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You said, we did - 2015

Feedback about the look, feel and functionality of the Local Offer website

You Said: Pupils wanted more pictures to make the site easier to use and more engaging. So to extend the use of pictures further then the home page and to have pictures of colleges by colleges, activities by activities and so on throughout the website itself.  

  We did: We have begun to add more pictures on pages and will continue to do so where we can. We are looking at ways to add images and videos  to organisations in the directory in future so that they appear next to entries for colleges,activities. and other entries where useful.

You said: That you’d like more video options as well as pictures.

  We did: We have now added video content prepared by the SEND Champions and others where approriate. More video content is planned.

You said: That you’d like the text to be bigger or the option to enlarge the text more obvious.

  We did: It is already possible the enlarge the text but we will try and make the feature more obvious and explain the accessibility features more clearly.

You said: That you found it(the website) was too word heavy and that the language was sometimes hard to understand. 

  We did: It is sometimes difficult to make detailed information simpler and for it to suit all users. We try to avoid using jargon and you can report it when we do.  We will work with the SEND Champions to provide accessble information for children and young people.
You said: That pictures are better than symbols.   We did: We will try to use pictures where we can and have already started to add more.
You said: That you would like more colour and more colour options.    We did: It is possible to change the colour and look of the website using the accessibility buttons.  However we have to bear in mind that some users prefer less colour and images.
You said: You wanted the search boxes to be bigger and more information about navigation.   We did: We will review the way you can search after the Local Offer has been used more so we can see how people use it. We will add more helpful information about how to find things.
You said: Are there any plans for an audible version of the Local Offer to be made available?   We did: Our website developer has plans to review all the accessibility options including how to provide a "read aloud" or audible version. 
You said: There currently seem to be some compatibility issues in accessing the Local Offer site via mobile devices (smartphones) and Apple’s safari browser.  

We did: AfC has worked to ensure that a mobile friendly version of our Local Offer website is automatically available to users accessing the site via a mobile telephone/smartphone.

All documents and links on the Local Offer website should now be accessible via Windows Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, Google Chrome, and other mainstream internet browsers.

You said: The path to getting there (the information) is confusing as to ownership 
- still says My School etc on the landing page icons (this site is not for children but predominantly parents/adults who are making decisions for their children).
  We did: In consultation with  our SEND Young Champions we have developed a Young People's Zone which will be a dedicated area for children and young people. The SEND Champions will also produce accessible guides to to help understanding of the website. The Local Offer Development Group have therefore agreed to change the headings for those categories.
You said: Still no explanations of how the search works, confusing as to where the Local Offer is as the terms "Services" and "Resources" are used as headers.    We did: Plans are also being considered to improve the search routes but this is a more complicated area and involving specific reconfiguring by the web designer. It potentially affects other areas such as the personalisation portal and there are others considerations which prevents us from doing this without careful consideration and assessment of use over a longer time.
You said: It would have been useful to allow one account (on the personalisation portal) to be based on two ‘user types’ for example: I am a teacher of SEND children but also have children with SEND myself - currently you have to open two accounts.    We did: We recognise that this would be useful this and have added to our development schedule.
Feedback about content and services in the Local Offer
You said: You wanted more information about jobs.   We did: We are working to make the information about working and getting a job better.
You said: I think it would be useful to have details or links to neighbouring boroughs and their Local Offer websites.   We did: Our Local Offer homepage now contains clearly signposted links to neighbouring local authority Local Offer websites.
You said: I am concerned that there is no mention made of Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) or Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI) within your Local Offer site in relation to children with autism.  

We did: Julia Hardy, AfC's Principle Educational Psychologist, provided the following response: "AfC delivers a range of early intervention both within Kingston and Richmond settings, including the NAS accredited training EarlyBird and EarlyBird Plus, which benefits parents of children in the early years and school staff working with children with an ASD diagnosis. We have also in the last 6 months prioritised training AfC staff through running an 8 day course on Autism.

 Our Educational Psychologists are providing input to schools and families, all of whom have an understanding of the principles of Applied Behavioural Analysis. They are trained in understanding psychological research and are aware of the absence of controlled studies comparing ABA with other home-based interventions involving the same intensity of input. 

 In AfC we do have one resourced setting Pear Tree that applies some principles of Applied Behavioural Analysis. In addition we also have a range of specialist settings that have expertise and on-going training in Autism and specific approaches, such as TEACCH. Achieving for Children is committed to raising understanding and skills for those working with children and young people with ASD.
Each child's needs are considered on a case by case basis and AfC is absolutely committed to improving the outcomes of all children via the highest quality interventions possible. " 

We have now improved the tagging detail regarding OOB (out of borough) placements in schools that offer ABA therapies so that these educational establishments appear in searches for ABA on the Local Offer. 

You said: Please can you provide details explaining why only two sessions per week are supported by AfC’s Aiming High funding. One downside to the funding is that AfC will support only 2 sessions per week. Why not allow parents/children to decide how they want to spend their budget. A week-long training course of any sport also makes for an accounting nightmare for both provider and parent.   We did: Caroline Jager, Short Breaks and Aiming High Manager provided the following response: "Aiming High funding will pay for 2 sessions of activities per week.  However, families can choose to take them as blocks during the school holiday period if preferred. Children, young people and their families can choose what activities they would like to do. Payment is sent directly to providers from AfC and is a quick and efficient way of paying for the short break activities."
You said: The opportunity for a child or young person with SEND to be entered into a lottery for them and their family to receive an annual family Merlin Pass to gain access to various attractions goes against all the principles of providing services to those most in need in terms of both the severity of SEND and financial situation.  

We did:  Caroline Baxter, Head of Integrated Services for Children with Disabilities, provided the following response: "We would like to reassure you that the offer of Merlin passes via a lottery draw has historically had the full backing of parents/carers via consultation and has run successfully in Kingston in past years. There were requests for this process to be repeated and expanded into Richmond if funding was available.  

The Aiming High and Short Breaks programme funding was allocated earlier this year via a commissioning process and ratified by the Aiming High Strategic Board which includes representation from parents/carers and young people from both Kingston and Richmond. 

There was a small amount of funding left over and discussions were held as to how this could be most usefully spent for the benefit of children and young people with disabilities. There was unanimous agreement from the Aiming High Strategic Board that the lottery process for 24 Merlin passes (12 in each borough) was the best and fairest way.  This would offer 24 families of children and young people with disabilities the opportunity to access the Merlin parks and attractions free of charge for a year.  Please be reassured that any family who makes an application has to meet the criteria as laid down. 

We have received significant numbers of applications and very positive feedback from parents/carers re: this decision. 

We appreciate that some people have different perspectives re: processes of this nature and will take your concerns to the next Aiming High Strategic Board for further discussion. If you would like to write to the group to express your concerns further, please do so." 

You said: Having read adverts in summer activities booklets for the SEND Local Offer, I have been unable to find any related details within the Local Offer website.   We did: The Local Offer website homepage now contains a direct link to ‘Leisure Activities and Short Breaks’. This section provides details of funding available for short breaks, leisure activities and suggestions for things to do, details of our Inclusion Development Officers, as well as details of the Moor Lane accessible playground, activity rooms and soft play. We are also currently working to develop a directory of leisure activities available for children and young people with SEND across both Kingston and Richmond. We have identified that information on activities and leisure generally is an area that needs some work and we will be prioritising this.
You said: The text about "What is a local offer?" is still mealy mouthed and refers to the Local Offer as if it’s something in the future… 'will have'    We did: We changed the wording to make it current.
You said: The "Getting to Moor Lane " page does not include a map.   We did: We have corrected this and also added information for the Windham Centre so that now there is a map and access to the TFL route planner.
You said: Could we have more summer holiday activities information and could it be promoted more.   We did: The information about leisure and holiday activities is an area that we are working to improve in time for the main holidays in 2016.  It involves a lot of stakeholders and providers across both boroughs that we need to get together!