To receive a report which provides an update on the actions taking place in response to the Kent SEND Local Area Inspection by Ofsted/CQC.
1. Mr Gough, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education and Mr Dunkley introduced the report which provided an update on the actions taking place in response to the Kent SEND Local Area Inspection by Ofsted/Care Quality Commission (CQC).
2. Mr Dunkley drew Committee Member’s attention to a statistical error within the report and said that point 2.3 within the report stated that some 80% of local areas inspected over the past year by Ofsted/CQC had resulted in a Written Statement of Action (WSoA). However, as local areas were regularly inspected, the percentage changed constantly. Whilst it remained a majority of local authorities with a WSoA, it was not accurate to state that it was 80% of local authorities.
3. The Chairman suggested that the item be brought back to the Cabinet Committee in March 2020 and that the written statement of action be circulated to Committee Members when it had been sent. He added that an informal Member’s group would be established to ensure that the issue could be monitored regularly.
4. Mr Dunkley confirmed that the written statement of action was monitored quarterly by the CQC and Ofsted and briefly talked about the external accountability arrangements that were in place.
a) In response to a question, Mr Gough commented on the current position between special and mainstream schools in Kent and said that Kent County Council had invested in expanding provision within special schools and specialist resource provision. He added that in Kent, there were a greater proportion of children attending special schools as opposed to mainstream schools. He reassured the Committee that plans were in place to ensure a culture of inclusiveness and that children in Kent were receiving the appropriate level education which met individual needs.
b) In response to a question, Mr Gough briefly talked about the national fragmentation issues in relation to the NHS within the Sustainability and Transformation Plan.
c) In response to a question, Mr Dunkley informed the Committee of the measures that Kent County Council had put into place to ensure that Special Education Need (SEN) staff and Education Psychologists were supported during periods of significantly high workloads, whilst continuing to ensure that a child-centred approach was taken.
d) In response to a question, Mr Gough emphasised the importance of ensuring that the parents and families of children with SEN were receiving the essential services and had confidence in the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) process. He added that the level of demand nationally for EHCP’s was ever-increasing and Kent County Council had sought to address the high levels of demand through measures within the Special Educational Needs and Disability action plan. Mr Dunkley added that the promotion of EHCP’s within the health sector had contributed to the significant rise in the level of demand for EHCP’s.
e) In response to a question, Mr Dunkley said that whilst the amount of High Needs funding allocated to local authorities had increased, the demand for EHCP’s continued to increase at a significantly faster pace. He said that the highest level of increased spending of High Needs funding had been on independent and non-maintained schools for children that could not be placed in local special schools and had been placed in specialist provision. He said that there had been a reduction in the amount of High Needs funding spent on mainstream school children. Mr Gough reiterated Mr Dunkley’s comments and said that Kent County Council continued to lobby with government for more High Needs funding to continue to support Kent’s most vulnerable learners.
5. RESOLVED that the report be noted.