To celebrate Co-Production Week, we asked various partners from Manchester’s Education, Health and Care services to reflect and share with us how co-production has helped them deliver provision to families of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND).

Here is a message from Nuala Finegan, Manchester’s Senior Quality Assurance Officer of SEND, who shares her experience of co-producing with parents in various workstreams over the past year.

Co-production is a way of working where everyone working on a project has equal value – parents, professionals, all stakeholders are valued for the knowledge and experience they have.

Some good examples of co-production that I have been involved in are:

  • Parent Moderation of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)In October 2019, a group of parents held the first moderation session. This is a key activity in improving overall quality of plans and the feedback was shared at the SEND Board for all agencies to learn from. It gave parents the chance to find out how a plan is written and what the statutory requirements are, as well as to ask questions and highlight issues from their own experience that then formed the feedback and recommendations for improvement.
  • Early Years Ordinarily Available ProvisionThis was a collaborative piece of work including workers from a range of Early Years services, parents, Health and Education. Together, we shared our expectations of what an Early Years setting needs to provide for a young child with additional needs. In short, we were describing what good practice looks like. This will be a key document for parents who will be informed about how a setting can support their child without the need for an EHC Plan or additional funding, and setting staff will have clear guidance about how to support a child with additional needs. It was a learning experience for all involved and over the next year the aim is to continue to develop and extend the document so feedback from parents will be invaluable.
  • Anxiety PathwayAnother piece of co-production is the Manchester Anxiety-Based School Avoidance guidance document. The document describes the factors that play a part in what used to be called ‘school refusal’, as well as sharing best practice in identifying and supporting those at risk of not attending school as a result of anxiety. There has never been a resource like this for schools in Manchester before. It is important that parents continue to be involved, sharing their experience of what does and doesn’t work and helping to shape better support for young people who experience anxiety around attending school.

If you would like to be involved in either the EY Ordinarily Available Provision or the Anxiety-Based School Avoidance pieces of work, please email me at

These pieces of work would not have been possible without the the collaboration of the Manchester Parent Carer Forum and the Parent Champions.