Councillors and committees

Agenda item

SEND Transformation Plan

To report the findings of the consultation process on the draft SEND Transformation Plan, so that the results can inform the budget setting process for 2019/20.

Minutes:

At its previous meeting on 22 November 2018, the Committee had considered a report on a draft Plan for the transformation of education provision for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and the SEND Local Area Inspection undertaken in September 2018.

The report had explained that Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had conducted a joint inspection of the local area of Kingston upon Thames to judge the effectiveness of the area in implementing the disability and special educational needs reforms as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014.  As a result of the inspection findings, it was determined that a Written Statement of Action was required to address significant areas of weakness in practice and it was also determined that the Council and the area Clinical Commissioning Group would be jointly responsible for submitting this written statement to Ofsted. 

Prior to the 7 February meeting (as a late Annex 12 to the report on the SEND Transformation Plan),  proposals to deliver this service improvement were circulated and published within a Written Statement of Action which outlines the commitment of Kingston Council, Kingston Clinical Commissioning Group and Achieving for Children to address areas of concern. 

In November, the Committee had also been advised that the delivery of an action plan (i.e. the SEND Transformation Plan) that brings Kingston’s spending on high needs to a sustainable level that matches spending on high needs to the income it expects to receive in future years is a condition stipulated by the Department of Education of the £3m DSG advance Kingston received in 2018/9. The Committee were further advised that a specific and fundamental financial implication of not agreeing and implementing a SEND Transformation Plan (which would bring expenditure on SEND into balance with the Dedicated Schools Grant) was that the Council might not be able to set a balanced Budget for 2019/2020. The draft Plan therefore reflected the need to reduce forecast growth in spending on Education, Health and Care Plans and SEND support (as well as reflecting the need to improve the quality of provision), and this financial framework would be a key component of the Budget proposals to be considered at Budget Council on 26 February 2019.

The Committee in November had agreed to consult on the draft SEND Transformation Plan which contained proposals (with detailed resource implications) to address five key issues over the next three years:

  • developing new approaches to early intervention so that children with SEND are supported to remain in mainstream schools and are supported by their school at SEN Support level without needing EHCPs
  • increasing the range and quality of local education, health and care provision for children and young people with SEND
  • improving business insight and implementing more commercial approaches to the commissioning of SEND placements and support
  • engaging all stakeholders, including all parents and carers, in reforming the SEND system and changing attitudes and behaviours

·         promoting independence and strengthening transition for children and young people with SEND through the school phases and into their adulthoods.

The consultation was undertaken from 13 December 2018 to 20 January 2019 and at this (the February) meeting, the Committee received a detailed report back on the consultation within a report which included the following Annexes:

Annex 1 - SEND Transformation Plan

Annex 2 - Appendix to SEND Transformation Plan

Annex 3 - Easy-read SEND Transformation Plan

Annex 4 - Consultation document

Annex 5 - Easy-read consultation document

Annex 6 - Consultation drop-in information

Annex 7 – Easy-read version of the Committee report

Annex 8 – Easy-read summary of the consultation findings

Annex 9 – Summary of responses to the consultation

Annex 10 – A redacted version of all the online submissions to the consultation

Annex 11 – Equality Impact Assessment

(Annex 12 – Written Statement of Action)

The report summarised key findings from the consultation as follows:

·         Support for children and young people with special educational needs is a statutory duty and must be funded. Rather than cutting services the Council should lobby central government for adequate funding and find resources from elsewhere in the Council’s budget/ assets

·         More local provision is welcomed, but must be high quality. Comparable provision must be established before reductions in out of borough/independent placements are implemented

·         Early intervention is recognised as impactful but to be successful it must be adequately resourced, and it cannot and must not replace statutory support

·         Annual reviews of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) are important and must be focussed on children and young people’s needs, not driven by a target to reduce provision

·         EHCP Coordinators / SEN Caseworkers need training and support to produce quality documentation and support parents to navigate the process; better retention would be helpful in building relationships

·         Achieving for Children and Kingston Council need to regain the trust and confidence of some parents of children and young people with special educational needs

·         Children and young people want teachers and professionals to be honest, supportive and work together

·         Children and young people want their individual needs and learning styles to be understood and responded to, including appropriate learning environments; a wide range of interesting and fun lessons and leisure opportunities

·         Young people want support post 16, work experience and support to prepare for adulthood.

In addition, to assist Members to conscientiously consider the responses to the consultation, a detailed briefing was provided on 5 February for all Members prior to the meeting.  The Committee also considered the report within the context of the statutory requirements for provision, including duties under the Children and Families Act 2014, the Children Act 2004 and the Equality Act 2010 (with reference to the Equality Impact Assessment at Annex 11 to the report). 

A report was included elsewhere in the Committee’s agenda setting out the detail of the Schools Budget and Schools Funding Formula for the 2019/20 financial year.  This  included proposals for a high needs budget of £23m, and indicated that there remains a significant budget gap for high needs which it is proposed to address through the three-year SEND Transformation Plan, to bring annual spending back in line with Government DSG funding by 2021/22, whilst ensuring the needs of pupils are met and the Council meets its obligations.

The Committee noted (ref. paragraph 10 of the report) that it is intended that the Transformation Plan will be flexible, with a process for regular review and updating at the SEND Partnership Board (six meetings per year) and publishing on an iterative basis on the AfC Local Offer and Council websites, with effect from the start of the new financial year.

The Committee also heard representations from other councillors and members of the public attending the meeting, including Councillor Falchikov-Sumner, Councillor Jon Tolley and Mr James Giles.

 

Resolved that:

1.            the results of the consultation process on the draft SEND Transformation Plan are noted and considered;

2.            the draft Transformation Plan is approved in principle, subject to:

a. the approval by Full Council at its meeting in February of the related budget provisions for 2019/20, and to

b. the process set out in paragraph 10 of the report: and

3.            the proposed Written Statement of Action, as shown in Annex 12, is approved for submission to Ofsted.

 

Voting:

For: 9 Members (the Chair, Councillor Margaret Thompson, the Vice Chair Councillor Diane White, and Councillors Stephanie Archer, Mark Durrant, Sam Foulder-Hughes, Liz Green, Munir Ravalia, Anita Schaper and Annette Wookey)

Abstaining: 2 Members (Councillors Ed Fram and Maria Netley)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supporting documents: