A report on SEND and SEHM provision will be presented, Document LQ. This report includes response to the information requested at the last meeting, as recorded in the minutes.
The Schools Forum is asked to consider and to note the information provided.
(Marium Haque – 01274 431078)
The Deputy Director, Education and Learning, together with the Strategic Manager, Integrated Assessment, the Strategic Manager, Admissions and Exclusions and the Strategic Manager, Sufficiency and Intelligence, presented Document LQ. This report included response to the SEND places development information requested at the last meeting (Appendix 1), as recorded in the minutes. An update was provided verbally on Alternative Provision.
SEND Places Creation (Appendix 1)
Following the presentation of Appendix 1, Forum members made the following comments and asked the following questions:
· A point of clarification was made, that Beechcliffe Special School is not an SEMH provision.
· Are the additional numbers at Co-op Academy Southfield to be completed January 2020 or April 2020? The Strategic Manager, Sufficiency and Intelligence, responded that phase 2 of development will be completed at January 2020 and phase 3 by April 2020. Interim arrangements will be in place for the autumn term, which includes Co-op Delius and Chellow Heights retaining some year 6 children in the autumn term.
An academies member, on behalf of Southfield and the Co-op Trust, made a statement in regards to the development of places at Southfield and these interim arrangements. He explained that there have been unavoidable delays due to COVID-19. 27 children will transition to Southfield in September. A further 21 children will transition in January 2020, rather than in September, subject to four new classrooms being completed. He expressed his gratitude to Delius and Chellow Heights for their management of these interim arrangements across the autumn term.
· Whilst recognising the impact of COVID-19 on increasing the occupancy of newly created places in the summer term, the Chair expressed her disappointment that so many new places are still to filled. She asked what the barriers are to occupying these places. The Strategic Manager, Integrated Assessment, responded to explain that there is some delay in the data, where children and young people have been placed in these new settings but have not yet come on roll (due to COVID-19). He stated that the occupancy of these places at September will increase. This was reinforced by comments from the Strategic Manager, Sufficiency and Intelligence. He also stated that newly created places are filled incrementally in a managed way to ensure successful delivery.
The Chair thanked the Strategic Manager for his response. She added that, in speaking to schools, one of the barriers being suggested to her in relation to resourced provision is that there aren’t places available in the correct year groups. The Chair asked whether this is recognised as a barrier. The Forum engaged in a discussion about the restrictions within the 2014 code of practice, the importance of parental preference as a factor in placement and the extent to which the Authority can introduce an element of central strategic organisation. The Strategic Manager agreed that there does need to be an element of centrally planning and stated that the Authority is trying to improve this.
· The Vice Chair, referencing the pressure that comes into mainstream provision from an increased number of pupils on roll with EHCPs, asked whether a mainstream provision can be declared as ‘full’ (in the sense that the mainstream school cannot admit more children with EHCPs). The Strategic Manager explained that it is difficult to declare a mainstream provision as full in this way. He added that the Authority is currently developing some training to deliver to schools (and SENCOs) on the law related to EHCP consultations.
· Referring to the Deputy Director’s comments at the last meeting, about developing a ‘diverse’ SEND places offer in Bradford, the Chair asked what the Authority’s strategy is for the development of new SEND Free School provision. The Deputy Director responded that this continues to be considered, but in the context that a new free school is not an immediate solution. We also need to ensure that it is the right school, with the right demographic and with the right sponsor. The Strategic Manager, Sufficiency and Intelligence added that a new free school is not ‘off the table’ and the Authority will be considering an application when a new wave opens (there currently isn’t a wave open).
· Is the Authority planning to develop more places for September 2021 and is further places development affordable within the High Needs Block? The Strategic Manager, Sufficiency and Intelligence, responded that more places are being planned but that we soon will have ‘saturated’ our existing estate. The Business Advisor (Schools) explained that much of the affordability position will be influenced by the High Needs Block settlements over the next couple of years. He added that we need to balance the cost of additional places with continuing to uplift the values of top up funding to ensure that providers are appropriately funded as their costs increase, and so affordability will need close monitoring.
The Strategic Manager, Admissions and Exclusions, reported that the Authority is seeking to commission 165 places in total for permanent exclusion provision and is currently notifying individual providers of this intention.
The Deputy Director, Education and Learning reported that the Authority is having on-going discussions with the DfE about the position of District PRU and its academy order and that we are pushing the DfE for its decision, which is overdue. She reminded members that the Authority is ceasing its commissioning of places at 31 August 2020. Our discussions about this provision going forward from September have been curtailed by the delay in the DfE’s decision on the academy order. We hope to share further information with the Forum and schools in September.
The Chair asked about the position of the working group that is meeting to consider alternative provision matters. The Strategic Manager, Admissions and Exclusions explained that a meeting of this group will be scheduled for early in the autumn term. The Chair asked whether this group is open to non-Forum members and it was clarified that this is.
That the contents of Document LQ be noted.