Wokingham’s SEND Youth Forum - meeting summaries

Say Yes - Youth Engagement Squad

Below are summaries of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) youth forum meetings.

SEND youth forum - 23 November 2022

Fourteen young people joined Sarah Desson, Child Friendly Project Officer at Wokingham Borough Council. We had a really useful discussion about ways to make Wokingham Borough more child and young person friendly.

Do you feel listened to?

The number of members who choose the answer to the question:

  • A lot – 5
  • Mostly – 5
  • not sure 2,
  • no – 1
  • not at all - 1

Young people said:

  • They can’t use their bus pass before 9:30 so can’t use it to get to college or work experience.
  • School don’t really listen and put in place help that has been agreed. Don’t always have the support at college that has been agreed.
  • Their Learning Support Assistant (LSA) helps others in the class and they only get a bit of help, if they ask. Often the LSA is too busy with others for the young person to ask for more help. One young person said that their LSA for a whole year didn’t understand English well so she spent a lot of time helping the LSA in class.
  • Another young person said that they were put in a corridor to do colouring if their LSA wasn’t able to help them in the class. They hate this as people stare at them as they go by.
  • School do not allow them to doodle to help them concentrate.
  • The SEND area at school is too noisy so there is nowhere to go to calm down. School have not listened to parents or young person about this.
  • Young people are not always invited to meetings about them. A teenager said that she has only recently been invited to her annual reviews.
  • They are not always listened to about their mental health at school and college.
  • A dad said that an updated Educational Psychology assessment has been refused despite his son’s needs changing a lot since the Education, Health and Care Plan.

Are all children treated equally?

No one said they agreed with this. 5 said that they disagreed with this and 9 said that they strongly disagreed.

Young people said:

  • People with a disability need to be treated the same as others. Sometimes people stay away and don’t look at them. Sometimes if they are quiet, everyone assumes they are OK when they are not.
  • People at school use “autistic” as an insult.
  • Sometimes schools ignore their needs and don’t take time to understand anxiety e.g: a young person was sat at lunch with someone who was unwell and had a sick bucket next to them, even though the young person suffers from emetophobia (a fear of being sick and seeing others be sick).
  • Some pavements in the borough are not useable with a wheelchair because they are uneven and there were not enough dropped kerbs e.g. in Woodley town centre. There needs to be more pedestrian crossings as well such as on Headley Road near Arundel Road. Other young people had seen bus drivers not helping people with wheelchairs.
  • The new play equipment at Woodford Park has nothing wheelchair accessible.
  • It is difficult to find out which secondary schools are wheelchair accessible – some schools have classes such as food tech upstairs and no lift. Lots of stairs are also tiring to some young people who don’t use a wheelchair.
  • One young person said that the college security guards wouldn’t let him look out of the windows at buses, although buses are really important to them.

Do you feel safe in the Wokingham Borough?

  • Some young people only felt safe in their garden, not in the local park. Some described broken glass, people using drugs and the smell of weed. A parent said that teenagers have less places to go now so end up making poor choices which affect others. An outdoor gym had been removed as well.
  • One young person said that they did not feel safe to go to the supermarket on their own. Another said they only felt safe out and about as long as they could see CCTV cameras in the area.
  • One young person had seen travellers photographing security cameras.
  • One young person said that felt safe at home but not at school. A number of young people said that the toilets were dirty at school and lacked privacy as doors had been removed. They talked about others smoking, and a girlfriend being sworn at while at college. One young person had not drunk anything at school to avoid the toilets and had difficulty concentrating as a result.

Sarah said that her project will start again in a year. Ramona will pass on young people’s feedback to managers.

Next session

Wednesday, 25 January 6pm until 7:20pm with Shaffrina Rogers, ARC Youth Citizens Advice Worker to discuss support available as an adult.

SEND youth forum meeting - 6 July 2022

Five young people joined us for a great discussion with Jenny Hooper, Practice Lead for SEND at Wokingham Borough Council. (A sixth young person couldn’t join us on Zoom due to our tech problems.) We discussed the SEND Review green paper and what young people want changed about how SEND young people are supported.

SEND Review: children and young people’s version (publishing.service.gov.uk)

Which are the most important parts of your Education Health and Care Plan?

Sometimes the EHCP supports young people quite well but sometimes it is not followed correctly. For example:

  • Teaching Assistants are sometimes removed without discussion with parent and young person,
  • Extra help was agreed for GCSEs but didn’t happen.
  • A separate area is given for exams but this is noisy.
  • No quiet space for sensory break.
  • Less support in 6th Form.
  • There is sometimes not enough consistency of staff such as not knowing who will be working with you in September and having different staff all the time.

What do you think is important when Local Authorities put a list of schools together (for young people moving school and who have an Education, Health and Care Plan)?

Some agreed it would be good to have a list of schools so that you know what options there are. For some it is important to be with friends they know from their previous school, for others it is most important to get the right course.

Some knew what kind of career they wanted and which college next. Others had lots of skills, such as making practical things, but weren’t sure what they wanted to do next.

What kind of support is most helpful to prepare you for adulthood?

  • Help with managing money
  • Help with time management
  • Work experience -young people can go to SENDIASS for help. Visit the SENDIASS website
  • Social skills
  • Travel training – Optalis do this for young people they are working with Supported Employment Service
  • Information regarding learning to drive – what are the rules if you have a condition like ADHD? Young people also need an instructor who understands different needs.
  • Communication including making appointments and booking people to come and fix things.
  • It is difficult to get references from school for work.

If you have ever been in alternative  provision, what would  have helped you stay at school instead?

Our young people hadn’t had alternative provision. One had been offered it but someone who had been nasty to them attended.

What might help you take part in an apprenticeship?

Our young people had good ambitions and many would prefer an apprenticeship, as they are more practical learners and like hands on experience. It also means that you don’t have to move away for University.

Elevate in Wokingham are good for finding out about apprenticeships. Visit the Elevate Me website for further information.

Next session

Ramona has got a speaker for a session on dealing with bullying and rude comments. A session that young people asked for last time.

Young people would also like to find out more about social care as an adult. Ramona will contact the Preparing for Adulthood Team that provides social care for 18 – 25 year olds.

Contact details

Name: Ramona Bridgeman - Children and Young People’s Participation Officer, Me2 Club

Email: ramona@me2club.org.uk

SEND youth forum meeting - 14 March 2022

13 young people came to our second SEND youth forum meeting.

Guest speaker from Adviza

Amy Elding, the Intensive Support Coach from Adviza’s Berkshire Education Employer Partnership (BEEP) project, talked to us about options after school and college. These are called post 16 and post 18 options.

Until you are 18, you have to do some education either full-time or combined with work.

There are a number of different options:

Foundation and Entry Level courses at college

These can teach work skills such as hair and beauty, animal care, catering or skills for life for example taking a bus or cooking. You don’t need to be able to read and write for a foundation course. The college will teach maths and English tailored to the individual young person. Berkshire Agricultural College, Bracknell and Wokingham College and Reading College all run these courses.

T levels

T levels are worth 3 A levels. They include 80% study and 20% work and you can go onto university, a degree level apprenticeship or work. Reading College and other colleges offer T levels.


Apprenticeships are 80% work and 20% college and you get paid at least £4.81 per hour. Find out about degree level apprenticeships at:

Technical and vocational courses

Technical and vocational courses such as BTecs have different levels:

  • Level 2 - equivalent to a GCSE
  • Level 3 - A Level
  • Level 4 and 5 - Foundation Degree
  • Level 6 – Honours Degree
  • Level 7 - Master’s Degree

You can go onto work, an apprenticeship or university after a BTec

Supported Internships

Supported Internships are for young people with a learning difficulties or disabilities that means they need extra support. There are a number of local supported internship schemes running. For the latest information go to the Ways into Work website

Traineeships are work placements with a college

Some young people said that the choices within college weren’t what they needed or they hadn’t had the right support and had difficulty getting extra time.


Volunteering is a good way of getting experience and getting to know employers. Reading Voluntary Action and Involve Wokingham have details of volunteering opportunities.

Search the directory for organisations who take on volunteers 


When attending an interview you can request adjustments such as low lighting, avoiding eye contact etc. Before your interview you can also ask the company to provide you with an alternative ways to explain what the job involves such as a video of someone doing similar work. Employers have to make reasonable adjustments.

Berkshire Education Employer Partnership (BEEP) 

The BEEP support young people who are in employment as well as young people looking for education, training or employment.

For more information go to the Adviza website

If you have any questions you can email Amy at Adviza: amyelding@adviza.org.uk

Ramona Bridgman will forward Amy’s slides to the young people who attended.

Say Yes: Youth Engagement Squad

SEND Forum Logo

We had 3 fantastic entries for our logo competition, the winner will send Ramona her design.

Requests for future meeting guests

Young people would like the Wokingham’s Children’s Director to attend a future session. Ramona will try to arrange.

Next session

Guest speaker: Sue Avery, the Learning Disabilities Health & Wellbeing Project Lead for Berkshire West (Wokingham, Reading and West Berkshire) will attend the next SEND youth form

Date: 10 May 2022

Time: 5:30pm until 6:30pm

Venue: To be confirmed.

Ramona will also try to arrange for the Wokingham’s Children’s Director to attend a session.

SEND youth forum meeting - 13 January 2022

Our first forum meeting

11 young people came to our first forum meeting. Vanessa Walters from Wokingham Borough Council joined us to tell us about the Local Offer and hear what information young people wanted to be included.

The Local Offer is for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities and their families. It gives them information about what support and services are available in Wokingham. Visit the Wokingham Borough Local Offer.

Where young people get their information

Young people said that they would normally ask their parents, carer or teacher for information or Google what they wanted to know. Vanessa will add keywords such as moving from school to college to relevant Local Offer web pages so that these pages comes up in internet searches results.

To promote the Local Offe to young people the group will consider designing postcards for schools and coleges.

Young people's feedback

A few young people told us that they had little support to transition from school to college, leaving them lonely and overwhelmed. This was even for young people with an Education Health and Care Plan. They would like social stories and help with making friends are important.

What information young people want on the Local Offer

Vanessa asked young people what information they would like to see on the Local Offer and asked them to complete a survey.

Young people said that they would like the following:

  • Large fonts would be helpful
  • Information about options after school and college would be helpful.
  • Young people want to have choices
  • If we are finding subjects difficult, we want to know how to get more support, not just be moved down a class
  • Information on supported internships would be useful.
  • Information on GCSEs. A levels and NVQs that you can take at college, or when working.
  • Information on independence skills like cooking.
  • Support for becoming an adult such as careers advice, finding jobs and relationships
  • Local sports groups and activities so that young people can make friends, even if they don’t go to school near where they live.

Contact Special educational needs and disability information advice and support service (SENDIASS) if you are not being given enough information about your choices

Email: sendiass@wokingham.gov.uk

Tel: 0118 908 8233

Guest speaker at next meeting

Me2 Club will ask careers advisors to come to the next forum.

Voting on name of SEND youth forum

The group gave lots of good suggestions for a name for our youth forum. The one with the most votes was: Say YES: Youth Engagement Squad

Join the SEND Youth Forum

If you are interesting in joining the SEND Youth Forum, contact Ramona Bridgman at the Me2 Club.

Email: ramona@me2club.org.uk


Addington school, 6th Form, Woodlands Avenue, Woodley, RG5 3EU 

You can also take part on Zoom



Page last reviewed: 10/01/2024

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