SEND Local Offer - Week Notes

Here at Service Transformation we’re excited to continue work on a new and improved SEND Local Offer.

The Local Offer supports children and young people with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND). It provides information, advice and support for families in Essex.

We carried out a 12 week Discovery phase last year to understand families' needs from the Local Offer and what we could do to improve it.

We've now started work with our development partners to build the new website. We'll be working together to make sure the Local Offer provides what young people and their families in Essex need.

Thank you to all the SEND colleagues, young people and families who are working with us on this.

Week Note - 5th August 2022


Well that four day week flew by. Here's what we've been up to as we get closer to launching the new website.

Visual tweaks

Focus groups and scenario test feedback on the previous design was generally positive, but people felt that the overall page was too purple. Based on that we’ve introduced a few more accent colours from our branding guidelines and added inclusive imagery to help our users find content easily but also to make the homepage more visually appealing. We are currently tweaking some small formatting issues to be ready for the next testing session.


We've redesigned some content, focusing on breaking things down by need, as conversations with health professionals showed us that the journey is a little different for areas like Hearing and Vision compared to areas like autism and ADHD. We need to validate and test this both with professionals and with parents.


We're figuring out some of the essential content, such as strategies that must be published. The new site has a much more accesible format for displaying these, which means we can get rid of some of the inaccessible PDFs from the current site.


We've also been cleaning up the listings data, to avoid bringing over listings that are out of date. This process will have a few steps: once we transfer things over, we'll need to meticulously go through them to make sure they're working in the new format. Then we'll be contacting suppliers to make sure their listings are up to date.


Week Note - 30th August 2022


Hope you all had a fantastic bank holiday. Here's what's been happening with the Local Offer website in that last week.

Health – to ICB or not to ICB, that is the question

Our conversations with health colleagues are continuing as we aim to find the best solution to guiding people through journeys such as getting a diagnosis. One area of complexity is how something called an ICB (integrated care board) divides up services by area. For parents this often means getting in touch with a different team depending on where their GP is based. We're looking at how much information we give on this to help people figure out who to contact, without overloading people with professional information.

Scenario time

We're running a second round of scenario tests looking at journeys through our local offer site. Get in touch if you're interested in being involved. If you've expressed interest in the past you should have received an email about this.

Migration situation

We're currently working through how best to migrate our exisiting directory listings onto the new Local Offer. We've been reviewing our existing listings to make sure they are all still relevant  and mapping the old listing structure to our new structure so we can migrate the right information. We're also working on a quick and simple way for providers to let us know something has changed with their service and the information on the Local Offer needs to be updated. 

Contact us?

We've been exploring the contact us page and what this might contain. We've been speaking to SEND colleagues about the most common queries, and thinking about the best ways to get people to the right information, without needing to be redirected if possible. We'll be prototyping a few different solutions and testing these with parents. 


Week Note - 22nd August 2022


Things have been busy in the Local Offer website development. Here's an update on what's been going on.

Testing, testing, testing

There's been a lot of testing going on! And there's still plenty of opportunities for you to get involved if you want to. We ran a workshop with young people at the end of July. We've been doing 'scenario testing' - where you're given a task and have to find your way around the website. We've also been running focus groups, interviews and 'card sorting'. Card sorting is where you group pages into categories you think fit, which helps us get the structure right. You might have seen this in action if you attended a recent SEND Roadshow!

Look and feel

With input from our branding colleagues to make sure things are consistent across SEND communications, our developers are tweaking the look and feel of the website. With colour and images, it's going from looking like a prototype to a real website. We're using input from young people and parents to inform the visuals too.

Developing the directory

Our directory will include the services that are available throughout Essex to support children and young people with SEND. Through our testing we've been gathering feedback on what information families and professionals need to know about these services. This includes things like location and what age it is relevant for. Based on what we've heard we've started building a structure for the directory listings. Creating a structure will mean that the information that is important is included and displayed in a consistent way across the different listings on the site. We'll soon be carrying out more testing to see if we've got the structure right.

Health content

The challenge with health content is that the way things work is complicated. Who people need to contact can sometimes depend on which part of Essex they live in, and on the current website it can be unclear how a process works, such as getting a diagnosis.

We're working to make the information as straightforward as we can for parents. We've drafted some written content and directory listings, and are meeting with NHS colleagues in the coming days to fact check and make sure we're getting this right.

Thanks for reading, please contact if you have any questions.


Week Note - 30th May 2022

Hello all, it's Jubilee week – we hope you have great plans for the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend and are looking forward to celebrating along with you friends, family and neighbours. It's been another busy couple of weeks for our new local offer website week.


Our survey is out now! We've already had over 200 responses. If you haven't had your say yet, there's still time. The survey is open until 6 June. If you know anyone who would also like to have their say, please do share it with them too.

Complete the survey

Untied in Diversity event

This week a couple of our team attended the United in Diversity event held at Braxted Park (24th May) by the Multi Schools Council. The event brought together different children and organisations from across Essex to hear about real life experiences and have some fun. It was fantastic to see everyone working together to put on such an engaging event for children and young people, which truly promoted diversity and inclusion. A huge thank you to everyone who took the time to speak with us about the new SEND local offer. Your insights and experiences are at the core of the new site.

Focus groups

With the survey closing soon and the rapid development of the content, directories and homepage for the new website we will soon be running focus groups to showcase the work that has been done so far and to get feedback and ideas so we can continue to build and develop your new local offer website.

If you are interested in attending a focus group you can sign up via our survey, or please email

Best wishes,

SEND Local Offer website team, Service Transformation, Essex County Council


Week Note - 16th May 2022

We hope you've all enjoyed the slightly warmer weather! We've made some great steps forward with our new local offer this week.

Interest group

Last Tuesday we shared an update with our local offer interest group. We showcased some of the content work we've been doing, examples of the different templates available from other councils as well as live feedback session on the SEND directories.

We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who was involved in the session.


We have also been working on our survey. This survey is for families and professionals to have their say on the new website. The survey will be live towards the end of next week and we encourage you to get involved and share your ideas. If you know anyone who would also like to have their say, please do share it with them too.


The team have also started to pull together a glossary of terms we will use on the new local offer website. This will help ensure that the language we use on the new website is clear, consistent and easy to understand.

Coming soon

Please look out for our survey towards the end of next week! As the sprint finishes we will also be starting to plan our next research sprint, which includes starting to look at the homepage (exciting!).

Thanks for reading, please contact if you have any questions.


Week Note - 11th April 2022

Understanding our audience

Building from the initial work done on persona development as part of our discovery, we have used this work to start identifying people who may be under-represented in the research done so far. From here, we'll be planning how best to engage with these audiences so that everyone's views and needs can be met by the new SEND Local Offer website.

Looking at content types

All of our development will be based on research with families, young people and professionals, ensuring that our final SEND Local Offer is developed in partnership with people that use it and meets their needs. One of the first things we want to do at this stage is to understand which of the content types in Local Gov Drupal will work well for our audiences, and which may need changing or developing. We'll start creating and testing some of these content types in the next couple of weeks.

Thanks for reading, please contact if you have any questions.

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  1. Comment by john mortimer posted on

    In the Discovery phase, I would be interested to know what learning made you decide that a digital solution was the way to go with such complex situations that families find themselves in? When I did this, the solution was to engage families with workers as soon as they had an enquiry.

    • Replies to john mortimer>

      Comment by Nicholas Ward posted on

      Hi John. Our current focus is on creating accessible, user-centred online information can help people to learn, understand and navigate the support that is available in their local area. Families often need more than a digital service, but we've seen that poor online information can result in frustration and confusion for families and can create an overhead for already-stretched professionals. An effective digital service can better support the needs of both families and professionals.


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