The Director for Education & Skills spoke to the report. It was noted that the new Director of Education & Skills has been in post since September and the handover will continue for some weeks.
There was a discussion about the Resolution for Altered Motion, SEND, at Full Council, 11th September 2018 and the Committee was advised that it is noted there is an error in referring to Full Council motion and resolution as a ‘minute’. The Committee noted it confusing for the public to label the motion a ‘minute’ so it was good this had been corrected.
The Committee was concerned about the tone of the report, specifically with regard to the legal judgment, and the Committee was advised this was not the intention and there was an acknowledgment that the Council had got things wrong and there was a need for improvement.
The Chair stated she was disappointed with the tone of the report, although happier with verbal summary and so reassured; and highlighted the scrutiny Task & Finish group had been stopped with an understanding there was to be communication of the development of an action plan which had not been forthcoming.
The Committee noted that the Council should consider better communications, and more information should have been provided when the data report was published.
The Committee was advised that there was a commitment to provide transparent and better communication, and developing information would be subject to scrutiny.
There was a discussion about performance, and the Committee noted that the majority of EHCP annual reviews hadn’t happened so there was not any evidence to measure improvements, and this was compounded by the fact the data review pointed to data issues; the Committee was advised that there had been access to 2019 outcomes which were not previously available.
The Committee was advised that assessments are now being completed at a higher rate since July although this is still not good enough and there is a need to look at capacity and resilience.
There was a discussion about the data issues and the Committee was advised that data was not accurate, and the data migration issue did not cause additional work for people producing the EHCPs, although masked some important issues and so manual extraction of data was required which took 2 days; all data after April 2019 was fine to use.
There was a discussion about recruitment and team capacity, and the Committee was advised that this dominates the issue of the time it takes to issue Education, Health & Care Plans; recruitment and retention has proved difficult; there has been a scarcity of educational psychologists, needed for the process, and there is a focus on recruitment.
The Committee noted recruitment could be taken to the HR Committee to look at.
The Cabinet Member for Education and Skills said that there was a need for more staff and a business plan was being developed addressing this.
There was a discussion around the budget for high needs, and the Committee was advised there was a shortfall of approximately £2M.
There was a discussion about accountability of schools regarding how SEND money is spent, and the Committee was advised that whilst there has been a good relationship with schools there has not been the capacity available to do this work, recruitment has been needed.
There was a discussion about tribunals and the Committee was advised that there was learning from the Judicial Review and investment in mediation to reduce the impact on people; and the Council would like less people to need to experience the tribunal process.
There was a discussion about
quality of EHCPs and the Committee was advised of the recognised
need to look at the whole system and to re-align priorities and
place inclusion at the centre.
There was a discussion about attendance and the Committee asked whether there is an understanding of why children miss school, and what is the alternative provision offered to get children back into school; the Committee was advised that there was work undertaken about reasons for non-attendance, and this will provide a richness of information, enabling targeting of provision. There was no detail to share but there will be more detailed work in due course.