To consider a report from the Interim Executive Director – People (copy enclosed).
Members had before them a paper by the Interim Executive Director – People the purpose of which was to update the Board on the progress since the local area SEND inspection in March 2019.
The Assistant Director - Education and Skills explained to members the significant steps towards improvement already put in place by the Written Statement of Action (WSoA) which was published in August 2019 by Cumbria County Council and its partners.
Members were reminded of the key areas of concern, these were as follows:-
The Assistant Director – Education and Skills then discussed the points of progress made since the inspection. These were as follows:-
It was AGREED that a link to SEND improvement page of the local offer and the SEND e-bulletin be circulated to members of the board.
It was explained to members that the partners and the Council were aware that regaining the trust and confidence of the parent/carer community would be difficult and should not be underestimated.
Members enquired into Ofsted’s response to the WSoA and discussed some of the feedback from the response. Ofsted had noted the content but stated that the timescales were not satisfactory as they were not ambitious enough, and that the timescales for implementing some of the actions in the plan will need to be revised. It was expected that a further update would arise from the first quarterly monitoring visit due to take place on 3 October 2019. As a result of the WSoA there will be a requirement to submit progress updates against each priority area of action.
Members raised concerns over a perceived lack of Alternative Provision in the east of the county and asked officers how this and Resourced Provision would fit into the plan to improve outcomes. The Assistant Director – Education and Skills stated Alternative Provision plans have had cabinet approval and that it seems likely that there will be discussions regarding Alternative Provision in the east in the near future. The Interim Executive Director – People spoke regarding the responsibilities of schools to recognise need from Young People’s EHCP’s and clarified what he stated was the Local Authorities responsibility to hold those schools to account.
Members discussed concerns regarding equitable service delivery and highlighted one particular area of the report which suggested that consistent ante natal visits carried out by the Healthy Child programme would take until January 2020 to implement. Officers told members that assurance would be sought from the relevant Working Group and it was AGREED that Scrutiny would receive a written update on the progress of improvements in health service inequalities before the next board.
Members requested an on-going report to Scrutiny and it was AGREED that a timeline for updating members be discussed with the Strategic Policy and Scrutiny Advisor.
The Assistant Director – Education and Skills was asked if there was any new challenges facing SEND this academic year and members were told that over recent years there has seen a 68% rise in EHCP’s against the backdrop of falling budgets and reduced staff as a result of this the major challenges facing the service is management of expectation.
It was RESOLVED that,
1) Members note the contents of the report
2) Members seek further assurances that timescales are reflecting ambition, and in specific that the timescales for the Ante-Natal visits and the Healthy Child Programme are reviewed by Working Group 2: Commissioning and access to provision
3) The Chair of Scrutiny makes contact with the CEO of People First who is chairing Working Group 3: Engagement and co-production, to discuss how the Board can support the work of this group and access the views of families and users directly.