It’s been five years since MPCF launched in March 2017 and four years since the launch of the SEND Co-production Charter back in 2018.
Manchester has come quite a way towards building a culture of co-production and partnership working across Education, Health, Social Care, and universal services across the city.
Over the past 5 years, the forum has been actively involved in co-production at the strategic level; we have membership at the SEND Board, Local Offer Review Board (which we co-chair), Transition Board (which we will soon co-chair), Our Manchester Disability Plan Board, Autism Board, and the SEND Reform Board (which we co-chaired prior to the workstream being completed). We also work with local partners at the operational level, with close involvement on projects and services such as the recently launched About Me profiles, the Social Communication Pathway (SCP), the monthly SEND Local Offer drop-ins, educational psychology workshops, SEND Community Offer (e.g. school holiday activities), the reform of the Children with Disabilities social care teams, the Early Years Ordinarily Available Provision, an EHCP moderation panel for parents, and more. Opportunities for other groups and for individual parents/carers to get involved in consultations, listening sessions and focus groups have also been made available more and more over the past couple of years.
In the past year, parent representatives have attended over 100 combined meetings and co-production sessions with local partners. The forum has either attended or opened to our members a number of consultation and co-production meetings/workshops, including for Short Breaks, social worker training, the development of Lyndene House (an edge-of-care service for SEND), a new Early Years autism assessment pathway, the Local Area SEND Inspection, the review of home-to-school transport, Covid vaccinations, social housing, and making Manchester Day more inclusive to SEND families.
This co-productive culture was recognised as a key strength by Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors when they visited Manchester in November 2021. Here’s an excerpt from the Local Area SEND Inspection report that Ofsted published in January:
Area leaders have a strong working relationship with the PCF. Leaders and the PCF work in partnership on the key strategic and operational SEND boards. The PCF both challenges and supports area leaders in equal measure, acting as a critical friend, for example in evidencing the anxiety of some parents around young people’s preparation for adulthood. This ensures that leaders’ plans incorporate the views, wishes and feelings of parents and carers across the city.
Building that culture of co-production and partnership working between agencies is important, as SEND services can only truly be at their best when developed and regularly reviewed together with the people who use them – parents, carers, children and young people.
However, the work is far from complete! We highlight great work this Co-production Week with the hope that it will encourage more services and local partners to embrace co-production and make partnership working business-as-usual. Of course, parent/carer involvement is vital to making this happen, so we encourage you all to get involved by joining events & meetings, answering the occasional surveys, and otherwise giving us feedback about local services by reaching out to us via email or social media.
Together, we can achieve better decisions and brighter futures for Manchester families. You can help make this happen.