Agenda item

Progress report on the implementation of the Special Educational Needs and Disability reforms

(To receive a report which provides an overview of the first full academic year following implementation of the Special educational Needs and Disability (SEND) reforms; comparative financial information between 2014/15 and 2015/16; a brief update on activity so far this current academic year and information on key lessons learned to date)


Consideration was given to a report which provided an overview of the first full academic year following the implementation of the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) reforms; comparative financial information between 2014/15 and 2015/16; a brief update on activity so far this current academic year and information on key lessons learned to date.


The SEND Team Manager introduced the report, and provided a further update to the meeting and some of the points highlighted included the following:

·         The main change had been the change from statements to Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.  It was highlighted that this was not just the new ones, but also the children transitioning from existing statements.

·         The introduction of the option of personal budgets had also been a new challenge, and the need to be transparent about how they were spent.  This had led to closer work with families.

·         There was now more emphasis on outcomes and how young people were supported to meet their aspirations.

·         There had been three main areas of work which were the production of new plans, working under a different timescale, and the transferring of existing statements into EHC plans.

·         There had been an average of 50 new requests per month for EHC needs assessments, which was an increase.  It was reported that in Lincolnshire, 26% of requests for an assessment were refused, but officers were looking at how they could work with those families to ensure that SEN provision was sufficient.

·         In the first year there were 938 children to transfer from statements to EHC plans, and there were still 85 which were outstanding, however, it was believed that they would be completed shortly.  For this year (2016/17) there were 1895 to transfer, and this number was currently on target.  Next year (2017/18) there would be 530 to transfer, and these were mainly for those children at secondary school.

·         Members were advised that a working group and a parent carer forum had been set up, which had good attendance.  There was also a steering group which was the more strategic group.  It was noted that there was very good attendance across all partners, and officers were hearing on a monthly basis how the implementation was working.

·         Considerable training and development had been carried out.  The SEND reform grant was being used to support this, and a tribunal officer had also been appointed.

·         There was continued work with children and families.

·         Officers had worked with families and young people on the redesign of the EHC plan, and what was working, and what was not.  It was noted that the special schools continued to transfer their statements to EHC plans, and the authority now had a dedicated officer to work with the special schools.


The Committee welcomed Coralie Cross, the Vice-Chairman of the Parent Carer Forum, and her daughter Emma to the meeting.  Members were provided with an update on how the reforms were being implemented from the perspective of a parent and young person and some of the points highlighted included the following:

(Coralie Cross)

·         She had been invited to be a part of the SEND project board from the start, and the authority had engaged well with the Forum.  Representatives attended regional meetings with the authority as well as reporting to the DfE.  There were a few examples of good practice which should be highlighted to the Committee which included:-

Ø  The SEND Team Manager had invited the Forum to participate, and had made changes where they had been highlighted.

Ø  Officers had been very proactive and engaged in the design of the EHC plan request form

Ø  The local authority had held locality events

·         There was concern that some of the SEN provision was not person centred, and feedback had been received from parents.

·         There was still a big gap for 19-25 and parents were struggling with a lack of information.

·         It was felt that training was needed for the adult care social workers as they had not been involved in the EHC plan process.

·         The Forum had carried out a survey and had received 570 responses, and were about to publish their final report.  It was reported that 80% of parents were satisfied with the current education setting.

·         The local authority had been struggling due to the turnover of staff and the level of detail required.

·         There were concerns about the amount of SENCO provision.

·         Parents were still very confused about the local offer, and only 40% of respondents knew how to access information about this.

·         It seemed that health services were reluctant to be involved.

·         In conclusion, the SEND reforms had been challenging to the local authority, parents and the parent carer forum.

(Emma Cross)

·         She had been involved in the design of the EHC plan request form.

·         Her EHC plan meeting had not been a positive experience, but felt that this could depend on the case worker.  However, the issues had now been resolved, and the school had been very good.

·         The Internship Team had been very supportive.

·         Generally it had been a positive experience, even though there had been a few issues, but it was suggested that there may be a need for two case workers as there was a lot of pressure involved in producing these plans.


Members were provided with the opportunity to ask questions to the officers present in relation to the information contained within the report, and that which had been reported to them, and some of the points raised during discussion included the following;

·         The reduction of the timescale from 26 to 20 weeks had been a huge difficulty for the authority.

·         The new system required a person centred approach which mean that staff were out meeting with families.

·         Officers felt confident that they were getting used to the new way of working and there had been big improvements in the training being delivered.  The second year was showing that performance was quite high.

·         Members commented that the found the report really helpful, and that it was positive that the transitional arrangements were settling down.

·         Concerns were raised in relation to mediation, and that decisions were being overturned when new information was received.  It was queried why the correct information was not being obtained in the first instance.  Members were advised that for mediation there was a 6 week process to gather information.  The Tribunal Officer was going to produce a very detailed letter which set out what information was needed, as a lot of 'no' decisions were due to not having the right evidence.

·         It was commented that the report indicated that Boston had the highest percentage of SEND needs, but it also had the biggest increase in population due to migration.  It was queried whether immigration was having an impact on the SEND service?  Members were advised, that it was thought that there had been some mis-coding in the January census in relation to this information, and there was a need to drill down further into the data.


The Chairman thanked Coralie Cross and her daughter Emma for attending the meeting.




That the comments made in relation to this report be noted.

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