The Director of Education & Skills introduced the report. The Head of Service, Inclusive City and Virtual School Headteacher also spoke to the report.
· Members welcomed the fact that Alternative Learning Provision had been brought to the Scrutiny Commission.
· There was a discussion around the need to address poor outcomes for young people coming out of mainstream settings and the associated high social emotional mental health needs; members also discussed the need to mitigate inequalities in the system.
· The Commission was informed that the inclusion element in the pathway from mainstream had been addressed with a number of deep dives and individual case studies; the next step would be an analysis the detail which would be within Phase 2 of the transformation work.
· The Commission heard that there had been a positive session with Alternative Learning Provision Leaders across the city which provided a collaborative forum to share the commitment of better outcomes for young people. This would include reaching into mainstream settings to support young people rather than having a separation of mainstream and alternative provision settings.
· Members were advised that the high number identified with social emotional mental health issues was an issue which could be tackled by addressing the approach to inclusion in the city; that there should be a focus on learning needs rather than behaviour. This was in the process of being addressed via the Special Educational Needs and Disability Written Statement of Action, which included what provision was available and how early identification was achieved.
· Members thanked and commended Officers for the progress made to date.
· There was a discussion about how smaller provider organisations could be supported so as not to be excluded due to lack of capacity or skills to adhere to the service level agreements and quality assurance required with associated reports.
· Members were advised that there was a role for a variety of providers working with young people in different ways; that the report focused on the large providers, rather than the network of smaller youth organisations, but the point would be considered to ensure the smaller providers would not be negatively affected.
· The Alternative Learning Provision Hub was highlighted which had a focus to support smaller providers meet the criteria to be on the framework.
· Members were advise that the link between SEND unmet need and Alternative Learning Provision was a known challenge and the ongoing work would address this; and that Alternative Learning Provision should be short term and tailored within a specific space of time.
· There was a discussion about Hospital Education, and how children, once admitted could be brought back into mainstream; and how different schools may utilise alternative provision differently. Members were advised that Council would not have sight of all referrals or the services schools purchase; so one of the challenges was how could there be a city-wide view of what the purchase and use of provision looked like and how this fitted in with the Council’s ambition of a culture of inclusion in mainstream settings.
· The Commission was advised that there was a range of services and needs across hospital education, so to look at how children were referred and which areas they had been taught in was complex. referred and what areas its complex. Hospital education took refusals seriously, and worked collaboratively with secondary schools, which had provided structures to help the Council influence and access information in this area.
· The Chair thanked all Officers associated with Hospital Education, who had gone above and beyond.
· That, following the publication of the independent report, Alternative Learning Provision be considered when next year’s work programme is agreed.
· That the Belonging Strategy be considered when next year’s work programme is agreed.