The Board gave consideration to a report which provided information on the development and key highlights of Oldham’s new Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Strategy.
The Board were informed that following the inspection in October 2017, the SEND Partnership had co-produced a new SEND Strategy for Oldham. The partnership were being driven to deliver significant improvement in the services offered to make a real difference to the lives of Oldham’s children and young people. Ofsted and the CQC had revisited Oldham in October 2019 to review progress.
The SEND Strategy was in the final process of sense testing. The SEND Oldham Partnership had held a consultation and engagement session and a series of stakeholder events which had helped shape both the draft SEND Oldham Strategy and Development Plan (2019-22). The strategy and plan, which had been co-produced with the local SEND Partnership, were out for final consultation.
Oldham’s ambition was ‘to be a place where children and young people thrive’. The key outcomes of the strategy had shaped and directed the Development Plan which focused on the following key priorities for improvement:
· Every child and young person is a confident communicator
· Every learning setting is inclusive
· Every young person is ready for adulthood
· Every child and young person is a part of their community.
Qualitative data and intelligence had been derived from the new SEND Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) to inform the strategy. Intelligence was gathered with a number of groups and took 12 months to ensure that all views had been considered.
The members were informed of the considered approach undertaken following the Ofsted/CQC inspection and the long consultation process.
Members were informed of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans, behaviour policies, assisted technology and preparing children and young people for adulthood. Members were informed that the document had been shared with all primary and secondary headteachers. Members were also informed that the authority had not yet received the letter from Ofsted/CQC regarding the recent visit.
Members referred to funding in schools and overspends. Members referred to the very good provision at Hollinwood and asked about provision for students with autism. Members were informed that regarding funding, a letter had been submitted as part of the comprehensive spending review on underfunding in Greater Manchester. Officers had created a report on budget pressures on the in-borough provision, the pressures of parental preference, early intervention in early years and bringing more resources into mainstream schools.
Members raised the issue of exclusions and students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Members were informed of the Joint Needs Assessment and work with public health. The Oldham Family Connect project had been established which triaged cases.
Members asked about links with the voluntary and community sector and stories to be shared from students who had aspired and achieved progress and utilised those successful students as mentors. Members were informed that the voluntary and community sector was being developed to maximise potential and were factored into the development plan. In response to the aspiration query, members were informed of meaningful tools for young people, the use of social media and celebration of diversity.
Members commented on schools breaking the law with regard to exclusions for those with SEN and asked if guidelines had been produced. Members were informed that teachers had been reminded and this would be addressed in the development plan.
Members asked about those students who were home-educated and safeguarding issues as parents could refuse to let officers see the student. Members were informed that annual reviews had been completed on those who were home educated and that numbers were low.
Members asked how many education psychologists were currently employed by the Council. The exact number was not known at the meeting but a structure chart would be sent to members. Members were informed that the service was operated under a service-level agreement with schools. Academies could have separate arrangements.
Members endorsed the SEND Strategy. Members commented that the CQC may have comments which may impact on the strategy. Members requested to receive information related to the recent Ofsted / CQC visit but were informed that this had not yet been received. It was agreed that the Chair would meet with officers when the letter had been received, agree what could be circulated to members and consider when to report back to the Board.
1. The mission and outcomes of the SEND Strategy be endorsed and the approach used be applied to other strategies being developed in Oldham.
2. Information related to the structure of Education Psychologists be sent to Board Members.
3. The Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Board meet with the Assistant Director, SEND following receipt of the letter from Ofsted / CQC.