Special Educational Needs

Council now misleading Department of Education on Special Needs Children Plans …”to avoid being in the headlines”

The transfer of Statements to Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) for Special Needs Children is a programme that has to be legally completed by 31 March 2018. It started in September 2014, and for most of that period, despite over a million pounds of additional ring-fenced funding to do this specific task, Derby City Council has not made the requisite progress.  In just over 3 years, of a 3.5 year programme it had completed just 499 out of 1346 – just 37%, in nearly 90% of the time period. And it continued to try to convince parents it was still on plan!

Derby News previous article, in December 2017 : Council is deliberately misleading Parents over the Special Educational Needs transfer programme; it is NOT “on target” 

This was following an earlier open letter, in August 2017 to Cllr Russell “Open Letter to Cllr Russell: Plan continuing to fail Special Educational Needs children”

On 12th September 2017, the Minister of State for Children and Families wrote to all Councils reminding them of their legal obligation, and that, if they missed the target, consideration would be given to what follow up action would be taken to ensure that children would not be disadvantaged. The Department of Education continue to monitor the Council’s performance.

Since November the Council has reported a 10 fold increases in the rate of completion. Consistent numbers are being reported in different local forums, however it would seem that the Department of Education is being told a much lower number.

In the Full Council meeting on 24th Januray 2018, Cllr Russell reported that there were 644 still outstanding; this is backed up by subsequent reports being of the same order. The day before, Andy Smith, Strategic Director for People Services, reported just 386.  Why is he misleading the Government?

Detail

13 November 2017 – Cllr Russell confirmed in Full Council that there were 847 o/s ( 499 complete)

24 January 2018 – Cllr Russell confirmed in Full Council that there were 644 o/s ( 702 complete)  [ Just over 100 per month completed over the Xmas period – previously the rate was ~ 10 per month]

7 February 2018 – Internal Derby City Council meeting minutes – stated 590 o/s (756 complete)

13 February 2018 – report to Executive Scrutiny Board – 562 o/s (784 complete)

However, in Andy Smith’s report to the Department of Education on 23rd January 2018, he claims only 386 are outstanding, whilst declaring a much higher number (644) internally.

Extract from Andy Smith letter to Department of Education 23rd January 2018

He applauds the achievement of the completion of 702 plans. This is an additional 203 in 3 months ~70 per month. He asserts confidently that the remainder will be complete by 31 March 2018.  At 70 per month – 386 will take just over 5 months – making July 2018.

In reality there are 562 outstanding , and the achievement rate has been ~ 90 per month which is 6 months, or August 2018.

The Council has already failed many children

The deadline for completion for those children moving between levels in school was 15th February 2018,  whether it be:

1) Early years education to primary school;

2) Infant to junior school;

3) Primary/first to middle school;

4) Primary to secondary school; and

5) Middle to secondary school.

A recent FOI has confirmed that children at these levels have not received their EHCP.

Quality

A real concern is that this significant increase in output has been delivered at a much reduced quality level. The Minister, in his letter, reminds Councils that EHCPs must be done:

“…in a way that ensures good quality assessments are undertaken and high quality plans are in place”

There is clearly some concern about this, from within the Council, as they plan to do a 6 month review “in most cases”.

“This should provide parents with some reassurance that the information will be looked at again in case of any changes”.

..or that the document was prepared with flawed assessments and information?

In a final act of desperation, it was reported in the Council’s Executive Scrutiny Board on 13th February 2018,  that if parents do not respond to the draft plan within 15 calendar days it will be considered agreed, and therefore counted as complete. Agreement has to be explicit – this new “policy” is a cynical ploy to pressurise parents and force agreement, regardless of the quality, and acceptability. The consequences of this was recognised in an internal report:

“….and there may be implications such as tribunals, if parents feel that they haven’t had enough time to respond”

Comment

It is staggering that a Senior Officer, and the Cabinet Member, continue to try to convince the Department of Education, the public, and most significantly, the Parents, that everything will be fine. This is clearly not the case, and playing loose with a vulnerable child’s education is simply not acceptable. In 6 weeks time, their bluff will be called.

This is not about funding, or other 3rd Party excuses – this is about being honest with Parents of Special Needs Children.

An internal document tellingly advises the motivation behind this surge of effort….sadly, it is not for the benefit of the children and parents concerned.

“The DfE is well aware of our figures and all effort is being put in to avoid being in the headlines”

2 replies »

  1. It’s madness and all that’s going to happen is that more and more parents will take their case to tribunal which is going to cost the councilman lot of money. How many of these children where the plans have been done have had a proper assessment including new reports from an EP?

  2. The council are way behind. I know personally! There was one member of staff left to deal with them she went off sick early January and still is. The previous person also went off sick. I dont believe any have been finalised in the last 3 months! There is still no staff worker for under 16’s and they have drafted in someone who normally works on over 16s who has only just dealt with mine (after saying would go public after the maladministration in my case) from application being made march 17!

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