AN INDEPENDENT review is being carried out into a vital service for children with hearing, communication and visual needs, which was saved following a campaign led by the Argus.

SenCom supports around 1,500 young people in Newport, Torfaen, Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly with severe learning needs - but last year it came under threat after Newport City Council said it was planning on pulling out.

At the time SenCom was described as "unsustainable" for Newport in the long term, with the proposed in-house service offering an equivalent level of service while saving £250,000.

But, following a campaign spearheaded by the Argus, the leaders of all five local authorities involved in the programme agreed to continue it until at least 2022.


And now an independent review is being carried out into the scheme to determine the "range, volume and impact" of service provision in each local authority - with a series of consultation meetings taking place across Gwent this week.

Mark Geraghty, an independent consultant, said: “An important part of the evidence gathering process is listening to the views of children, young people and the families who receive a service from one or more of the SenCom’s teams.

“In all the meetings I’ve attended so far across all levels, the passion and desire to ensure children and young people with a speech, language and communication, hearing and visual impairments receive high quality support and appropriate resources, has been manifestly apparent.

“As such, I look forward to welcome parents to any of the meetings arranged to discuss with us their experiences of SenCom.

“These views will be vital to the review in order to ensure evidence-based decision making.”

The service supports additional learning needs in specialised areas including speech, language and communication, and visual, hearing and multi-sensory impairments.

In May, the partner local authorities involved in SenCom requested the WLGA to commission an independent expert to review and report on the service to explore a “more sustainable way to deliver the regional model.”


The independent consultant, Mark Geraghty, has since arranged a number of meetings to consult with parents and stakeholders as part of the review.

The dates and locations of the meetings are:

  • Thursday, November 14: Cwmbran Stadium, 10am and 6pm
  • Friday, November 15: County Hall, Usk, 11am
  • Friday, November 15: Tŷ Penallta, Ystrad Mynach, 6pm
  • Tuesday, November 19: Tŷ Penallta, Ystrad Mynach, 9am
  • Tuesday, November 19: County Hall, Usk, 6pm
  • Thursday, November 21: Ebbw Vale Action Learning Centre, 10am and 6pm

Parents and stakeholders can also provide their feedback via a questionnaire, which can be found at