Special Educational Needs Success

A LIVERPOOL City Council team has become the first of its kind in the country to receive national recognition for the level of support it provides for children with autism.

The council’s Special Educational Needs Inclusion Support Service (SENISS) has become the only outreach service to achieve Autism Accreditation with Advanced Status from the National Autistic Society.

The accreditation was set up to improve the support available to autistic people both in the UK and across the globe. To receive the accolade, organisations must prove that they have achieved the society’s ‘standard of excellence’ through a programme of self-examination and development.

In making the award, the National Autistic Society highlighted SENISS’s work in: ‘delivering consistent and highly effective support to autistic people across Liverpool’ and ‘establishing positive relationships with families and professionals’.

The team was also praised for offering high-quality training courses to families and professionals and involving them in the future plans for autism support across the city.

Jonny Knowles, who is the Accreditation Advisor for The National Autistic Society, said: “Being autistic means you feel, hear and see things in a different, often in a more intense way to others, and may struggle in certain social situations.”

“Autism accreditation highlights good autism practice and we are very pleased to celebrate SENISS’s achievement. We believe it will inspire other organisations to improve the way they support autistic people.”

SENISS exists to provide quality support to pupils with special educational needs in order to promote their inclusion within mainstream schools and nurseries to enable them to achieve their full potential.

The SENISS Team consists of 12 specialist advisory teachers and two Autism Spectrum Disorder trainers.

The Specialist Advisory Teachers work across the private, voluntary and independent nursery sector, primary and secondary schools. The service provides support for pupils through observation, consultation, teaching, assessment and training. The ASD trainers work specifically to support families. SENISS is also involved in the strategic planning for autism provision across Liverpool.

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Cllr Barbara Murray, said: “In Liverpool, we believe that it is critical that children with autistic spectrum disorder and their families have the right system of support in place. Not only does this help the child cope with the unique aspects of their condition, but it also provides parents with the support they need to face the challenges of raising a child with autism.

“We are immensely proud of the work of the SENISS team and this recognition is well-deserved. It is clear they have helped to provide support, reassurance and a better quality of life for children and families living with autism across Liverpool.”

In a recent survey of people who use the service conducted by the National Autistic Society as part of the accreditation process, it was revealed that:

100 per cent of the pupils believed that the support they were given was good and that staff listen to how they want to be helped.

100 per cent of returns stated that “staff’s understanding of their child’s needs is good or always good”.

Some of the typical comments from professionals, such as teachers, who work with the team included:

  • “SENISS professionals are fully committed to the children, families and co-professionals and other service providers they work with. The child/young person is at the heart of all they do. Their advice and support is invaluable to our school.”
  • “The service provided by the professional to our school has consistently been of a high standard. The advice and support offered takes the child’s individual needs into account and is very practical. The staff value the professionalism and quality of the professional.”
  • “SENNIS provide an outstanding service. As an experienced reception teacher in a mainstream setting, we are under constant and increasing pressure to support and teach children that would previously have been placed in units or special schools. Without SENNIS support we would not be able to meet some of the children’s needs. They have a wealth of subject specialism to draw on and offer practical and realistic resources, support and diagnosis of children’s complex needs. SENNIS also provide support and feedback to parents often having difficult conversations around children’s needs.”
  • “We always feel much supported by the specialist teachers from SENISS. The strategies and techniques they suggest have been very useful to support our children to make progress.”


PHOTO: Pictured with the NAS award are Katie Roscoe (Operational Manager of SENISS), Alastair Youdan (Specialist Support Services Team Manager) and Alison Woodburn(Operational Manager of SENISS).


Liverpool Waterfront