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Target-setting should reflect children’s and parent’s own priorities49

Another important area investigated by the BCRP research was the involvement of children, young people and their parents in target setting for SLCN.  Several key messages emerge from this research which especially link to the SEND processes around Education, Health and Care Plans with the core need to the child’s own view and goals.

  • Research showed that whilst children could identify areas of speech, language and communication they were keen to address and improve in themselves, these areas were not always consistent with their targets in school.
  • Some children considered their personal SLCN targets in school to be boring and irrelevant50.
  • The outcomes for children most valued by their parents are independence and inclusion, which are often not explicitly monitored.
  • Children and young people and their parents should be involved in SEN target setting to ensure meaningful and motivational targets.
  • Outcomes measured should include independence and inclusion, which were deemed most important to parents51.
  • Outcomes evidence should be shared with parents.

As with information sharing, these finding raise issues of policy into practice.  The need for including functional goals and looking not only at impairment but also activity and participation goals for children and young people is not new in professional guidance52.  Commissioners need to ensure that specifications for service providers and key performance indicators (KPIs) do not have unintended consequences of pushing services to deliver less functional but perhaps more easily measurable interventions which are not making a significant contribution to a child or young person’s desired outcomes.