Published Wednesday 2 November 2022
Summary of article:
- All children and young people who are on the special school referral list now have a proposal for their next steps identified - we aim to contact all families by the end of November.
- We are running a trial of a new panel to help us understand the best ways of working. There will be 4 panels during November and December. This will inform a final panel format that we will use from 2023.
- If you are waiting for a panel to consider your request for a change of type of placement, this will take place in one of 4 panels before Christmas and we will contact you once a decision is made to explain next steps.
We have completed the first part of our review of the SEND Provision Panel. We have appreciated your patience during this time.
During September and October, we:
- reviewed the way we make decisions about specialist placement
- planned pathways for all children and young people on our special schools referral list.
To get this vital work done, we paused provision panels, but made sure that families were still getting their urgent decisions about placement.
We did this because we’d become concerned at the length of time some families have been waiting for a confirmed start date in a special school. We understand how this can affect families and schools living with uncertainty around timescales for a new school place to be available.
The review is about our commitment to finding pathways that support children to achieve their best possible outcomes.
Update on the review of the ‘referral list’
Whilst the panels were paused, we identified next steps for those who have been awaiting confirmation of a start date in a special school.
All children and young people now have a proposal for next steps identified, including specialist placements, specialist resource provisions, alternative provision, further education settings and extra support in mainstream.
This involved careful analysis of data, and regular meetings with leaders of specialist provision across Hertfordshire, colleagues in the school planning department, and representatives from support services. This helped us to see where suitable placements exist, and to look at alternative plans where needed.
If you are waiting for news about your child's pathway
We are currently contacting families with their identified options, and aim to have contacted everybody by the end of November.
There are a large number of families to contact and we appreciate your patience whilst we do this. All of the specialist pathways identified for children and young people are for placements starting in 2023 or 2024. If you have not been contacted by the end of November you can make contact with our Provision team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update on the review of the SEND Provision Panel process
It is really important we deliver a fair, transparent process, in line with SEN law and have local guidance, so we can support children onto the right pathways. Our panels previously did not always give enough certainty about next steps and sometimes left families and schools waiting too long for an outcome.
As there is no legal requirement for us to hold panels to support decision making, we have ensured that we have still made urgent decisions relating to placement during this time. Going forwards, we will return to a panel format as the best way to support decision making, and we have taken this time to ensure they are planned to be most effective.
We would like our panels to provide clear advice and guidance to enable decision making that has the best interests of children and young people with SEND at the heart.
This has included:
- Ensuring we keep the child and young person’s best interests and goals at the centre of our decision making. This includes considering their hopes, ambitions and preparation for adulthood.
- Considering how we can ensure that parent, children and young people’s views are provided to panel so we can fully consider their views, wishes and feelings.
- Working with colleagues in planning to update the school place planning strategy.
- Reviewing the special school admissions and exit guidance for all of our placement types, including guidance for our new Specialist Resource Provisions (SRPs).
- Considering what happens before a panel – what preparation and evidence is needed to support the panel to make a recommendation?
- Considering what happens during a panel – who should attend, how should it be run, how do we make sure that every child or young person has a definite decision?
- Considering what happens after the panel meets - making sure that placement and follow up contact with families happens without delay.
The review of the SEND Provision Panel included representatives from mainstream and special schools, Integrated Services for Learning (educational psychologists, specialist teachers and the statutory SEND service), and parents of children and young people with SEND from Hertfordshire Parent Carer Involvement (HPCI).
What happens next?
We are running a trial of a new panel to help us understand the best ways of working. There will be 4 panels during November and December. This will inform a final, standard process that we use from 2023, that ensures we make decisions with clear outcomes for children, young people and families.
We will publish further information including the terms of reference and special school admission criteria once the trial is complete in the interests of supporting families and professionals to fully understand the process and be able to make informed choices about children’s futures.
If you are waiting for a panel to consider a change in type of placement
If you are waiting for a panel to consider your request for a change of type of placement, this will take place in one of 4 panels before Christmas and a member of the statutory SEND service will contact you once a decision is made to explain next steps.
We hope this update provides some reassurance for you and a roadmap for next steps. We would like to say thank you again for your continued patience during this incredibly busy time.