[Adrian Leach, Head of SEND, to briefing paper]
Cllr Michael Hardacre, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, briefed the panel about the background to the SEND Self Evaluation briefing paper. The panel were advised of changes made to the evidence that local authorities are required to provide in preparation for an external inspection and changes to the self-evaluation framework document. The joint inspection of services will be led by OFSTED and the Care Quality Commission who will provide an external evaluation of the local area services and how different partners are meeting their statutory duties to children and young people in Wolverhampton. The inspectors will make an assessment about how well children and young people are being supported to achieve the best educational outcomes and the performance of partnership arrangements.
The Council is not solely responsible for the delivery of services to children and young people. The services to children and young people are delivered as part of a partnership arrangement with colleagues in Wolverhampton CCG, RWHT, Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Public Health, Schools and other partners. Adrian Leach, Head of SEND, advised the panel that Wolverhampton is one of a few authorities who have not yet been inspected and gave a summary of the work being done to prepare for it. The work is expected to be completed in the next few weeks. An inspection of services is expected before the end of academic year. The Council will be given a weeks’ notice.
The panel discussed the plans for the “Spotlight of SEND” visioning day on 4 October 2019. The Head of SEND advised the panel the event is aimed presenting information to parents, carers and a range of professionals to get a range of views on the draft SEND document. The new inspection framework requires evidence to be presented to show that the document has been co-produced.
The panel queried the arrangements for monitoring the implementation of any actions arising from the Area SEND Self Evaluation report. A progress report will be presented to the Cabinet Member and other partners to review progress in implementing any follow up actions. The Head of SEND agreed to share a copy with the panel before the end of November 2019.
The panel queried the support available to families and carers of children and young people with disabilities or illness who may need a short break respite care. The Head of SEND advised the panel that parents have access to support through the MASH. The SEND Commissioning Board have discussed the concerns of parents of children with special needs and the specific issue of equality of access to services during the last 12 months and will be making recommendations to parents as the next step and then onto the SEND Partnership Board to consider the report and parent views. The Cabinet Member for Education and Skills praised the excellent work being done by the GEM Centre to support families and children with disabilities.
The panel discussed the concerns about the number of school exclusions and whether more work needed to be done to avoid this. The panel discussed the possible stigma attached to Pupil Referral Units and whether a name change would help parents to see the positive impact that they can have. The Head of SEND advised the panel that a range of actions have been taken in response to the high rate of exclusions and disproportionate number of Black Afro-Caribbean boys. The Council does offer challenge to Headteachers about the decision to exclude.
The Cabinet Member for Education and Skills commented that the Headteacher and School Governors have the right to exclude a pupil. The Head of SEND advised that the issue of school exclusions is on the agenda for a meeting with Headteachers to look at the factors driving the increased number. The panel were advised that the number of exclusion while high, have reduced by 10% compared with the previous period.
The panel discussed the role and PRUs. The Cabinet Member for Education and Skills commented that the success of work done by people working in PRUs and that currently all are rated as being at least good by Ofsted and that there is strong focus on getting pupils back into mainstream education. The Cabinet Member praised the excellent work of the people working in PRUs in offering appropriate pastoral, behavioural and physiological support to pupils referred to the service.
The panel discussed the funding of the PRU and what happens to funding given to a school based on pupil numbers at the start of the year who is later excluded. The Director of Education and Skills explained how school budgets are readjusted where pupils have been excluded. The local authority must deduct from the school’s budget in-year the amount within the formula relating to the age and personal circumstances of that pupil, pro rata to the number of complete weeks remaining in the financial year from the ‘relevant date’. The PRU is a funded service.
1. The panel agreed to note the progress.
2. The Head of SEND a progress report on actions from Area SEND Self Evaluation with the panel before the end of November 2019.