Melissa Farnham has been a School leader representing young people with Special Education Needs and Disabilities for 15 years and is the CEO of new company, MySide.
According to 2019 government figures for England, more than 2,700 children and young people with an education, health and care plan (EHCP) are classed as "awaiting provision" for education - a rise since 2018.
A recent article on 10-year old Jenna’s campaign adds real-life to context to this issue with her ongoing battle for the chance to continue her education. Jenna has anxiety and ADHD and at a young age has already experienced the gaps our education system has when it comes to SEND inclusion. Two years on she is still waiting for an appropriate placement despite already having missed out on a substantial portion of her school time that should have been spent socialising and enjoying herself with peers rather than being limited to home schooling. A great example of the young people who are missing out due to society’s 3D culture (Disabled, Disengaged and Disappeared), unfortunately Jenna is not an isolated case and reports of children with special needs being forced to stay at home is becoming increasingly common.
Taking on board the gap in education and the need that is demonstrated across the landscape of young people effected by Special Needs I am really pleased to be able to introduce you to our new company, MySide. I am delighted to be working closely with COINS Foundation, which has many partnerships with organisations supporting, Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, As a social change company, we aim to addresses the gap existing in the current system and empower young people to have the best life chances on a level playing field. We have not set out to save these young people but to stand by their sides and work closely with them so that the door to a better education can be opened.
MySide believe that all young people are entitled to reach their true potential and we are ambitious for the families of young people with SEND. The goal is to foster independence in each young person, harnessing their strengths and building their confidence to enable them to take on areas that they find more challenging. Working on an individual basis, they can continue to grow and learn so that they don’t just realise their own capabilities, but they continue to empower the next generation too.
As a company we are committed to the following values: Futures, Empowerment, Education and Resilience and in order to maintain these and achieve the desired outcomes for students we will focus on three key areas. Over the years I have witnessed the benefits that a flexible curriculum can have on a young person’s educational experience and learning so part of our business will be offering learning hubs for young people who are either struggling or simply not in the education system. The joint goal is to return the student to mainstream education or another appropriate setting within the 24 months and having obtained government support for this programme, we are confident that there s both a demand for this transitional programme and that it will be effective. Our second role is to use our experience to work closely with schools to ensure that they are meeting all requirements and can maximise learning for these young people. We have developed a suite of courses and reviews to assist teams and other staff across the school to identify how to use available resources to benefit the students further. Finally, as the application process for SEND support can also be a challenge for parents and families, MySide will be offering advice and assistance with the process to ensure that there is minimal disruption so that it can be dealt with quickly and efficiently.
Keep an eye out for future blogs, where I will be looking at each area in more depth, but until then, for more information take a look at our website and look out for MySide’s next steps.