Agenda item

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Improvement Update

To consider a report by the Independent Chair, Cumbria SEND Improvement Board (copy enclosed).



The Board received a report from the Independent Chair, Cumbria SEND Improvement Board. 


Members were informed delivery was underway against all the priority areas resulting from the SEND inspection in 2019.  It was explained the first formal monitoring visit from the DfE and NHS England had taken place on 6 February 2020 and had provided a barometer of progress.  The Board was informed no concerns had been raised at the meeting as there was evidence that remedial works were in place.  Officers acknowledged the importance of outcomes and impacts highlighting the challenges, particularly with regard to capacity.  It was agreed that further information on capacity challenges and risks associated with them would be included as part of a future report to the Board.


The Board noted that a dedicated SEND Project Manager would take up Post on 20 February on a two year secondment from the North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group and would report to the Senior Manager Partnerships and People Improvement.  It was anticipated this role would provide enhanced co-ordination of this complex and challenging programme of improvement activity.


Members noted the key activity over the last quarter had related to engagement with parents and carers with significant numbers responding to the SEND survey; and a series of engagement and listening taking place across the county during January 2020.  It was explained that the indicative survey findings suggested regaining trust of parents and carers remained a major area of priority.


The Chief Executive Officer from Healthwatch Cumbria gave a positive update on the engagement and co?production work which was being undertaken highlighting the encouraging number of responses received to a recent survey from children, parents and carers. 


The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services drew attention to a positive engagement event which she had recently attended.  Members were informed there was a positive view on what people wanted to see in the future but highlighted the concerns raised by parents and carers regarding the transition from children to adults. 


The Board discussed Area 2 of Working Group 3 – Co?Production and Engagement which was to establish and develop ways to ensure the close involvement of children, young people and their families in the co?production of the services, resources and support that they needed.  A concern was raised regarding the lack of reference to engagement in Workington and the Allerdale area.  Officers assured the Board engagement would take place in this area highlighting to members that large demographic consultations would be undertaken.


During the course of discussion concerns were raised regarding the role of schools and the difficulties encountered by their leadership.  In particular, concerns had been raised regarding the additional costs incurred for the provision of special needs.  Members felt it was important to recognise the context in which schools were working and felt this should be borne in mind. 


A brief discussion took place regarding funding and the Board requested further information including where the proposed funding would come from, any gaps and whether the resources would be adequate.


The Board was informed that key risks relating to capacity to maintain the pace of delivery required within the timescales as well as the regaining of trust and faith of parents and carers remained.  It was highlighted that mitigating actions were in place but the risks remained important to retain oversight of.


Members welcomed the update and asked that the Board receive the full report in due course.  The importance of the need to see real improvements in services and to respond to the concerns of parents and carers was emphasised. 


The Board asked that the Independent Chair of the Cumbria SEND Improvement Board attend their next meeting in April 2020. 


RESOLVED,   that


                          (1)          the updates from the working groups be noted;


                          (2)          the continuing analysis underway of the SEND parent/carer, professional and young people’s surveys be noted.


Supporting documents: