EA and HCAN 2015 Summer Update

The Educational Achievement Policy Committee held a joint meeting with the Health, Care and Additional Needs Policy Committee on Friday 22 May to discuss achieving the best outcomes for vulnerable children.

The NSPCC joined the meeting to share a new approach they are developing to assessing and supporting children who return home from care – around a third of children who leave care each year return home with significant variation locally in rates of reunification breakdown; from 11% to 59%. The NSPCC’s social work practice guidance has been co-delivered with three authorities (including Newham). It is based on a helpfully light-touch framework which fits within ‘usual’ practice but emphasises evidence based assessments and group decision making. Colleagues from Newham felt the approach was positive for children on the edge of care.

The EA committee has recently been looking at the attainment of children in care and three researchers from the Rees Centre at Oxford University joined the group to discuss their ongoing study in this area. Though the findings of this exercise, and the accompanying recommendations, are still in the process of being formed, there is emerging evidence that the care system acts as a protective factor in terms of educational outcomes. The researchers, and the young people and professionals who took part in the study, report that the accepted measure of success (five GCSEs grades A* - C) is unhelpful. It is suggested that a greater focus on progression is needed and that outcomes should be assessed over a longer period of time.

Christine Lenehan from the Council for Disabled Children and the ADCS leads for SEND reforms provided a useful update on recent activity, including recently implemented aspects of the legislation (on young carers, parent carers and EHCPs in youth justice provision), pilots of a joined-up tribunal approach and work with health and social care. It is clear that all areas are struggling with the transfer of Statements to EHC Plans, in the prescribed timescales and with the allocated funding. The DfE are aware of this.

In Control provided a useful overview of their Personal Outcomes Evaluation Tool (POET) which allows areas to assess the views of practitioners, parents and young people on the impact of personalisation and EHCPs. The tool is referenced as one way to evidence impact as part of the accountability framework for SEND, including the new separate Ofsted inspection currently being piloted. It was felt there are lessons to be learnt in developing thinking about what integration in children’s services looks like, particularly better working with health, and related workforce challenges.

This led to discussion of mental health commissioning and the recently published Taskforce report, which appears to be being taken forward by NHS England. ADCS, LGA and Solace have asked for a meeting to discuss joint leadership of this agenda.

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