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Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG)



What’s it all about?

What is YPAG? The SEND Young People’s Advisory Group is a group of young people with SEND aged 12 – 19. It is a friendly and informal group of students who meet regularly to chat, play games, shape our local offer for SEND,  meet with guest speakers and offer feedback and views about our local area. .

Contact lauren.thompson2@nelincs.gov.uk to join through your school.

2023/24 YPAG

At this group we discussed preparation for adulthood. We had some great discussions about careers including the students’ aspirations for the future, where they go to get information, advice and guidance and how their experience of SEND makes an impact.

We were pleased to see that all students were well informed about where to go for support and this was from a variety of places such as careers counsellors, my tutor or head of year, Young people’s Support Service, Lincs2 website, careers fairs and days, mock interviews, careers talks in classes and guest speakers from industries, visits to companies like Orsted, and the docks.

Every student had an idea of what they wanted to do in the future and how to do it.

Havelock

  • I’d love to do sports journalism, specifically commentating
  • Brick layer/ construction

Franklin

Child nursing

Oasis Academy Immingham

To work in the holiday industry so that I can travel

Orchard Special School

  1. Engineer
  2. Chef

The students also drafted ideas for logo for the Preparation for Adulthood steering group. We talked about what a logo is and how it is used to symbolise a service or organisation and it’s values.

The group came up with some great ideas such as:

  • Purple is used nationally for disability power
  • We could adapt the Council logo for the SEND PfA element
  • Could they develop a slogan around a key value like aspirations?

On Thursday 25 April 2024 YPAG members came together with special guests from around the borough to pick the winners of the 2024 SEND Award Ceremony.

Schools that attended were:

  • Oasis Academy Immingham
  • Orchard Special School
  • Humberston Academy
  • Franklin Sixth Form College
  • Learning4life-GY
  • Linkage College
  • Havelock Academy

Special Guests included Vicky Birkwood, Project Lead, Education & Inclusion, North East Lincolnshire Council, NEL Parent Carer Forum (NELPCF) representative Kayleigh Broderick, Jason Land, Disability & Inclusion Lead at Grimsby Town Foundation.

Attendees also took a tour of the Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre lead by former Skipper Dennis Avery. Dennis is thought to be the longest serving “Skipper” of the Ross Tiger, being the regular captain of the ship from 1975 until 1983.

In March the YPAG Group toured Blundell Park Stadium and learned about the history of Grimsby Town Football Club, the grounds, the team, and their leaders.

They worked with Pippa Curtin, Young peoples Voice & Influence Practitioner on the top theme voted for in the young people’s Your Voice, Your Vote consultation, which was ‘more things to do and places to go’.

They were given colourful scratch cards to give their ideas about what they would like and what barrier there were to accessing activities that will be used in a visual display at The Big Conversation event this year.

Members said:

We want somewhere to go that is safe, somewhere like a park with a café and a space for animals, one that would be locked up at night so that no vandals could spoil.

Oasis Academy Immingham- Mainstream School

“Transport to and from activities is a barrier and we can be put off attending activities due to others being mean or not behaving.”

“In regards to a lack of activities, we would like to see more activities and groups available for individuals with an EHCP. Stuff like football groups, gaming groups and cooking groups.

The Orchard- Special School

Barriers are: Money, transportation, too far away, not local enough.

Activities they would like to see are: More activities on the beach, more play parks, cheaper cinema tickets, more scooter/skate parks.

Humberston Academy- Mainstream School

This is an event organised by young people for young people to plan change with decision makers.

This month Havelock Academy, Orchard Special School, and Oasis Academy Immingham joined YPAG to work with Claire Thompson, Strategic Lead for Insights NEL to discuss the Local Plan.

The group also picked the winners for the ‘Life in our area’ art competition.

The Local plan is the document that will guide where development will take place and what areas are protected.

What is the best thing about living in North East Lincolnshire?

  • Parks and the beach
  • Lots of things to do, football team to support, nice community spirit

If you could change one thing about the area what would it be?

  • less roadworks
  • a zoo
  • Would appreciate Grimsby being cleaner, there is so much litter or waste
  • More for younger kids to do
  • Needs to be more police in NE Lincs
  • Would appreciate more greenery, more flower gardens as it really brightens the area

How do you think the area should change by 2042?

  • More places in schools to be able to meet children’s needs
  • Our heritage continue to be preserved and celebrated
  • Would like to see a McDonalds in Immingham,
  • A trampoline park in NE Lincs
  • A playcentre for families to go to that doesn’t cost a lot of money

Do you think you will stay in the area?

  • ‘Definitely not, get me out ASAP’
  • ‘Might stay in Immingham but I like the idea of living in Louth when I’m older’
  • ‘I’d stay in the area and look for a job in Grimsby’

What will encourage you to stay?

  • Stay for family
  • Family and friends and have grown up here
  • A change in people

Why would you want to leave?

  • Find a brilliant job, still something in the UK
  • The people, they’re not so friendly and it’s really dirty and drowsy here
  • Would leave if family left
  • Like to go somewhere sunny

What changes do you think are needed to protect the environment?

  • Plant more trees
  • Cleaner, less litter and waste
  • Help to feed the wildlife e.g. bird feeders
  • Literally everything, the mindset is poor and there is so much litter and CO2 release is bad nationwide, push for more electric vehicle

The YPAG Group gave their views on our three draft SEND Alternative provision strategies that were out for public consultation.

14 students joined us from Healing Academy, Oasis Academy Immingham, Humberston Park School, John Whitgift, Franklin and Havelock.

They were asked adapted questions from the consultations on our vision statement, things like preparing for adulthood, developing independence, and inclusion and community at school.

What is voice telling us this month?

  • Young people would like resources bases attached to their own mainstream school that offer flexibility and support. Some settings have small bases but pupils feel more are needed.
  • Young people pre 16 are not actively involved in their EHCP planning or review. Post 16 they are invited to take part in the whole process and not just invited to the meeting for 5 mins.

Young people said:

  • “Schools tend to think of children and young people with SEND as their own category of students, it isn’t equal.”
  • “People with SEND might want the same things and opportunities as other mainstream students. We are treated differently and put all together for everything just because we need different support but it’s not always the same different support and doing that all the time makes us different.” E.g. after school clubs, excess to additional learning.

What difference have we made?

Feedback from YPAG during monthly meeting was:

  • “Online meeting is OK but the YPAG trips are amazing. It’s great to be with people who feel the same about SEND”.
  • “Thank you for the last trip. (Behind the scenes Parkway Cinema tour in December). It really lifted our spirits”.
  • “I really enjoy being part of this group and sharing ideas and thinking of new things.”
  • “I didn’t have a place before now to share my thoughts about SEND for me and for other people. I really look forward to the group. I’d like to talk to the managers at the council too”.

Our fabulous YPAG group met on Thursday 14 December at Parkway Cinema. The group is a collective of Secondary and post-16 students from around the borough who have SEND. They meet regularly online to take part in activities and share their voice about what we offer.

To celebrate their involvement so far we took them on a tour of Parkway Cinema, which was suggested by a YPAG member from Oasis Immingham.

Parkway put on a fabulous behind-the-scenes tour. We discussed the business aspects of running a cinema, as well as talking about the history of cinema, looking at old movie reels and seeing how they’ve modernised into today’s current projectors.

A huge thank you to all the students in the group for being such enthusiastic members of the group, and to their teachers, SENCo’s and TA’s who support them to join.

Our group met on Thursday 30 November to pick the winner of the YPAG Logo competition.

We played some logo themed games to see which big name brands could be recognised by their logo’s before ranking the shortlisted designs from a total of 34 entries.

The winner was from Cambridge Park Academy and will be invited to a special experience and see their design made into a graphic design used everywhere we mention the group.

The winning logo will be added here so watch this space!

On Friday 29 September, 2023 YPAG restarted for the school year.

This year we have a post 16 YPAG group including 5 new schools.

There were a lot of new starters as well as a few returning students.

We asked the students what it was that they wanted to get involved in this year. They told us they had interests in football, basketball, Lego, pantomime and theatre.

For our face to face meets they suggested we visit Blundell Park, get a behind the scenes tour of Grimsby Auditorium during pantomime season, and the cinema.

We also have lots of engagement projects for them to share their views on topics like inclusion, transport, transitions and adulthood, and other opportunities for those with SEND.

As a YPAG member you will meet regularly either online or face to face. We start with some fun games before moving onto a topic. You can share your views on things such as:

  • How can we make life better for young people with SEND?
  • What different courses would you like to be available when you leave school?
  • What activities would you like to have in your local area?
  • What can we do to make it easier and safer for young people to travel about in NEL?

Joining YPAG- the student’s view

Who will be in the group with me?

The group usually has two students from each school along with their SENCo or TA. The group is coordinated by Lauren Thompson, SEND Local Offer Engagement Coordinator and Communications Officer. Sometimes we might have guests speakers.

Do I have to write?

No. We are interested in your thoughts, opinions and ideas and we can write this down.

What if I change my mind about the group?

That’s fine. Just let your tutor or teaching assistant know.

Do I have to talk in front of other people?

It’s great if you do feel confident enough to talk in the group and give your views but nobody will ask you to stand up and speak or pick you out for a question. If you feel like joining in, that’s brilliant, if you are having a quite week, that’s okay too.

Don’t forget your Tutor or Teaching Assistant will be there.

Join YPAG

If you would like to know more about YPAG, or your school would like to get involved, then please contact lauren.thompson2@nelincs.gov.uk.

What’s on this year?

September- Together again. New starters. Post 16 YPAG update. Agenda. Games

November- Judging panel YPAG Logo competition

December- Christmas celebration– Parkway Cinema behind the scenes tour

January- Delivering Better Value in SEND

February- Your place, your future engagement discussion. Judging panel art competition entries for SENDAP Strategies, ‘Life in NEL’.

March- Easter celebration-Blundell Park tour. The Big Conversation ; young people’s voice and local decision makers.

April- Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre Tour and SEND Award judging panel with special guests.

May- Involving children and young People in recruitment at NELC.

June- Summer celebration– TBC

July- Canoe river cleaner excursion

Feedback about YPAG can be shared on this short form. SEND Feedback Form | QuestionPro Survey

Looking back

In the 2022/23 academic year the group grew to nine schools, including students from mainstream and special schools.

On Monday 15 May 2023, students will meet once again at Grimsby Town Hall. This is a special occasion as YPAG members will meet with special guests to make up the judging panel and pick the winners of the SEND Awards!

There were over 180 nominations. It was a difficult decision with every nomination shining in it’s own way. But with a lot of careful thought and deliberation nominations were shortlisted to the top three candidates for each award.

YPAG students will also get a tour of the Time Trap museum and lunch.

In March the group met face to face for the first time since covid at Blundell Park. They were hosted by Grimsby Town Sports and Education Trust.

The Special Educational Needs… – North East Lincolnshire Council | Facebook

The group had a tour of the stadium and learned about the history of the team, the stadium, their supporters, and more.

The students gave their views on inclusion at their schools. Their views will be used in the Delivering Better Value in SEND project. NELC SEND Local Offer | DBV Children and Young People – NELC SEND Local Offer (nelincs.gov.uk)

“Thank you for having Humberston, the kids were in their element after the trip. Great time had by us all ❤️”

The YPAG group restarted for the 2022/23 school year and we were pleased to see some returning students and some new faces. We welcomed back our regularly attending schools from 2021 and were happy to have the participation of two new schools Learning 4 Life GY, and John Whitgift.

Students were brought up to speed on the development of the second year of the SEND Awards, a very special ceremony that brought joy to many local people in our borough.

Picking up the mantel for this year, the group cast nominations for their teachers, support staff, and peers. Even the TA’s and SENCo’s got involved nominating students and colleagues.