Councillors and committees

Agenda item

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Transformation Plan

To endorse the SEND Transformation Plan as a working plan for publication on the Local Offer and Council Websites

Minutes:

The report provided a detailed brief to the Board on the SEND Transformation Plan (attached at Annex 1) and recommended that the plan is endorsed as a working plan for publication on the Local Offer and Council websites early in the new financial year.  Its main purpose is to ensure that Kingston’s spending is brought into balance with the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) and is sustainable in future years and to improve the quality of education for children and young people with SEND in Kingston. 

 

The Equality Assessment was set out at Annex 2.

 

The changes made to the RBK SEND Transformation Plan since the November 2018 draft were detailed at Annex 3. The differences include changes to the financial position (i.e. forecast versus actual) and changes to the wider contents of the plan to reflect the findings of the consultation process.

 

The Health and Wellbeing Board agreed at its last meeting on 22 November that it would oversee the governance arrangements of the SEND Transformation Plan to secure full engagement from partner organisations such as the CCG, health providers and voluntary sector organisations in order to promote constructive debate, scrutiny and challenge.  It was also agreed that the Board is well placed to strategically oversee the delivery of the plan as it is the forum where leaders from the local health and care system work together to improve the health and wellbeing of the local population, including children and young people with disabilities.

 

Since the Board’s meeting on 15 November 2018, the Children’s and Adults’ Care and Education Committee (CACE) agreed on 22 November that a consultation on the draft Plan be undertaken and the results would inform the Council’s budget decision-making process for 2019/20.    The consultation results were considered by CACE on 7 February 2019 where the draft Plan was approved in principle prior to final approval at Budget Council on 26 February. 

 

The report described the consultation methodology and explained that the full consultation findings were published as part of the agenda for the CACE meeting on 7 February.  Key response headlines included:

 

·         Support for children with SEND is a statutory duty and must be funded and the Council should lobby central Government for adequate funding and resources found from elsewhere in the Council’s budget/assets

·         Additional local provision must be high quality

·         Early intervention must be adequately resourced and not replace statutory support

·         Annual reviews of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) must be need-focussed and not target-driven to reduce provision

·         EHCP coordinators and SEN caseworkers need training to complete documentation to  a high standard and support parents through the process

·         AfC and RBK need to regain the trust and confidence of some parents and children with SEND

·         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

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

 

Responses to these points are set out in Annex 3 to the report to this meeting and reflected in the final Plan at Annex 1.

 

In her introduction to the report Pauline Maddison, Interim Director of Children’s Services, stated that the SEND budget position requires a complete transformation in thinking and systems approach which will include greater in-borough provision. Most Local Authorities will now be required to submit a deficit recovery plan to the DFE in the light of the overspend on/send provision and Kingston will have to resubmit the financial plan in the format set by the DFE.

 

There is a growing recognition that funding is insufficient to fulfil the requirements of the legislation and officers have lobbied MPs and others.

 

Ashley Whittaker, Programme Manager, added significant changes to the plan are set out in Annex 3.  The financial situation has improved with an additional £125M available nationally this year and a further £125M in 2019/20.  Kingston has received £417K for 2018/19 and £417K will be forthcoming for next year. Overall expenditure in this year is slightly less than forecast in the autumn.


He highlighted some of the responses to the comments set out in Annex 3 and listed above.  Notable points included:

·         The intention to increase local provision and reduce reliance on out of borough support.  However the benefits of the proposed new school will be several years away.

·         The Council has agreed £280K additional funding to support early intervention.

·         Initiatives are being developed to regain trust with parents and progress has been made with the parent-carer forum.  However the monitoring visit highlighted that progress with the forum needs to be accelerated.

·         A document will be produced in the summer detailing views of children and young people about what they would like to see provided.

 

Members acknowledged that the Transformation Plan was a superb piece of work and a further comment was made concerning the confirmation of the removal of moving funds from school block to high need block.

 

A number of questions were asked.

 

Mr Rob Robb (in the gallery) asked whether there was a short fall on EHCPs and the officer responded that there were three tiers of need.  Needs of a certain level would lead to the child being added to the SEN register and plan would be drawn up for in-school support by a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO).  Where needs are greater than can be meet in school then an EHCP could be drawn if a needs assessment indicates the need for this. An EHCP can continue until age 25 but will cease before this if it is no longer needed. It was pointed out that people at Post 16 have to self-declare needs at college.


Mr Robb drew attention to cases where people have sought private diagnosis of autism. In response it was confirmed that school staff are able to identify needs and access assessment by educational psychologists. However the speed of diagnosis would depend on the needs of the child. School are required to provide for needs regardless of whether a formal diagnosis has been made.  The Portfolio Holder for Children’s services stated that an improved pathway for ASD is being trialled in Richmond and this will happen in Kingston.  She requested that the update on the Plan in six months’ time includes details of what is working well and what needs further attention.


In response to a question from the Co-Chair, Pauline Maddison confirmed that it will take time to put the Transformation Plan into practice and make the required organisational changes.  

 

The Co-Chair acknowledged that there is increasing recognition by Government that SEND is severely underfunded and proposed that the Board writes formally to the Secretary of State for Education or the Chancellor of the Exchequer to state that in the view of the Board that this area needs more funding.  A suggestion was made that there could be more leverage if the Board writes to the Member of Parliament for Kingston and Surbiton.  It was agreed to write to all.  The draft would be agreed by the Board.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.    The SEND Transformation plan is endorsed by the Health and Wellbeing Board as a working plan for publication on the Local Offer and Council websites; and

 

2.    A formal letter concerning the underfunding of SEND services, the content of which is agreed by the Board, is sent to the Secretary of State for Education, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Member of Parliament for Kingston and Surbiton.

 

Voting:  Unanimously in favour

Supporting documents: