Published 07 July 2021
Dear parents/carers, children and young people, and colleagues
Education, health and care plans and annual review statement:
Hello, my name is Bev Milway and I am the Strategic Lead for SEND and Inclusion in Stockport. I would firstly like to apologise for the delay in my latest update.
Since my last letter I can update you with the following progress:
1. EHCP team
Update: We have had a period of staff change. There have been 4 full-time vacancies within the team of 12 during the last few months whilst recruitment takes place. As you can imagine this has caused capacity issues. I would want to apologise for any disruption this has caused to our families. I am pleased to say that we have recruited 3 of these posts with two new caseworkers having started with us within the last couple of weeks and the third new caseworker due to start with us by the end of the summer holidays. Please see an updated contact list in our EHCP information pages on the Local Offer.
John Gelder, EHCP Operational Lead will be running a series of Engagement Sessions during August to meet with himself and Team Leaders from the EHCP Team. These will take place on Wednesday 4th August and Wednesday 25th August 2021. There will be an initial open session commencing at 10am for one hour with the opportunity to book an individual session in the afternoon between 1pm -4pm. If the times are not suitable the team will book another mutually convenient slot.
2. Review of our administrative processes to ensure new education, health and care plans (EHCPs) are issued within 20 weeks and are of good quality
Update: During the period we have managed in most cases to maintain our timeliness within 20 weeks. Since March 2021 we have issued 102 plans, of these 96.2% have been on time.
We are continuing to look at the quality of our plans. We realise that we have some way to go with this and are keen to progress. This includes in the last few months:
We have met with a group of our young people to seek their feedback on our paperwork and processes. Using their very valuable feedback we have been able to incorporate this into our revised paperwork, ensuring that their voice is heard and acted upon.
- Following an initial pilot by our SENCO Working Group, our revised EHC needs request form was launched for our schools and other settings to use for all new requests from 7th June 2021.
- Our EHCP Quality Assurance Group looking at EHCPs (which includes representatives from our parent/carers, health and social care) continues to meet bi-monthly to audit a sample of Education Health and Care plans issued within the previous 2 months and put in improvement plans.
- Our SENCO Moderation Group has been continuing to meet on a monthly basis since March 2021 to look at a sample of new EHC Requests and their corresponding SEN Support Plans. Common themes and lessons learnt are then fed back to our SENCOs to inform improved practice.
- Drafting new Operational Guidance and revised Pro-forma for advice for professionals to use when providing their advice for an EHC needs assessment. This is currently being piloted by our professionals with further discussions taking place over the next 2 months to embed this into our processes.
In the next few weeks, we will be back to a full team of staff within the EHCP team and will be carrying out further support/training with them and with colleagues who provide advice on the EHCP process.
I understand that there has been some concern in regard to specific hours being placed within EHCP plans. I am clear as is John Gelder that we are continuing to quantify and specify provision in our EHCPs (type, hours, frequency of support and level of expertise).
However, having reviewed our previous practice and the SEN Code of Practice we have amended our processes to ensure it is in the correct section of our Education, Health and Care Plans.
We apologise if there has been any confusion in relation to this at all.
Annual reviews: We had an improvement plan signed off at SEND Board in March 2021. However, due to staffing capacity, we have not been able to deliver on this as we wanted. We have had to re-visit this and look at longer-term options.
I would want to reassure you that we know there is an issue and that this is being reported to the highest level within the council. In June 2021 a report was taken to the council’s Chief Executive and corporate leadership team to highlight a plan to tackle the short and long term annual review process. This plan was approved. We will be:
- NOW: Following completion of all of our phased transition Education Health and Care plans (Nursery-Reception; Primary-Secondary; Secondary-Post 16) we are now focusing our efforts on the remaining amended EHCPs for this academic year. We are aiming to complete 15-20 every week, working to amend our overall target of amending 200 plans over the forthcoming weeks.
We have also employed 2 additional staff in our Business Support Team to ensure that all our Education Health and Care Plan reviews are completed for this academic year. This includes following up with schools outstanding paperwork and updating records on our database system.
These actions should ensure that by the start of the academic year (2021/2022) we have a clear starting point for our annual reviews
- NEXT 3 Months: We are reviewing the structure of the EHCP Team so that we have specific staff working on new assessments and others who will be focusing on maintaining EHCPs, including annual reviews.
- Next academic year: Roll out of digital solutions in the next year. This will mean reviews being completed on our electronic system. This will cut down significantly time in relation to chasing paperwork and ensuring plans are amended.
3. Work with schools and settings to link the EHCP process into SEN planning
Update: We have continued to work closely with our SENCOs to improve links. This includes a monthly SENCO group which moderates a selection of SEN support plans, looking at the quality of the Support Plan, including evidence of co-production, family and child voice and what has been put in place as part of the graduated response. This moderation process has been extremely useful to all those SENCOs attending, who have said that through this sharing and discussion of practice they have been able to reflect upon and improve their own systems and approaches. Following the moderation process, individual feedback is given to schools and the common themes arising inform the training sessions for SENCOs, as part of the network meetings and drop-in training sessions. Moderation shows that many schools are now co-producing Support Plans with their families, but further work is needed to ensure that this is a consistent practice in every Stockport school; as such, this has been a part of the ongoing focus for SENCO training sessions, with good practice examples shared across the LA. Two further themes arising from the moderation process, and explored within SENCO network sessions, are ways to actively gain the authentic voice of the child and how to create ‘SMART’ outcomes (Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Ambitious, Realistic and Relevant and Time-Bound).
4. SEND week of action
Update: We undertook the third Stockport SEND week of action in May 2021. This was well attended and generated some really useful discussions and sharing of information. There was a lot of activity during the week, including a series of webinars for parents/carers giving advice on topics such as how to support your child with anxiety. These can be accessed here: SEND Week of Action May 2021
Co-production- We now have 54 schools/education settings signed up and 44 services signed up to the co-production charter. You can see the list of those signed up on the Co-production page of our SEND Local Offer website. We continue to work to embed the charter and are currently developing training.
Our SEND Champions now number 120. This is a group of parents/carers, workers and those who want to champion SEND who come together to look at how we can all work together to improve the experience for families in Stockport. If you are interested in joining you can find more information on the SEND Champions page of our SEND Local Offer website
5. SEN Transport
Update: We are now tendering out the transport routes for September. We have clearly listened to the feedback from families on the concerns regarding previous years and the rush. We have got plans in place to complete all routes in good time to carry out both taxi driver training and introductions in August if not earlier. We are starting to contact families this week to confirm some routes. We will also be rolling out a new transport one-page profile. This has been co-produced with young people and with input from our special schools. The aim is to ensure all taxi drivers/escorts have a clear overview of each young person before they welcome them on transport. This is optional but our team will discuss it with you when they contact you to confirm driver details. The form can be accessed at this link.
6. Keyworker pilot
Update: We now have 10 staff committed and working on the pilot and have identified the families taking part. This will now run until Autumn. The learning from this will then be important in looking at rolling out the model going forwards.
7. Support for SEND families
Update: We launched the “SEND hub” last year during covid, this is a line you can ring if you need any support. We have worked hard on this and now we have this as part of our longer-term early help and support offered. I would encourage parents/carers to ring this if they feel they need support.
Please ring 0161 217 6028 and select Option 2 if you need support or someone to speak to.
8. Summer holiday activities
Update: Activities for the summer holidays are now starting to take shape. Where we have been told about them, we will post on the SEND Local Offer website ‘what’s on’ page. There is also a programme of activities developing as part of the Department for Education Holiday Activities and Food Programme and we will post details about these when they are confirmed.
We know that this is still a potentially stressful time for all, particularly our SEND families. We have put together some resources that could be useful. These can be found on our SEND Local Offer website.
9. Have your say and let us know about your lived experiences
Update: We have launched a specific page on the local offer for our community to feedback on their experiences. This can be both things to celebrate, positives that may have helped you or you may want to highlight things that did not go as expected, and that may need to change. This can be on any aspect of your SEND journey, health, education or social care. We would encourage the use of the page and will be looking at feedback to inform our improvement plans. The page can be accessed here: lived experience feedback page on the local offer with the specific feedback link here: lived experience feedback form
Stockport publishes a monthly SEND newsletter for our community. Click the link below to receive the latest information and updates on SEND in Stockport. You can find every issue of the SEND Newsletter on the SEND Newsletter page of our SEND Local Offer website. Subscribe here
I will be providing further updates in September 2021. If you have a specific query or question in the meantime, please contact me at email@example.com.
Strategic Lead for SEND and Inclusion