The Director of Education & Skills introduced the report.
· There was a discussion around KPI BPB225e ‘Increase the percentage of Final EHCPs (Education Health and Care Plans) issued within 20 weeks excluding exception cases and Members were advised that the 42.7% of finalised plans within the 20-week timescale was a quarterly figure, and that a decline was expected due to increased requests.
· The Chair noted that there had been increased requests for plans which reflected a higher demand on the service.
· There was a discussion about how capacity could be increased to mitigate issues with processing EHCPs, and members were advised that there was an ongoing recruitment process to appoint additional educational psychologists over the next 12 months; and that the service had experienced a significant amount of pressure due to staff absence and staff retention had been a challenge; the dip in output due to a lack of staff capacity in the system had been mitigated by a salary review of case workers which had enabled better recruitment and retention.
· The Commission was advised that as well as a salary review and use of the Educational Transformation funding to assist in increased capacity, there had been a review of how staff could be supported within the end-to-end process, and that the increase in strategic management capacity had a positive effect. ?
· Members were advised that there were plans to provide increased support for early communication and family support to take pressure off later stages; and that this was part of a wider transformation project, and that the team was reliant on assessments from a wide range of professionals across the system whose services were also under significant pressure.
· The Deputy Mayor, Children Services, Education and Equalities, told the Commission that she had recently met withSpecial Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) staff and noted that the system was under pressure; and that she had met with Cabinet lead members across the country to discuss those issues, and good practice to increase capacity across the system; that everything was being done to reach the 20 week target; and that a move to prevention via planned services required better integration polices, which demanded accountability and engagement of school leaders and different ways of delivering Special Educational Needs services for young people.
· The Director of Education & Skills referred to the need for early identification and support which prevented needs from escalating; that the importance of the wider Education Transformation Programme was to ensure the system worked holistically and that the right support for children and families was identified and introduced before need escalated; and this, which included looking at school -based provision, enabled staff to ensure children who required EHCPs received them in a timely manner.
· The Commission was advised that the dip in August was due to the timing of the school year – comparative charts of previous year had the same dip. Staff were encouraged to take leave in August; also, it had been particularly challenging leading up to the summer holidays as there had been attendance issues and so some of the assessments that were due to take place could not be done as many assessments were undertaken as possible.
· There was a discussion about BPC222 ‘Increase the take-up of free early educational entitlement by eligible 2 year olds’ and the Vice-Chair raised the importance of this programme, that children from more deprived areas were behind their peers when they started school, and so this programme assisted with the essential preventative ‘up-stream’ work, to identify children who required support before needs escalated.
· Members be provided with further detail and clarification of the figures related to BPB225e ‘Increase the percentage of Final EHCPs issued within 20 weeks excluding exception cases’;
· Members be provided with detailed outputs of the Education Transformation Programme which had been looked at by the Schools Forum;
· Members be provided with further detail and clarification of the % take-up of the free early educational entitlement by eligible 2 year olds (BPC222), and detail of the Parent Champions, including whether they are paid;
· Members send further questions about the Performance Report to the scrutiny advisor, at email@example.com; and written responses be published.