An update on progress - and an opportunity to influence the next phase


SEND Futures Richmond is the name for the ongoing work to transform the way in which support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is provided in Richmond. It is led collectively by the Council, Achieving for Children (AfC), the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), schools and health providers.

A Richmond SEND Partnership Board has formed chaired by Richmond Council's Director of Children's Services and the Vice-Chair is Richmond CCG's Managing Director. The board has support from parent representatives, voluntary sector representatives, Achieving for Children, health providers, headteachers from special, primary and secondary schools, adult services, public health and elected members.

Read more about Richmond SEND Partnership Board

The impact of the consultation held in summer 2019 can be read in the latest SEND Futures Plan.

In November and December last year, over 100 people completed our survey on the future of SEND services in Richmond. Since then, we’ve used your views to shape plans for transforming SEND services in Richmond.

This page tells you how we - the Council, AfC, CCG, schools and health providers - have acted on your views and feedback.

We are also asking for your help in shaping the next phase, which you can do here:

Share your views (opens a new page)


We asked for your views on:

Increasing the number of local specialist school places in special schools and mainstream schools

Summary of views:

Proposals to establish more local specialist places were welcomed. A number of respondents remarked that well-funded and sufficient therapy provision is crucial to meet need and gain parents’ confidence in the local offer. An inclusive ethos is needed across the Borough so that all schools are contributing to supporting local children and young people with special educational needs.

What we’ve done since the survey:

The consultation resulted in a change to the funding and commissioning of ‘specialist resource provisions (SRP)’ so that there is a clear expectation of schools with a SRP to deliver outreach support for pupils in neighbouring schools.

Our joint applications with Richmond and Kingston Councils to the Department of Education to establish and run two new special schools have been approved. One school will provide 90 places for children and young people with autistic spectrum disorders, and will be situated in Kingston. The other school will provide 90 places for children and young people with social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH), and will be situated in Richmond. This means that there will be an additional 244 specialist places in Richmond schools by 2020 (plus an additional 250 places in Kingston, of which 154 will be ready for 2020).

 You can see a summary of the planned (or achieved) increases in specialist SEND places in Richmond here: 

Planned Specialist School Places (opens a pdf)

 



 We asked for your views on:

Giving schools more support and resources to provide services for children before they reach the stage where they need an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

Summary of views:

The majority of respondents agreed with these proposals.  The need for the proposed improvements to be properly funded was highlighted, as was the importance of also making these services available to nurseries. Comments also included the importance of focusing limited resources on interventions with an evidence base of improved outcomes, and of building on the expertise and resources within the local community and voluntary sector.

What we’ve done since the survey:

The transfer of money from the main schools and early years budgets to high needs services has enabled more support to be available to all education providers to help them to be more inclusive to children with SEND. We have done this by:

  • Introducing a ‘one stop shop’ for schools to access information, advice and guidance, including signposting to specialist support services.
  • Establishing an Educational Inclusion Support service, which provides specialist outreach support to secondary schools.
  • Opening up social, emotional and mental health network meetings to all primary and secondary schools, free of charge, to enable better sharing of best practice.   
  • Providing clearer guidance to schools on the different types of evidence-based support they should provide to children, prior to an application for an EHCP assessment. This has been supported by holding specialist inclusion and intervention training for mainstream schools.
  • Setting up an Early Intervention Panel, which brings together experts from social care, education and health services to look at ways to meet children and young people’s needs within their existing education setting.   

 

 

We asked for your views on:

Creating improved pathways and support for young people with SEND post-16

 Summary of views:

There was broad agreement that a better post-16 offer is needed. Parents/carers said that support during transitions is crucial, including better joined up working between children and adults’ services.  Young people told us that their school should teach them more practical skills that will be useful in their adult lives.

What we’ve done since the survey:

The Council’s ‘overview and scrutiny’ committee has carried out a review of transitions from childhood to adulthood for those with special educational needs and disabilities. The findings of the review can be found here:

Transition from Childhood to Adulthood for those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (opens a pdf)

The Council and AfC will be working together to implement the findings of the review in the coming months.

 

We asked for your views on:

Moving money from mainstream schools’ and nurseries’ budgets to fund support for children with special educational needs in financial year 2019/20.  

Summary of views:

The survey conducted with schools via Schools Forum found that 48% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with moving up to 0.5% of mainstream school’s funding to specifically fund special educational needs (45% disagreed or strongly disagreed). Only 24% agreed or strongly agreed with moving more than 0.5%.

In the public consultation, 43% agreed or strongly agreed with the principle of moving money away from mainstream schools to help fund special educational needs, whilst 41% disagreed or strongly disagreed.  

Concerns were raised about the negative impact moving money away from mainstream school budgets would have on teaching and learning in all mainstream schools and the fact that this is not a long term solution.  The Council was encouraged instead to lobby central government for additional funding.

The majority of nurseries who responded to a separate survey said that if the hourly rate was maintained at the same level as 2018/19, this would have a “medium” impact.  Others said it would have a low impact if it was applied consistently to all providers.

What we’ve done since the survey:

Despite being given permission by the government to move up to £1.8 million away from mainstream schools’ budgets to fund support for children with SEND in 2019/20, the Council has decided to move £0.6m only.  This is only £0.3 million more than was originally agreed with schools, and represents a total of 0.5% of the Schools Block allocation.

51 other councils across the country made similar requests to government to transfer more than 0.5% of schools’ budgets to pay for SEND services.

For nursery providers, the Council decided to pass 100% of the funding it receives from central government for 2 year olds directly to providers.  This means the hourly rate for 2 year olds is the same in 2019/20 as it was in 2018/9 (£5.92).

For 3 and 4 year olds, rather than increase the hourly rate for providers from £5.12 per hour to £5.29 per hour, the Schools Forum instead agreed to increase the hourly rate to £5.17 per hour. This difference of £0.12 per hour meant that the amount allocated specifically for special educational needs and disabilities amongst 0 to 5 year olds could be increased by £280,000. This money will be given to providers who support children with SEND under the age of five, in the form of specialist nursery places and support packages.

The Council has intensified its lobbying of Government through initiatives such as the campaign to encourage residents to directly contact the Secretary of State using a portal on the Council website. You can find details of the Council’s lobbying activity here:

Demand Action For SEND Funding

In December 2018, the Department for Education announced that all councils will receive additional funding for SEND services in 2018/9 and 2019/20.  In Richmond’s case this additional funding was £0.5 million in each of these two years. Although this is nowhere near enough, it is perhaps a sign that the parents’ and councils’ combined lobbying activity is having an impact.      

 


We asked for your views on:

Investing more in the annual review process of Education, Health and Care Plans  

Summary of views:

There was broad support for investing in the annual review process, on the basis that it would lead to an improvement in quality. There was strong feedback that the needs of children and young people must be the starting point for annual reviews, rather than cost savings.

What we’ve done since the survey:

  • We are developing a new process for overseeing the quality of all EHCPs.
  • A specialist officer has been recruited to lead on a programme of annual reviews, based within AfC. Their initial priority has been independent school placements and EHCPs at Year 5, Year 9 and in post-16. 
  • In addition, health services have strengthened oversight of their input into EHCPs. This is an important development as feedback from parents, schools and other stakeholders has been that support from different parts of the health services hasn’t always been effectively coordinated.

 


 

We asked for your views on:

Reducing funding for ‘central services’ (mainly services provided by Achieving for Children, or on behalf of AfC, such as speech and language therapy, educational psychology, and the school admissions team)

Summary of views:

Whilst a number of respondents agreed that efficiencies should be made where possible, there was scepticism about whether this could be achieved without an unacceptable and counterproductive compromise of quality, and in some cases a breach of legal duty.  

What we’ve done since the survey:

The Council has listened to the feedback and opted to set the overall budget for ‘central services’ at least at the same level for 2019-20 as for 2018-19.

 


We asked for your views on:

Asking special schools and mainstream schools which provide specialist placements for children with SEND to identify operational efficiencies so that commissioning costs can be reduced

Summary of views:

A number of respondents commented that in the current financial context, reduction in funding for special schools and specialist resource provision could not be absorbed and would impact negatively on teaching and learning, undermining work to develop a quality local offer.

What we’ve done since the survey:

We have decided not to pursue this option at this time.    



 

We asked for your views on:

Taking a more commercial approach to commissioning placements from the independent and non-maintained school sector in order to maximise value for money.

Summary of views:

The majority of respondents agreed with proposals to improve commissioning

What we’ve done since the survey:

We’re reviewing how and when we commission placements, to make sure that our systems are as efficient and effective as they can be.  This includes making sure that we monitor contracts more effectively so that providers are more consistently held to account to deliver what was agreed.  We are investing in our commissioning team and systems to make sure that contract negotiation is done by staff who are skilled in this area. We are also looking at how we could commission differently, particularly where we have lots of children using the same services or going to the same school.  Through the investment in our IT system we hope to be able to collate more information about how well schools are performing in achieving good outcomes for pupils relative to the amount they are charging and also be able to pick up trends that could inform better placement planning and commissioning.

 

Other feedback:

 Summary of views:

A new approach to parental engagement and listening to the voice of children and young people is required.  Views need to be collected more widely than in the past, and it must include all those with special educational needs and disabilities, across all types of need, severity and age.  

What we’ve done since the survey:​

  • We are supporting the national charity Contact, working on behalf of the Department for Education, to set up a new Parent Carer Forum.
  • We have established a new Parent Panel which met for the first time on 12th March.   
  • Making greater use of digital communication tools to enable parents to share their views remotely.
  • We have agreed five initiatives to develop and improve our approach to co-production over the next 12 months.  

 

These are:

  • Therapies model
  • Annual Review feedback form
  • New Free School proposition
  • 16-25 local provision
  • ASD strategy

 

  • We are developing our events programme, including an event aiming to support parents and carers with the transition process at primary and secondary school and into Post 16 provision; and regular coffee mornings with the SEN team.
  • We are developing a Young People’s Group to provide direct feedback and input from children and young people.
  • We are developing mechanisms to enable us to hear from children, young people, parents and carers about the impact of their SEN provision, their EHCP and whether it is making a positive difference, for example feedback will be captured after all new assessments have been completed and through the annual review process. This will be developed to hear the views of Providers to assess the impact of EHCPs and more widely to hear the voices of parents and carers whose children and young people are at SEN support.