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Strategic Services for Children & Young People (SSCYP) was established in 2005. It brought together two organisations: The Special Needs Consultancy, which had provided advice and support to local and national government on policy and provision for SEND since its inception in 1997; and New Directions in Behaviour Support (NDBS), which had organised conferences and network events for behaviour support staff and service managers across the UK as well as a range of training and consultancy activities.

Our experience

The organisation is led by Peter Gray who has over 20 years’ experience of working with local and national government on complex and challenging policy areas, having played a lead role in the development of Nottinghamshire’s strategy for special educational needs in the 1990s. He is known particularly for his work on the effective management of SEND funding and developing more collective systems for managing alternative provision, behaviour and exclusions.

He works with a team of experienced associates who contribute a range of strengths and expertise, which enables the organisation to be responsive to particular consultancy needs.

Our values

SSCYP is known for its strong values base. While focusing on different levels of the SEND system (national government, local authorities, schools and settings), it remains committed to achieving more positive experience and outcomes for children and young people with additional needs and their families.

It adopts a creative problem-solving approach to key policy challenges, with an emphasis on securing sustainable improvements in practice.

A strong theme in all of our work is the need for local collective responsibility to help tackle difficult issues together, through strong partnerships between local authorities, schools and families, and with other related agencies.

Our impact

Our input has contributed significantly to the development of local policy and practice. Particular examples include the move to more collective management of funding for pupils with SEND in mainstream schools and settings, systems that strengthen mainstream ownership and responsibility for pupils who are at risk of exclusion or disengagement from school, and helping to ensure that SEND services deliver maximum impact at both child and system level.

We help to secure sustained improvement through maintaining involvement at the early stages of change and development.

Our work

Examples of recent work include:

DfE: Effective management of High Needs Budgets in Local Authorities (2021)

DfE: Alternative provision: market analysis (2018)
With further work on responsibility-based commissioning models (2021)

Local authorities:

High Needs funding reviews (Camden, Barnet, Hartlepool, Nottinghamshire)

Developments in mainstream funding systems (Camden, Croydon, Kingston, Hounslow)

Special school funding developments (Brighton & Hove, Islington, Southampton)

Reviews of provision and services for pupils with SEMH/at risk of exclusion (Bromley, Greenwich, Nottingham City, Telford & Wrekin)

Our team

Peter Gray has worked for over 20 years as a consultant to local and national government, having been involved substantially as a senior officer in the 1990s in developing and implementing Nottinghamshire’s innovative approach to managing SEND. He has a particular interest and expertise in HN funding and has carried out a number of reviews for Local Authorities which have led to positive progress and outcomes. He has also supported the DFE in helping to review their approach to this area and their response to increasing pressures and demands.

Peter has also had a longstanding interest in developing better provision and services for pupils with social, emotional and mental health difficulties and those who are at significant risk of exclusion/disengagement from school. Working with NDBS (New Directions in Behaviour Support), he helped organise a number of conferences and network events for behaviour support staff and managers, linking with national government in England, Scotland and Wales. He has edited two books on this subject, based on contributions by conference presenters.

Peter was Chair of Policy for NASEN for several years and is currently co-coordinator of the national SEN Policy Research Forum. He has been a member of a range of government advisory groups and has presented evidence on a number of occasions to Select Committees and national reviews.

Penny Richardson has extensive background as a teacher, local authority officer and support service manager. She was a colleague of Peter’s in Nottinghamshire and took a lead role for SEND in the early part of the new millennium. Since leaving Nottinghamshire, she has had substantial involvement in a number of Authorities, in some cases working in an interim role. She has worked with a number of LAs that have been in significant financial difficulty requiring practical support to move forward. Her real strength is in combining strategic awareness with an ability to manage operational detail. Penny’s contribution is always valued and she continues to be in demand at local area level.

Fiona Phelps has recently joined the SSCYP team. She was previously Assistant Director for Education and SEND for the London Borough of Sutton, where she initiated substantive changes to SEND policy and practice (including the commissioning and funding of specialist provision and improvements in funding and support for pupils in mainstream). Following her appointment to this post, she also successfully led the Authority’s response to Ofsted’s requirement for a Written Statement of Action.

Prior to moving to Sutton, she was Principal Advisor for Inclusion/School Improvement Partner for special provision in LB Hammersmith and Fulham and Head of SEND services for the London TriBorough.

Pat Bullen has over 30 years of experience as a teacher, head teacher and senior education leader, having qualified in 1984 to teach children with severe learning difficulties. Following a number of years coordinating the Regional SEND Partnership in the East Midlands, she has worked as an independent educational consultant, contributing at a number of levels: as an SEND and Inclusion adviser for Leicester City, a member of NASEN’s national training team, and a member of the NDTi ‘Preparing for Adulthood’ team. She has a strong commitment to supporting learning and the development of effective practice through area networking.

Rob Lancaster has substantial experience of leadership within the alternative provision and SEMH sector, having been Head of the SEMH school in Nottingham and overseen the County’s Pupil Referral Units. Until his recent retirement, he was also Nottinghamshire’s lead officer for behaviour and exclusions.

David Stewart has extensive experience of the special school sector, having worked for many years as Head of Oakfield school in Nottingham which caters for pupils with SLD/PMLD and has continued to be judged as outstanding. He has also played a significant role in strategic developments in Nottingham City and is currently convening the Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire SEND Employment Forum.

Contact us


For further information, please contact Peter Gray (Senior Consultant) on:
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