The Council provides this training to enable young people with SEND to travel independently to and from school, college and other social activities
  • The training works with young people, parents, carers, schools and other appropriate individuals to provides trainees with their own personal travel programme

Bus Services

School bus timetable information is available or alternatively email the Neighbourhood Travel Team to request a timetable or for help to plan a journey.

Educated Other Than At School/college (EOTAS) Policy for children and young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan

This policy provides details of Education Other Than At School/College with an EHCP, it gives information about what an EOTAS package might look like, including the process involved.

Information for schools/settings

Emotionally Based School Non Attendance (EBSNA)

Emotionally Based School Non Attendance (EBSNA) is a term used to describe children and young people (CYP) who experience challenges in attending school due to negative feelings (such as anxiety). EBSNA is commonly associated with emotional and physical distress, and a reluctance to attend school, which can lead to reduced attendance and further anxiety regarding school.


Halton Education Inclusion Charter

Below is a detailed Charter for schools and a one-page summary which might be more helpful for parent/carers:

Halton Inclusion Conference 8th October 2019 Delegate Pack

The pack includes the Agenda, Halton Education Inclusion Charter, Guest Speaker presentations, Event Photos

Delegate Pack

Tuition Policy for supporting pupils at school with medical conditions

From 1 September 2014, the Children and Families Act 2014 introduced the statutory duty that ALL schools (including Academies) are responsible for supporting children and young people with medical conditions

Policy Statement about Out of Borough Provision

The Code of Practice advises of the duty on local authorities to include in their Local Offer any provision outside the local area, that the local authority expects to be used by children and young people with special educational needs and disability, for which they are responsible.  This includes provision in a further education college in a neighbouring area or other support services that are provided jointly by local authorities. It should include relevant regional and national specialist provision, such as provision for children and young people with more complex needs.

We must include the lists of non-maintained special schools and independent schools catering wholly or mainly for children with SEND, and Independent Specialist Colleges in England (National Association of Independent Schools & Non-Maintained Special Schools List (NASS List).  This also includes the Section 41 List (institutions approved by the Secretary of State).  Parents and young people have a statutory right to request that they are named on an EHC Plan.

The Local Authority must consider any request but is not under the same conditional duty to name that provider on the EHC Plan.  However they must have regard to the fact that children should be educated in accordance with parents’ wishes. This must be compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training and where it does not incur unreasonable expenditure.

Halton’s Approach

We always aim to educate a child or young person within their local community. If it is agreed that other provision should be considered, then we would consider those providers close by that can meet the needs of the individual.  Within the local area, we have used and would expect to continue using the following schools, where appropriate:

Other relevant providers for Halton include those within reasonable travelling distance, where young people have been placed before, for example:

Halton would approach other providers further away, only where the needs could not be met locally or within neighbouring authorities, for example Wings, Cumbria.  If other providers are to be named on an EHC Plan, there would need to be considerable discussion beforehand, as they are not subject to the duty to admit a child or young person, even if named in a Plan.

Based on the information above, we have complied with our duty to promote other provision, where we both “expect” to use it and where it is considered to be “relevant.”

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