Special Educational Needs _SEN_

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					Children Services          Date:        Title of Report
Overview and Scrutiny      January
Committee                  2006
Classification                          Progress on the Implementation of
                                        the SEN Inclusion Strategy and
                                        Action Plan
GENERAL RELEASE

Wards involved           All

Policy context           The City of Westminster should have in place a
                         policy, strategy and action plan which supports the
                         inclusion of children with special educational needs

                         Education Guarantee.
Financial Summary        This report has no immediate financial implications.
                         However, aspects of the SEN Action Plan will incur
                         costs with particular reference to the changing role of
                         Westminster special schools and the development of
                         SEN resourced provision in Westminster. Costs will
                         be outlined in detail as specific proposals are
                         developed. As SEN provision is developed within
                         Westminster it is envisaged that costs would reduce
                         on out of borough and independent placements.
Report Author            June Simson, Head of Special Educational and
                         Additional Needs.


1. Summary of this report

1.1. The report informs Overview and Scrutiny Committee on the progress
     made so far on implementing the SEN Inclusion Strategy and Action
     Plan.


2. Recommendations

2.1. That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee note the report.


3. Background information

3.1. The City Council has a number of key activities and responsibilities to
     monitor, support, challenge and intervene to ensure that schools and
     other educational settings continue to raise standards for children and
     young people.

3.2. In December 2004 a report was considered by the Overview and
     Scrutiny Committee. The report outlined the development of a SEN
     Inclusion Strategy, preparation of an action plan and the consultation
     process. The SEN Inclusion Strategy was finalised and approved by the
     Cabinet Member in May 2005. The Action Plan attached at Appendix A
     is being implemented. Attached at Appendix B is a glossary of terms
     used in the report.

3.3. The City Council has also reviewed its policy for Special Educational
     Needs (SEN) Transport following the introduction of the SEN Inclusion
     Strategy and Guidance from the DfES on the Home to School Special
     Travel Arrangements 2004. In addition to the policy being reviewed and
     revised, home to school travel options have been increased to provide
     for more cost effective travel and value for money.


4. Summary of Action Plan

4.1. The SEN Action Plan has been formulated to promote the inclusion of
     pupils with special educational needs. The key areas for action consist of
     a number of overlapping activities, each with a specific focus and
     identified lead officers. Within each activity strand, outcomes have been
     identified for the year. The key activities have been summarised with the
     following headings that are likely to have the most impact on both
     inclusion and attainment.

      Building local capacity
      Planning and Resources
      Consultation and Communication


5. Progress implementing the SEN Action Plan

5.1. Building Capacity

5.1.1. The Early Years Inclusion Team has been expanded to include 3 FTE
       advisory teachers and 0.5 educational psychologist with a focus on promoting
       inclusion and transition. Early Years settings have been issued with Early
       Years Action and Early Years Action plus guidance. This has been well
       received and has led to greater clarity in the thresholds and expectations as
       to what should be provided for children with special educational needs before
       requesting a statutory assessment and statement. Early years settings have
       been provided with a training programme to assist them in developing
       inclusive practices which includes training in providing support in transition
       from nursery to mainstream schools. This has resulted in an increasing
       number of children with statements being placed in mainstream schools
       successfully.

5.1.2. There is currently a small central team, the SEN Specialist Advisory
       and Teaching Team which has been expanded with the use of external
       funding to support mainstream and special schools to include children
       with the following needs.
          Hearing Impairment
          Visual Impairment
          Autistic Spectrum Disorder [ASD]
          Speech, Language and Communication Difficulties [SLCN]

       This small but effective team provides valued support to Westminster
       Schools. The support of this team has enabled mainstream schools to
       include children with a range of needs which has reduced the need for
       some pupils to be placed in outborough maintained schools or
       independent schools. This contributes to a reduction in SEN
       Expenditure and associated transport costs.

5.1.3. External resources have been identified to provide a small
       enhancement to the team for the current financial year. As a result, the
       two full time teaching posts for ASD and SLCN, are being supported by
       external funding streams. Sources of funding will continue to be
       explored so that this support, which is highly valued by schools and the
       Local Authority can continue. The level and range of specialist support
       for particular categories of need will be kept under review to meet
       changing trends.

5.1.4. The DfES requires special schools to develop support for mainstream
       schools. Outreach support from Westminster Special Schools is
       developing slowly and this will continue as a key element in developing
       the changing role of Westminster Special Schools.

5.1.5. Behaviour audits have been carried out in secondary schools and a
       wide range of training opportunities have been made available to
       teaching and support staff as a result. Excellent evaluations have
       been received from schools. There has also been a wide range of
       targeted support for SENCOs including a SENCO Forum

5.1.6. Schools have been consulted on their training needs and a training
       programme has been devised to meet these needs. The training programme
       is ongoing and will evolve to meet the needs of schools. This is a key
       element in the development of inclusive schools.


5.2. Planning and Resources

5.2.1. In April 2004, following an agreed period of consultation, the existing
       formula allocations for special educational needs (SEN) and additional
       educational needs (AEN) were merged. Funding was also transferred
       into the formula for children with high incidence and predictable needs
       associated with relatively low costs statements agreed at a threshold
       value below £5,000. £258,868 of current resources was allocated
       through this formula. In April 2005 the threshold level was raised to
       £7000 and in April 2006 this level will be raised again by inflation.
       These resources have been distributed via new formula indicators
       using:
        Prior attainment (using SATs results)
        Fluency in English Language
        Free school meal entitlement; and
          Unplanned pupil mobility

       The fundamental change was to move the emphasis from funding
       individual pupils to whole school funding for pupils with special
       educational needs. This has enabled schools to have more flexibility in
       making provision for children with SEN. In addition this has assisted
       schools with staffing as they can now plan their staffing knowing that
       this aspect of SEN funding will not change during the financial year.

5.2.2. The majority of pupils with statements of SEN will continue to attend
       mainstream schools, in line with current trends. However, it is
       recognised that some children may require additionally resourced
       specialist provision within a mainstream setting if they are to make
       progress as an alternative to a special school placement.

5.2.3. Westminster currently maintains two additionally resourced schools.
       One is Churchill Gardens, which has 30 places (to be expanded to 40
       places from April 2006) for pupils with speech, language and
       communication needs. The additional places will reduce SEN
       expenditure by around £90,000 per year when all the places are filled
       as funding is allocated via a different route.

5.2.4. In April 2005 Edward Wilson School was designated as an additionally
       resourced provision for 9 pupils with visual impairment. For 2005 this
       reduced SEN expenditure by £90K and by £200K when the 9 places
       are full. This has significantly reduced the need for out borough
       placements for this group of children.

5.2.5. Plans are being prepared to develop additionally resourced provision at
       Millbank School for 10 children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. The
       date of establishing this provision will depend on the availability of
       capital funding. It is anticipated that the establishment of this provision
       will lead to a saving in SEN expenditure of between £150K and £300K
       by reducing the need for out-borough placements.

5.2.6. The principle that children with SEN should be educated in a
       mainstream school has been a longstanding aim since the 1981
       Education Act. There has been a gradual process of change, giving
       parents a greater voice in deciding the right educational provision to
       meet their child’s needs.

5.2.7. Over recent years the process of change has accelerated, and
       legislation has given children with SEN a right to an education in
       mainstream settings. The SEN and Disability Act (2001) requires
       Councils to ensure that children with a statement of SEN are educated
       in a mainstream school unless that is incompatible with the wishes of
       the parent, or the provision of efficient education for other children in
       the school.

5.2.8. Nationally, the number of children attending special schools has
       declined a little although this has not resulted in extensive closure of
       special schools. However, there is evidence that the balance of needs
       within the special school population has changed. There are a number
       of reasons for this, including:

       The increased inclusion into mainstream schools of children with
        less complex needs;
       An increased number of children being identified with some special
        educational needs, particularly autistic spectrum disorders (ASD);
       Improvements in medical techniques and diagnoses which have
        resulted in increased survival of children who may need very
        specialist teaching.

5.2.9. Some local authorities with relatively large numbers of children in
       special schools have reduced provision or, in some cases, rationalised
       existing special schools and there has been a trend towards
       statemented children with more moderate learning needs having
       provision made for them within mainstream schools.

5.2.10.The City Council has two special schools; College Park and The
       Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee School (QEII). Both schools currently offer
       all-age provision for children with statements of SEN. College Park
       school is a designated 80 place special schools for pupils with
       moderate learning difficulties, and QEII is a designated 70 place
       special school for pupils with severe, profound and multiple learning
       difficulties.

5.2.11.In line with national developments, Westminster special schools have
       been reviewed and a feasibility study undertaken. The development of
       the two Westminster special schools is being considered in the context
       of the Buildings Schools for the Future Programme. It is likely that the
       designation of Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee School will remain
       unchanged but the facilities at the school will be improved to bring the
       school up to the required standard e.g. installation of a hydrotherapy
       pool.

5.2.12.The designation of College Park is likely to be changed to a school
       catering for pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disability (ASD). Discussions
       are still at an early stage with the school and Governors. It has been
       reported primarily that the numbers of children diagnosed with ASD
       continues to increase and therefore it is essential that appropriate
       provision is developed within Westminster to reduce the number of out-
       borough placements, placements within the independent sector and
       associated transport costs. The proposal when implemented will
       provide parents with a local school placement and will reduce
       significantly the cost of independent placements.
5.2.13.The LEA is required to have in place arrangements to monitor the use
       of resources for children with special educational needs and to support
       the inclusion and attainment of all groups of learners. ‘The
       management of SEN expenditure’ (DfES, 2004) provides detailed
       guidance on the robust procedures necessary to achieve this.

5.2.14.For schools in Westminster, a monitoring framework has been
       developed based upon school self evaluation. This will enable schools
       to review their practise and outcomes regarding inclusion and to
       monitor progress and the use of resources on an ongoing basis. In
       order to support this work, the City Council will provide schools with an
       enhanced annual data profile to measure the progress of pupils with
       SEN.

5.2.15.Furthermore, Westminster will enhance monitoring arrangements for
       pupils placed in out-borough and independent special school provision,
       based on attainment and outcomes in terms of progression.

5.2.16.Resources for children with severe and complex special educational
       needs are allocated by a SEN Panel consisting of a Headteacher
       representative and officers who consider the needs of the child and the
       resources needed to make appropriate provision. This panel also
       consider requests for increased levels of support following statutory
       annual reviews.


5.3. Consultation and Communication

5.3.1. Partnership with parents is the cornerstone of effective education.
       Parents and carers play a key role in their child’s learning and
       development. Therefore there is the need to involve parents and
       carers in their child’s education and to ensure that account is taken of
       the parental view in any policy, planning or service development.

5.3.2. Parents were consulted as part of the development of the SEN
       Inclusion Strategy. A parent representative sat on the SEN Strategy
       Steering Group. Parents were invited to the Overview and Scrutiny
       Committee in December 2004 when the Strategy was last discussed.
       Parents were consulted by a questionnaire and a meeting when the
       revised SEN Travel policy was being developed. Parents have
       requested regular meetings and termly meetings have been agreed to
       provide a forum where transport issues can be discussed. Pupils at the
       two Westminster special schools were also consulted. Parents and
       pupils were consulted as part of the review of Westminster special
       schools.
6. Financial Implications
6.1. Although there are no immediate implications arising directly from this
     report, the development of SEN provision in Westminster will reduce the
     need and cost of out borough placements and associated transport
     costs.


7. Legal implications
7.1. There are unlikely to be any legal implications arising directly from this
     report. However, the implementation of the SEN Action Plan will
     continue to safeguard the statutory entitlement conferred by statements
     of special educational needs and will comply with any legal imperatives
     arising from tribunal decisions


8. Staffing Implications
8.1. There are no immediate staffing implications arising directly from this
     report. However, staffing implications may arise from the changes to
     special schools and the development of SEN resourced provision in
     mainstream schools. This will be covered in more detail in future papers
     as proposals are developed.


9. Outstanding Issues
9.1. The report outlines progress so far on the implementation of the SEN
     Action Plan: The implementation of the action will be on going over the
     next few years and issues may arise during the course of the
     implementation.


10.    Performance Plan Implications
10.1. Successful implementation of the SEN Action plan should improve
      performance on a number of key indicators. In particular, it should lead
      to improved levels of attainment, greater inclusion of children with SEN
      in mainstream schools and a reduction in the number of pupils excluded
      with special educational needs.


11.    Ward Members Comments

11.1. Applicable to all wards
12.    Consultations
12.1. The development and implementations of the SEN Action Plan has
      included and will continue to include the different stakeholders as
      different activities and proposals are progressed.


13.    Crime and Disorder Act
13.1. The implementation of this Action plan will support the inclusion of pupils
      in schools and will contribute to preventing crime and disorder,
      particularly form pupils with behaviour, social and emotional difficulties.


14.    HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUES
There are no direct Health and Safety issues arising from this report


15.    Co-operation with Health Authorities
15.1. The Primary Care Trust has been consulted and is involved with the
      development and implementation of the Action plan


16.    Human Rights Act 1998
16.1. The SEN Action Plan supports the Human Rights Act in regards to
      providing inclusive education opportunities for pupils.


17.    Conclusion
17.1. The implementation of the SEN Action Plan is in line with the City
      Council’s policy to promote inclusion and with the Government’s National
      Strategy for SEN. In addition the Action Plan will ensure that the City
      Council discharges its duties in relation to special educational needs in
      the most cost effective way which provided value for money

17.2. The outcome of a recent visit by a DfES SEN advisor to assess the
      implementation of the National SEN Strategy concluded that during the
      last eighteen months, the Local Authority has made very significant and
      effective progress in the implementation of the National Strategy
      ‘Removing Barriers to Achievement’. The implication of this is that there
      is effective implementation of Westminster’s SEN Inclusion Strategy.

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUERIES ABOUT THIS REPORT OR WISH TO
INSPECT ANY OF THE BACKGROUND PAPERS PLEASE CONTACT
JUNE SIMSON:
TEL: 020 7641 5356;
EMAIL ADDRESS JSIMSON@WESTMINSTER.GOV.UK
FAX NUMBER 0207641 7609


Background Papers
The document(s) used or referred to in compiling this report were: -

Removing Barriers to Achievement: The Government’s Strategy for SEN,
DfES 2004
Report of the Special Schools’ Working Group, DfES 2003
Audit Commission Policy Focus – Statutory Assessments and Statements of
SEN: In need of review, Audit Commission 2002.
Inspection of the City of Westminster LEA by OfSTED, July 2002
The Distribution of Resources to Support Inclusion, DfES 2001
SEN and Disability Act 2001
SEN Code of Practice, DfES 2001
Report to Overview and Scrutiny Committee – December 2004