Sutton Local Area Written Statement of Action 3rd July 2018
1.1. Between 22 January 2018 and 26 January 2018, the local area of Sutton was inspected by Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) and CQC (Care Quality Commission). The inspection was to see how well the area had put in place the changes across all services that the Children and Families Act 2014 requires for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their families.
1.2. Whilst the Chief Inspector identified a number of strengths in the local area, there were also three areas of significant weakness identified in Sutton. These were set out in a letter which was published on the Ofsted website on 23 March 2018. To show how the Local Authority (LA) and the area’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is going to address these areas of weakness, we have developed this Written Statement of Action.
1.3. For each of the areas of weakness, we have made the following commitments:
- Area of Weakness identified by Ofsted and CQC: A lack of coherence and joint working between local area leaders, agencies and schools, which is resulting in poor communication, inconsistent opportunities for social inclusion and a high number of exclusions, especially at primary school level
- Sutton Local Area commitment:We will clarify roles, responsibilities and communication processes to provide a joined-up and collaborative approach for children and young people with SEND and their families ● We will improve the consistency of opportunities for social inclusion and reduce the number of exclusions, particularly in the primary sector ● We will improve opportunities for education settings, health and social care services to be jointly involved in decision making around SEND ● We will improve opportunities for effective joint working practices
- Area of Weakness identified by Ofsted and CQC: Poor oversight of quality and impact of Education Health and Care (EHC) Plans in meeting the needs of children and young people
- Sutton Local Area commitment: We will improve the efficiency of the EHC Needs Assessment process and the effectiveness of the Annual Review process ● We will improve the quality of outcomes in our EHC Plans through an overall Quality Assurance Framework of SEND processes
- Area of Weakness identified by Ofsted and CQC: Inequality of opportunity for families, which has arisen from a serious decline in the availability of an effective independent advice service in Sutton.
- Sutton Local Area commitment: We will improve our Sutton Information Advice Service.● We will improve our Local Offer and redesign our Local Offer website.
1.4. As local leaders we are committed to making improvements for children and young people with SEND and their families. We want to make sure that children are living, learning and growing up well in Sutton. Our driving ambition is to ensure children and young people’s needs are met earlier so that their outcomes are better, realised sooner, and so that wherever possible they won’t need the help of statutory services later down the line. To make this happen, we need to understand what stops this happening now, agree what ‘good’ looks like, and then decide how we will improve what we do consistently across the area.
1.5. As local leaders we are disappointed that we have not progressed as quickly and effectively as we should but we accept and acknowledge positively the findings of OFSTED and CQC: they provide a clear driver and mandate for change for the LA, the CCG and the local area.
1.6. The outcomes of the inspection have helped us to understand that: -
- Despite recent improvements and an increased focus on change, there has not been enough progress over time in making the changes that the Children and Families Act 2014 requires
- Training and support to leaders, officers and professionals across agencies in the Local Area, to help them understand and implement the changes, has not been sustained for long enough.
- There has been staff turnover at all levels which has meant that the impact of the training and support that has been given has not lasted. There has been an absence of ‘collective wisdom’ in place to drive forward the desired change at both strategic and operational levels.
- The setting up of a Local Authority Trading Company (Cognus Ltd) in November 2016, was a necessary response to the heavy financial pressures on education services in the Borough. However, this has impacted on our progress in the following ways:
- At a time of limited leadership capacity, it has taken time and attention away from developing and embedding the SEND reforms
- Lines of communication and accountability appeared to schools and families to be less clear, leading to schools in particular feeling less supported and less able to manage SEND pressures effectively
- Significant changes in staffing for some key service areas hindered the scope of leaders to maintain what were previously areas of strength, particularly the Sutton Information Advice and Support Service and the Local Offer.
- As a local area, we need to clarify the roles and responsibilities of different agencies and to strengthen the governance of the requirements of the Children and Families Act 2014. 1.7. We have taken the necessary time to reflect on the issues identified above and have started to take action to improve following the Ofsted and CQC findings. However, it is important that underpinning these actions is an agreed and collective vision for how we want to move forward across the local area.
2. OUR VISION
2.1. Coming together as a local area through our SEND Implementation Group, we have reviewed the work undertaken on our SEND strategy and reconfirmed our collective Vision: “We are collectively ambitious for our children and young people. Together we want to provide them with the best chances to achieve the best outcomes in life whatever their starting point, and prepare them effectively for adulthood.”
2.2. The local area will be driven by this Vision for children and young people and has used this to guide the creation of the Written Statement of Action. This is a development of the Vision set out in our Draft SEND Strategy which was endorsed by elected members in January 2018, just prior to the SEND Area Inspection. Some initial actions have been completed as part of this strategy, but further work is now required to develop the strategy and align it with the work set out in this Written Statement of Action: both are critical in achieving our vision. In collaboration with key partners including the CCG, education settings across all phases, the Local Authority, young people, parents/carers and the voluntary sector, we intend to have reviewed and expanded the SEND strategy by April 2019 in line with the work required by the Written Statement of Action.
3. KEY OBJECTIVES
3.1. In order to achieve our vision, partners have identified seven overarching objectives, and priorities to achieve them, in order to drive improvement. Some of these objectives go beyond the written statement of action and will underpin our intentions to improve our SEND offer across the local area. At the heart of this is a determination to change culture and practice, to listen to children and young people with SEND and their families, and to ensure that they are able to participate as fully as possible. Local leaders understand the urgent need to make a difference to families, children and young people. We recognise that continuing to develop, equip and enable professionals to work more effectively with families and young people, in line with the requirements of the Children and Families Act 2014, is key to improvement.
In Sutton, we are collectively ambitious for our children and young people. Together we want to provide them with the best chances to achieve the best outcomes in life whatever their starting point, and prepare them effectively for adulthood.
- Key Objective 1 - Co-production and Effective Communication: parents/carers, families, young people, education settings, health, social care, private, voluntary and independent sector and local authority and Cognus services collaborating to resolve issues, meet needs and create a pathway to adulthood
- Key Objective 2 - Objective 2 -Working to meet needs at the earliest point and reducing the likelihood of further intervention at a later point
- Key Objective 3 - Keeping aspirations high for all our children and young people and improving outcomes
- Key Objective 4 - Listening to the voice of children and young people and parents/carers
- Key Objective 5 - Wherever possible, ensuring children, young people and young adults are supported and sustained in local settings, and within their local community
- Key Objective 6 - Supporting Sutton education settings and schools to meet the needs of all their children and young people, and ensuring that these settings consistently provide good value for money
- Key Objective 7 - Creating a more inclusive, positive and celebratory model of disability and difference.
- Develop clear and coherent pathways to and through services and communicate these effectively to the community
- Create a continuum of inclusion to meet needs effectively at the earliest point
- Support families and young people, through outcomes based commissioning, so that they are able to make informed choices
- Work with schools and educational settings to ensure effective use of reasonable adjustments, best endeavours and the ‘assess, plan, do, review’ approach
- Strengthen our understanding and use of relevant legislation including the Children and Families Act 2014,the SEND Code of Practice 2015, The Equality Act 2010 and The Care Act 2014 throughout all services and settings, to inform our practice and to promote access and opportunity
- Enhance and shape our views on the power of diversity, equality and social inclusion.
4. OUR WRITTEN STATEMENT OF ACTION
4.1. Our Written Statement of Action sets out how the local area will address the three key weaknesses raised in the inspection and sustain improvement for children and families at scale and pace. It defines roles and responsibilities and shows clear lines of accountability. The Statement was developed through a strong partnership with senior leaders across the area, through a multi-agency, multi-professional approach, committing resources and leadership direction. These include education settings, the voluntary and community sector, family and young people representatives and statutory services. Collectively this group has formed the ‘SEND Implementation Group’ as set out in the diagram below. There are four workstreams linked to the main areas of weakness identified by Ofsted together with an additional workstream on Quality Assurance which underpins much of the work required in the Written Statement of Action.
5. SEND IMPLEMENTATION GROUP
- Chair: LBS Assistant Director Education and SEND
- LBS Send Programme Manager
- Workstream 1: Communication and Joint Working practices.
- Sutton CCG Deputy Managing Director
- LBS AD ED and SEND Lead
- LBS AD Childrens Services
- LBS Head of Pupil Commissioning Services Director, Cognus Ltd
- Headteacher - Alternative Provision
- Advice and support Lead - Cognus
- Sutton Parent/Carer Forum
- Workstream 2: EHC Planning
- LBS - Head of SEND
- Sutton CCG Commissioning Lead
- LBS AD ED and SEND Lead
- Sutton CCG - Services Manager
- Headteacher - Special School
- Vice Principal - Specialist College
- LBS - Head of Children Disabilities
- LBS Early Intervention Manager
- Workstream 3: Local Offer and Independent Advice
- Advice and Support Lead - Cognus
- Head Teacher - Primary
- Sutton Parent/Carer Forum
- SEN Assessment Officer - Cognus
- LBS Head of Transitions
- LBS AD ED and SEND Lead
- Workstream 4: Quality Assurance
- LBS QA Manater
- AD Quality - SUtton CCG
- Head Teacher - Secondary
- Vice Principal - Specialist College
- Services Director - Cognus
- Designated Medical Offier
- Sutton Parent/Carers Forum
- LBS AD ED and SEND Lead
- Head of Children Disabilities
6. ACTIONS UNDERTAKEN SINCE THE INSPECTION LETTER WAS PUBLISHED ON 23 MARCH 2018
6.1. For each of the areas of weakness, we have already completed a range of actions. These are outlined below.
6.2. Area 1: ‘A lack of coherence and joint working between local area leaders, agencies and schools, which is resulting in poor communication, inconsistent opportunities for social inclusion and a high number of exclusions, especially at primary school level.
- In response to concerns about leadership capacity
- the Local Authority appointed a permament Assistant Director for Education and SEND to drive through the LA's SEND Change Programme and to provide a single strategic lead within the Local Authority.
- the CCG appointed a substantive Deputy Managing Director with the responsibility for leading health engagement and participation in delivering the SEND Change Programme.
- the Local Authority recruited a SEND Programme Manager, who has significant experience of change management in SEND to support the Implementation Group and to ensure focus and rigour in the SEND improvement programme including the Written Statement of Action.
- In order to strengthen governance and improve communications, the Local Area set up an Implementation Group and developed three multi-agency workstreams to address each area of weakness identified by Ofsted and ensure joined up working across the partnership to achieve the shared Vision and;
- Developed a fourth workstream to address overarching issues, specifically those of Quality Assurance and Performance Management to ensure we develop, consolidate and maintain consistently high standards
- We initiated a review of the Designated Medical Officer role and how to make this effective in line with the requirements of the Children and Families Act 2014, in order for the Local Area partnership to have a strong common understanding and better informed decision making
- we have
- Established a Vision for the Local Area with regards to SEND providing a shared common aim for all partners that will provide the basis for decision making
- Established joint governance of the Written Statement of Action with Local Authority and CCG strategic leaders, ensuring robust leadership at a senior level within the area
- Commenced delivery of the planned integrated identification and early support service for children with Social Communication needs potentially linked to Autism, improving access to earlier support for children and young people. This support will improve the appropriateness of requests for Education Health and Care Needs Assessments (EHCNAs) as well as the evidence that supports them. It should also reduce the likelihood of a request as the needs can be met appropriately in other ways
6.3. Area 2: ‘Poor oversight of quality and impact of EHC Plans in meeting the needs of children and young people’
Education, Health and Care Plans (EHC Plans) - we have
- Completed the conversions of all statements to EHC Plans within timescale 6
- Implemented the plan to increase leadership capacity, drive change and improve quality for families and stakeholders through the recruitment of a dedicated Team Manager within the SEND team. ● Developed and introduced a new draft EHC Plan Quality Assurance template co-produced with Sutton Parents Forum and education leaders using the Department for Education guidance to promote better quality EHC plans. SEND case officers now cross moderate colleagues’ draft EHC plans before issue; further developments will be considered and agreed in the Autumn term
- Increased the frequency and quality of liaison between professionals assessing need, families and SEND case officers in order to more effectively co-produce an outcomes-focussed and person-centred EHC Plan
- Put in place a robust plan for case officers to contact and interact with parents/carers and families throughout the assessment process, this will lead to increased co-production and a more person-centred Plan.
- Ensured that Case Officers contact parents/carers, young people and education settings at the end of each EHC Needs Assessment to secure feedback on the quality of communication and interaction that they have experienced from the SEND service. Feedback provided will shape the way in which we improve the development of SMART outcomes, how we interact with parents and carers and young people about the process and the decisions, and help us to develop a more person-centred service
- Completed an initial review of the training needs for those contributing to EHC Needs Assessments
- Reviewed and invested c£500k into a community paediatric service to secure delivery of a statutorily compliant service with the capacity to provide a sufficient level of clinical scrutiny to the education, health and care planning process
- The CCG has agreed with its community provider for 2018/19 that improving the input into the SEND process by health therapy services is a Commissioning for Quality and Innovation Standards (CQUINS) requirement, leading to more comprehensive and outcome focussed Plans.
6.4. Area 3: ‘Inequality of opportunity for families, which has arisen from a serious decline in the availability of an effective independent advice service in Sutton.’
- Increased the SIASS staffing to 1.4 full time equivalent (fte) and in partnership with the Parent Carer forum we have already appointed 0.6 FTE
- Initiated a transformational Business Plan for SIASS to align with quality standards to provide a more effective service to families