Delivery of Solihull’s Joint Strategy for Children and Young People with Additional Needs
For the Board to scrutinise the delivery of the Strategy and allow opportunity for Member input.
To scrutinise the delivery against the ‘I’ statements set out in the Strategy, from the perspective of the child and young person.
SEND: Peer Challenge Outcome
For the board to be informed of the outcome of and recommendations made by the SEND Peer Review that occurred in January 2023.
For the purposes of this item the Delivery of Solihull’s Joint Strategy for Children and Young People with Additional Needs was taken first with the SEND: Peer Challenge Outcome taken after as a separate item.
Delivery of Solihull’s Joint Strategy for Children and Young People with Additional Needs
The Assistant Director – Education presented the context behind this report. SEND services across all of the country is in crisis. The Government released its response to theSpecial Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) green paper consultation – the SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan. The Head of Service SEND (0-25) (HoS SEND) then presented the report.
Before questions were taken Cllr D Gibbin thanked Solihull Parent Carer Voice for their annual gathering of partners on Wednesday 1st March as he always found it helpful to hear from those on the ground. He asked that the Democratic Services Officer circulate the Government’s response to members of the Board.
Question from the Board were as follows:
· Kate Goode – The drop-in sessions that were held were warmly received by Parent Governors and I wanted to know if we could run something similar to schools?
o HoS SEND – We did offer this to schools; however, they were poorly attended and the feedback we gained was that it was difficult for staff to have to leave the school site to go to the events. So, we are looking at how we can put on a ‘roadshow’ to reach those schools and the staff within them.
· Cllr A Wilson – Priority 4 ‘I feel welcome, understood, valued, appreciated and included wherever I go…’ is about how the public perceive those with SEND. What actions are next to improve the public perception?
o HoS SEND – We are seeking to focus on community spaces and how we can make them as accessible as possible.
· Cllr D Gibbin – Are children social care invested enough in the strategy?
o HoS SEND – The new inspection framework helps with driving the integration and multiagency work.
Action: Democratic Services to send out the new inspection framework.
· Sajida Golby – 3.3 and 3.4 highlight the response statistics which seem very low when you consider how many people have SEND in Solihull. How can we make sure we get more answers moving forward and can we have a breakdown of age/location etc?
o HoS SEND – Data breakdown would be useful, and we are looking at building this into the questions in the future to better allows us to track what services are being accessed by who. However, we didn’t on this occasion as there were already many questions in the survey.
· Cllr S Gethen – Page 55 highlights a new referral pathway which if it works as I think will be very welcomed by the community. Can you please just expand on this?
o AD-E – Colleagues in the Integrated Care Board have designed this process where you will need a single referral and then a panel of professionals will assess the referral and what services are need. This will hopefully prevent people having to repeat their stories at each referral point.
· Cllr S Gethen – Will this have a positive impact on the waiting list times?
o AD-E – That is a separate issue but what this should do is give parents an indication on when they can expect treatment.
· Cllr S Gethen – Page 56 talks about EHCP’s and streamlining the processes in place. Can you expand more on that?
o We delegate the annual review to the school as they are the people that know the child the best. It is not possible for an EHCP Officer to attend all annual reviews, but we encourage schools to ask an EHCP Officer attend if it is a particularly complex case or there has been significant change in circumstance. If we are asked to attend, then we will as we have the flexibility in the team.
SEND: Peer Challenge Review
The Head of Service – SEND (0-25) presented the report and highlighted how this was very welcomed by the service after they had requested it. There had been 15 actions identified as well as a lot of others from other plans/inspections, so the service was now looking to hold a community event to understand what the users want the services priorities to be.
Questions to the board were as follows:
· Cllr B Groom – Would it be possible to have an update report back to the board on the recommendations/actions that have been made?
o Cllr D Gibbin – We can look to build that into the recommendations.
· Sajida Golby – How long will it take us to tackle the backlog of ECHPs and are we seeing a reduction in complaints?
o HoS SEND – We had a backlog of around 2100 but as of the end of February we had 780 so progress has been made. We have been supported with extra funding from the Department for Education, this is set to expire by the end of April so we are now looking at how we can keep the tackling the backlog without the extra funding resource. I don’t have the data to hand on the complaints, but I am aware they have fallen and I would be happy to share the data.
ACTION: HoS SEND to share complaint data.
· Cllr A Burrow – Point 2.5 talks about young people acting as ambassadors for others in the community and I am unsure in this circumstance how this would work. Are we actively pursuing this?
o HoS SEND – Yes so this comes as part of our commissioned service Our Voices Heard so they are setting up groups in schools and working with a huge range of young people to reach as many people as possible. It is looking at how we can get those who people who may feel uncomfortable going to a formal event speaking up into the services they access, and this is where they ambassador can go into the schools and groups and feedback to us.
· Cllr A Burrow – It is great to see the backlog is coming down – in our efforts to do this are we sure we haven’t dropped in quality?
o HoS SEND – Each EHCP officer is Quality Assured, and we recently had a dip sample meeting with our Department for Education Improvement Advisor.
· Cllr A Rebeiro – I think from all my time on the board I have always seen the value of Peer Reveiws. I welcome the statement on Page 59 that a “Head Teacher remarked that we are all now ‘on the same page,’ regarding solutions focus”. But then if you go to Page 60 you see “A small but significant group of school leaders are committed to inclusion and inclusive practice, but we heard from parents and carers about some schools which do not welcome and include children with SEND, with children with SEND representing at least half of the children permanently excluded from school in the autumn term of 2022.” How have we got the forum but see so man schools opting out of getting behind the approach and what ideas do you have to tackle this?
o HoS SEND – So we tend to broadly have three groups of schools varying in levels of engagement on the issue. This problem has been the focus of the Best Value Programme we are in, and it has been useful to learn about what has gone wrong elsewhere and what they have been able to do to tackle those problems. We have been successful in a £1 million grant from the Department for Education to help tackle this issue and some of the things we are looking at include better training for school staff, champions within the schools’ network and additional data analysis capability for us to be able to spot trends.
· Cllr S Gethen – Have you seen complaints from parents on missing details from the old EHCP to the new one?
o HoS SEND – The older EHCP’s tended to be of a poorer quality whereas the new ones have a SMART focus. We also identified that there was quite frequently information in the wrong part of the plan so this was corrected in the new plans. Initially we did see a spike in complaints as parents thought large chunks had been removed whereas it had just been moved to a different part of the plan and we put in place a system whereby we communicate this to parents in a clear way.
The board unanimously:
· Noted the progress of activity and identified next steps contained within the Annual Report (Appendix 1).
· Note the recommendations from the SEND Peer Review (Appendix 2) report, ahead of officers re-evaluating the strategic Action Plan, and other service level plans, in light of their findings and recommendations.
· Asked that there is a clear alignment of every recommendation within the Peer Review is identified and aligned to the Strategic Action Plan or other service area, where appropriate, with SMART objectives and a report produced and reported back to the board no later than the 31st October 2023.