All services should be looking to get feedback from children, families and young people on their experiences of the EHC process
How is this site helping you improve the EHC process for families?
Local Area inspections will expect all services to show how they collect feedback from parents and young people and act on it.
Here we show how you can collect and use feedback, and some issues to consider.
What the code of practice says
Click here to read the document online
Effective participation should lead to a better fit between families’ needs and the services provided, higher satisfaction with services, reduced costs (as long-term benefits emerge) and better value for money. Local authorities should work with children, young people and parents to establish the aims of their participation, mark progress and build trust. They should make use of existing organisations and forums which represent the views of parents – and those which represent the views of children and young people directly – and where these do not exist, local authorities should consider establishing them. Effective participation happens when:
- it is recognised, valued, planned and resourced (for example, through appropriate remuneration and training)
- it is evident at all stages in the planning, delivery and monitoring of services
- there are clearly described roles for children, young people and parents
- there are strong feedback mechanisms to ensure that children, young people and parents understand the impact their participation is making
Local authorities must ensure that children, their parents and young people are involved in discussions and decisions about their individual support and about local provision.
Early years providers, schools and colleges should also take steps to ensure that young people and parents are actively supported in contributing to needs assessments, developing and reviewing Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.
To find out how LAs are meeting statutory obligations, it is essential that feedback from users is heard and progressed.
Collecting feedback by survey
You can see an example of the survey we used for this project
For this project we found:
Asking parents for rating scores out of 5 allowed sufficient detail
Surveys are quick and efficient for capturing evidence from a large number of respondents in a short space of time
Parents often wanted to differentiate their survey response scores between the different people involved in steps of the process (eg the SEN team were 5/5 but the school was 2/5).
Parents were able to recall steps of the process and separate their experience of each – for example, if they were unhappy with the final outcome this did not seem to affect their ratings of the previous steps
Parents were equally keen to respond to closed (tickbox) questions as open questions (asking them to provide more detail) so provide enough space for this
Paper surveys can be handed out or posted to parents or completed with help from a support person
Online surveys enable fast and efficient analysis
We got a better response from emailing parents the link, rather than sending them a letter asking them to go online
Online surveys exclude key groups of families (with limited online access or skills); and require respondents to be able to read and write English
- Simple surveys miss important concerns
- Satisfaction scores can mask the quality of service provided (just because parents were happy with what they got doesn’t mean they got a high quality service)
- Averaged scores miss the detail of individual experiences
- Talk to families to understand the detail
Collecting feedback by interview or focus group
Interviews explore the user journey in detail along with what works and why. They also allow families to explain their personal circumstances
They take time to carry out and analyse, recruitment can be time-consuming and so are difficult for practitioners to do. The interviewer can also affect what respondents say to them, or how responses are interpreted
For this project we found:
Just recruiting during the day would have missed a lot of families.We did it during the day, evening and at weekends
Those who opted not to take part often did not want to affect the service they got (even though we guaranteed anonymity). This highlights concerns with services monitoring their own provision
Group feedback sessions involve less personal pressure and can enable different perspectives to be explored
They require good facilitation skills to enable all participants to effectively contribute and to build trust and relationships where participants
They can make it difficult to give personal details and express opinions not in line with the other participants
It is difficult to find a convenient time for all parents that will not skew who attends.
We found different responses from parents involved in local parent groups as opposed to those not involved, so only getting feedback from established groups may not reflect the whole range of experiences
Collecting feedback from young people
Parents were reticent about us talking directly to young people, normally due to the young peoples needs (social and communication issues)
We found talking to young people with those who worked with them and knew how they had been involved in the process was beneficial. However this does run the risk of young people being guarded about their answers.
We used drawing and smiley face cards to get young people to discuss their experiences
There is no ‘one size fits all’ method of consultation
We used a mixed methods approach
For this project ‘user journey maps’ were created.
We asked parents and young people to rate their satisfaction with each step of the process.
Responses can be mapped against your local process, highlighting points of strength and weakness
We then asked parents to describe their EHC journey in detail
What to do with feedback
We provided service maps and detailed feedback to the services we were working with.
We encouraged them to use an outcome-focused approach to consider their next steps.
What is causing dissatisfaction?
What would the experience ideally be like – for parents, young people and practitioners?
What steps need to be taken? By whom and By when?