What this means for you
- If your child is in their final year of a primary special school at the moment, we’re currently planning all moves to secondary. Children already in primary are prioritised for a secondary special school place unless parents want to move them back to mainstream. If you haven’t provided your preference of school through your last annual review, a letter will be coming out to you to ask for it.
- If your child is currently in a mainstream school and you requested specialist provision to be considered late in the summer term or over the holidays, your request is being considered in September and we will be in touch with the outcome.
- If you have been thinking about requesting specialist placement for your child, or you’ve requested a specialist placement since the end of the summer holidays, your request will be considered once our new panels start again in November. As all schools are currently full, waiting for the new panels in November does not affect the timeframes in which your child could move school. You will also benefit from the changes we’re making to panels (described below) which will give you much more certainty on next steps for your child than our previous panels have been able to give.
- If you are currently on the Special Provision Referral List, professionals representing education, health and social care are meeting regularly to discuss a realistic pathway plan that addresses what provision your child or young person is suited for, and considering timeframes for when a place may be available at a relevant setting. The plans will be realistic about whether a suitable placement exists, and if it doesn't, will outline an alternative plan, so that there is always a positive way forward. Once we have a proposal for next steps, you will be contacted directly to discuss. This process is taking place between now and the end of October.
Why is it happening?
It is really important we deliver a fair, more transparent process, in line with SEN legislation and local guidance, so we can support children into the right pathways. Our current panels – which were designed at a time when special schools were not full, are not providing the certainty about next steps and leave families and schools waiting for too long for certainty over a school place.
What does it involve?
We are looking at all the data available to us to see how we can be smarter about our internal working processes.
Whilst we do this, provision panels in their existing format, have been paused. During this time, we are still making decisions on provision and meeting our statutory duties, but this will not be through a panel.
We are sure you will appreciate the urgent nature of this work, our commitment to supporting these children and families, and ensuring we get this right for children and families in the future by taking this time.
We hope this update provides some reassurance. We will update you in due course about how decisions will be made on placement from November.