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Agenda item

Public Questions and Petitions

To receive any questions or petitions from members of the public



Members of the public raised questions as follows:-




Tony Tigwell




We have recently attended our son’s Education, Health and Care Plan review.  It was an extremely negative experience.  How does the Council quality assure these reviews?




Tim Armstrong (Head of Special Educational Needs) stated that there were approximately 3,400 young people in the City with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) and that, under the Code of Practice, powers in terms of the responsibility to arrange and hold such reviews was delegated to schools and other education providers.  The Council was aware that there was a need for improved training with regard to quality assurance linked to such reviews, and officers were working on this at the moment, particularly looking at the provision of training programmes in schools.  The Authority was also mindful that certain schools and education providers were better at providing high quality reviews than others.  It had been identified that training for Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) was needed, together with much tighter monitoring by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Statutory Assessment and Review Service (SENDSARS) in order to try and ensure that annual reviews were of the highest quality.  In addition, with effect from January 2020, ten reviews were being audited on an individual basis each month, with representatives from Education, Health and Care involved in such audits.  It was acknowledged that not listening to a young person’s voice during such reviews was not acceptable.




Jane Edwards




(a)      In the statement of action, dated April 2019, Section 7.2.2, it was stated that an offer that outlines a variety of options for post-16 year olds giving outcome-led choices 5 days a week by June 2020.  No one at our son’s review was aware of this.  Can you update us please.




(b)      Much is promised in the Inclusion Strategy.  We need rapid change as the Council is failing families now.  What assurances can you give to those families on the ‘burning bridge’ (a term used by a Council consultant)?




Tim Armstrong (Head of Special Educational Needs) stated that the Authority was working to develop the offer in terms of options for post-16 year olds, although progress on this was not as good as was hoped.  Regardless of this, there was still a range of services currently on offer.  The Authority was aware that currently, there were not clear enough pathways.  There were clear plans to address the issue regarding the pathways as part of the work to be undertaken on the Strategy.  It was accepted that there could be a perception that the Authority was making an offer that was not possible to deliver, with similar concerns being expressed by a number of families, as well as concerns being raised at meetings of the Inclusion Improvement Board. Delivery was a major issue for the Authority, and there was a need for adjustments in its budget allocation in order to meet demand.




In response to queries raised by Members of the Committee, it was reported that it was the Council’s responsibility to ensure that all EHCP reviews were undertaken and monitored, with the responsibility for the delivery of such reviews being delegated to schools and other education providers under the Code of Practice.  Whilst schools and other education providers led on the reviews, the Council had an oversight.  If parents were not happy with any element of the reviews, they had a right of appeal.  The parents would also receive a questionnaire for them to complete in order to provide feedback on their reviews.  The Annual Review meeting was only one part of the process, and it was important to ensure that the young person’s needs were being met and, as part of the ongoing work to address this, the need for training for schools had been identified. 




Julie Grafron




Can we start improvements to the service with clear, honest communications.  I have recently received a letter from the SENDSARS (which was actually addressed to our daughter, and not us), and which was written in a very challenging and combative manner.  We therefore ask that managers change the quality and tone of the information contained in letters sent to parents.




Tim Armstrong stated that it was accepted that the contents of such letters needed addressing, but stressed that some of the wording in them was required by law.  Work would continue at looking at how the content, and manner in how such letters were written, could be improved. 




RESOLVED: That the Committee requests that the Head of Special Educational Needs meets with the parents who had raised the questions to discuss their respective concerns.