Risedale College pupils have helped to shape the future of special educational needs and disability (Send) provision in North Yorkshire.
Three students from Risedale attended the Young People Send Consultant event held at County Hall, Northallerton, last week.
North Yorkshire County Council is currently reviewing its Send provision for young people aged 0 to 25 years and is developing a strategic plan of how this provision should be implemented, due to be published March 2018.
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Risedale was one of only five schools in North Yorkshire invited to help the council highlight which services young people find effective and any improvements that could be made.
Higher level teaching assistant Nicola Townsend asked Year 8 students Grace Allport, Ruby Shrehorn and Olivia Williams to represent Risedale as she felt they had the confidence to express their opinions and speak with adults and other young people, ensuring their views were included as part of the development plan.
The event was held in the Grand Meeting Room at County Hall where an assembly of young people were asked to discuss and debate various topics including health, educational activities in the local area and any SEND support this may require.
Initially the students worked within their own familiar school groups, eventually mingling and working with pupils from other schools whom they did not know.
They were all asked about their own thoughts on subjects that affect them; positive things, worries and hopes for the future.
Grace said: “I hadn’t really understood the SEN list and why we had it. After today I’ve realised that some people have issues and disabilities and really do need some extra help in school.”
Olivia said she was happy to find out that she was not alone and there were others out there that were like her.
She added: “Many people struggle and anyone can have learning needs.”
Ruby said: “I learned that I am braver than I thought. I felt quite comfortable standing up and having my say in the debating room. I felt I was able to voice my opinions and be heard. I also realised I can be quite defensive in my manner and sometimes use the wrong tone to convey my opinion.
“I was able to have my say without being defensive so my tone was different. I really enjoyed the discussion and would like to help Mrs Townsend to start up a debating group at Risedale.”
Mrs Townsend said: “The girls got a lot out of the day and unanimously said they felt important and that their opinions really did matter. They all felt they were listened to and what they said mattered as when they were asked questions the delegates made notes of their responses.
“It’s great to know that the contributions these Risedale students made today will directly influence the big decisions that the council will be making about education and SEND provision in the future.”