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Meetings

Meeting Details

(2019/20) Scrutiny Review Panel 1 (Education)
29 Jan 2020 - 19:00 to 21:00
  • Documents
  • Attendance
  • Declarations of Interests
  • Visitors

Documents

Agenda

Standard Items
1 Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Councillor Mahmood.

2 Urgent Matters
There were no urgent items to consider.

3 Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest.
4 Matters to be Considered in Private
There were no matters to be considered in private.
5 Minutes
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 5th November 2019.
RESOLVED:

The minutes of the meeting held on 19 November 2019 were agreed as a true and accurate record of proceedings.

Gary Redhead, Assistant Director for Schools Planning, Resources and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), and Julie Lewis, Director of Learning Standards and School Partnerships provided a summary of the SEND provision in Ealing and the implications on children and the Council. Gary Redhead explained that there were two main categories of support, lower level SEN support and a high needs SEN Educational Health and Care Plans (EHCP). Officers explained that there were, in Spring 2019, 14.4% of the total pupils in Ealing who were identified as having SEND, and of these 11% received SEN support and 3.4% were on an EHCP. It was also noted that boys were identified as have a SEND at a disproportionately higher rate, with autism being the most common diagnosis for boys. It was also noted that Black and Mixed Heritage pupils were reported with the highest percentage of SEN ethnically. Gary Redhead explained that there had been a steady rate of increase of children identified with SEND, and a significant increase of children being placed on EHCPs.

Officers outlined the programme of support, explaining that the service was looking at the potential for the expansion of specialist provision within mainstream schools. Officers also explained that the service was looking at how to improve integration for children on an EHCP. Officers explained that these approaches were being taken as a means of improving inclusion into mainstream schools.

Officers highlighted that they had successfully completed 85% EHCP referrals within the required 20 weeks in 2019. It was stressed that this was significantly above the national average and that this was a substantial achievement. Officers did note that there was an expected increase in children being referred tp an EHCP in 2019/20, which could reduce performance to more average rates.

Officers explained that there was a national expectation that schools would fund up to £6000 per year for a child’s SEN support. It was explained that any additional support would be provided by the Council, which had a budget of £34.6 million for SEN support. It was also noted that there was Government allocated Higher Needs Block (HNB) funding which was provided for children with more acute needs. It was explained that this totalled £58.9 million in 2019. Officers did note that HNB funding allocations had not increased sufficiently to meet demand, leading to an overspend. It was explained that the Council had funded any overspend, but that this was not sustainable in the long term. Officers did note that this was in common with the Council’s statistical neighbours.

Daniel Bishop, Chair of the Ealing Learning Partnership (ELP) SEN and Inclusion Committee, highlighted that the work they were undertaking was looking at improving the quality and consistency of support for children with SEND through a training offer for teachers and Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs). It was highlighted that training programmes had been developed which could be accessed by schools, and that an action plan had been developed to encourage improved awareness and training. The Chair of the ELP SEN and Inclusion Committee also noted that they had concentrated on sharing good practice across schools and other partners, and developed and utilised a network to promote better inclusion and development.

Dawn Clegg, Autism Outreach Lead and Denise Feasey, Special School Representive of ELP SEND, noted that the increase of children diagnosed on the autistic spectrum was a significant issue nationally. It was explained that there was a jointly commissioned inititive in Ealing to upskill SENCOs, teachers and Additionally Resourced Providers (ARPs) to support children with autism. It was noted that there was work that had been undertaken to improve the quality of life for children with SEND, explaining that there had been some integration in school timetables. It was explained that there had been almost 10 hours of integration in school timetable, including social integration. However, it was explained that there had been lower levels of integration in English and Maths because of pace of the lesson. It was suggested that, as the school curriculum becomes more challenging and demanding for children, that schools will need to consider the issue of what is sustainable integration. Witnesses also noted that the health needs for children needed to be carefully considered in addition to their education needs, which could be achieved through additional training.

Matthew Jeatt and Ruby Sangra of the Ealing Parent and Carer Forum (EPCF) stressed the impact of spending reductions and gaps, particularly in the HNB, on the wellbeing of children with SEND and their families, stressing that any shortfall disproportionately and negatively affected children with SEND and their families. However, the EPCF did stress that they welcomed the engagement with the Council and partners, and that the focus groups and round tables with partner groups had brought positive progress and increased awareness. It was also highlighted that the ELP Peer to Peer support network was particularly effective and had helped to embed good practice across the Council. The EPCF was looking to pilot the idea of appointing a EPCF Link Parent to all schools in the borough, to work in an advisory capacity with schools on SEND matters. Matthew Jeatt explained that this was being undertaken in schools that had expressed interest with a view to determine effectiveness and buy in. it was also noted that the EPCF was looking to implement an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) support group, to help support parents and teachers. Members were also informed by the EPCF representatives of the peer to peer and learning sessions that were undertaken and invited the Panel to attend. The Panel welcomed this and confirmed that a future observation session would be arranged.

The Committee debated the issues arising from the introductory remarks and in response to questions from the Committee:

  • Officers explained that there was a significant likelihood that the high number and rejections of EHCP applications was a result of a recent and significant turnover of SENCOs, explaining that there had been 488 requests for assessment, of which 116 were declined. It was suggested, along with other factors, that new SENCOs may be less experienced at producing EHCP applications, which may have led to more being rejected. Daniel Bishop explained that work was being undertaken with partners to share best practice and improve training may help alleviate this issue.

  • Gary Redhead outlined that 2018/19 was an outlier year of EHCP completion, noting that there had been a historical backlog of previously unprocessed applications. It was noted that the service would be unlikely to maintain performance of issuing 85% of EHCPs within 20 weeks and that the target for 2020/21 was 65%. It was noted that, if a backlog were to develop, then the relation with parents would deteriorate.

  • Daniel Bishop explained that the SEND Support Expectations Document that was being developed by the ELP would look to streamline SEND support across all schools in Ealing and confirm what would be the standard offer, which was not the case at present.

  • Officers explained to Members that all schools were required to statutorily employ at least one SENCO, but that some larger schools also employed a deputy SENCO. Officers noted that all children with SEND were assigned to a SENCO up to the age of 25, who would look at the educational and work outcomes of a child. It was noted that they would be working with children going through transition into adult social care and that SENCOs were responsible for helping a child with SEND into employment or further education.

  • That the ELP was looking to provide an enhanced training offer to Boards of Governors of schools relating to SEND issues. It was noted that there was an offer in place currently, but that take up from Governors was low. The ELP was looking at ways to improve upon this, look at barriers to attendance and improve the profile and reach of the training offer. Members were informed that special schools provided in house training for their own governing bodies.

  • Members were informed that there was a modified OfSTED framework of inspection for special schools and ARPs which had been implemented. It was also explained that the curriculum was significantly modified to tailor for needs, and that training for staff was extensive as a result.

  • Officers noted that Ealing had a good early detection rate for children with SEND. Officers did note that early detection of SEN influenced the cost of support for the child over their life.

  • Officers explained that the level of integration for children could be measured in terms of both social and academic integration, that this level varied between schools, and that it was also dependent on the child’s wellbeing. It was stressed that integration levels were a subjective measure. It was also strongly noted that ARPs were not a means of exclusion but were instead a means of additional support for children to be provided a safe space, but also still participate in mainstream education. It was stressed that the priority of ARPs was to encourage participation in mainstream schooling.

  • Members were informed by officers that there was a push to develop a spread of ARPs in schools throughout the borough evenly, enabling better access. It was explained that initial provision had been piloted in some schools which were willing to participate in the programme. It was explained that having an ARP could impact on a school’s results and more data crunching had to be done to accurately reflect a school’s performance. Officers further highlighted that the take up had mostly been in larger, three to four form entry schools. It was explained that there was more interest being expressed from schools to introduce ARPs.

  • Officers explained that the overspend in funding for SEND provision had been met by the Council.  However, it was noted that this was not uncommon with Ealing’s statistical neighbours, of which 13 other London Authorities also had an overspend of over 10%. It was highlighted that Early Years spend and specialist nursery spend was a particular challenge. However, it was noted that Central Government would be re-evaluating funding allocations for SEND spend and that there was in house provision available. Witnesses noted that budget planning was of concern for schools

  • Witnesses noted that budget planning was of concern for schools Witnesses noted that schools were working with health partners to jointly commission SEND transport effectively.

RESOLVED:

That Members of the Panel meet with members of the Ealing Parent and Carer Forum.

That Members thanked the outgoing Assistant Director for Schools Planning, Resources and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities for their work.

Members noted that the final meeting of the Panel would be relating to Equalities and Inclusion. It was noted that the next panel meeting’s proposed agenda would be quite a wide topic, and asked Members to consider whether they would like to focus on a specific area. Members stressed that they would like to focus on Performance amongst specific groups as a priority.

It was asked that Members submit draft recommendations for the Panel for its final meeting to the Chair and Scrutiny Officer.

RESOLVED:

That the Panel work programme was noted and approved.

That the feedback from the visit to Ark Academy was noted and approved.

8 Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Thursday 2nd April 2020.
It was noted that the next meeting would be held on 2 April 2020.

The meeting of the panel concluded at 8:36pm

Attendance

Name
No other member attendance information has been recorded for the meeting.
NameReason for Sending ApologySubstituted By
Councillor Tariq Mahmood  
NameReason for AbsenceSubstituted By
Kate Roskell  

Declarations of Interests

Member NameItem Ref.DetailsNature of DeclarationAction
No declarations of interest have been entered for this meeting.

Visitors

Visitor Information is not yet available for this meeting