To receive and consider the High Needs Block and SEND Strategy Update report.
Sal Thirlway presented the High Needs Block/SEND Strategy Update report.
Some of the comments made by Sal Thirlway are listed below:
· The Task and Finish Group was very near to the conclusion of the final draft of the strategy. The strategy would then be sent out to consultation with key stakeholders and he anticipated that it would be ready for adoption in December;
· Data and performance reporting and intelligence was being improved;
· There had been an improvement in the timeliness and quality of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP);
· There had been a year on year increase in the number of EHCPs (21%), which was having a significant impact on the provision of SEND in the Borough;
· A lot of activity was now re-commencing after a period of re-deployment in response to the Covid-19 pandemic;
· It was hoped that Chiltern Way Academy Trust would become the new provider for Northern House;
· The increase in the number of EHCPs had impacted the HNB deficit and the need to use independent non-maintained provisions;
· The funding arrangements in the partnerships with Education, Health and Social Care were being reviewed to ensure efficiencies were being maximised;
· Since the last report to Forum, there had been a further deficit movement of £1m in the HNB.
During the discussion of the item the following comments were made:
· Jay Blundell asked the following questions:
· Firstly, about the Budget line relating to Foundry College which showed an additional £19k, she was not sure where this was coming from.
· Secondly, about the Northern House Budget line which showed £720k for a provision that provided 67 places only (according to the catch up premium); the £720k was only part of the funding for Northern House. Last their year their funding exceeded £2.1m and she wanted to know where the rest of the funding was shown;
· Thirdly, in relation to the Schools Block, the de-delegated Behaviour Support Services which showed a reduction of £22k due to the academisation of primary schools. She stated that this money should go back to primary schools and not to Foundry College, however it was reflected in the surplus/deficit line;
· Lynne Samuel stated that the £19k for Foundry College was in relation to an inflation uplift assumption, she offered to discuss this in more detail outside of the meeting;
· Lynn Samuel stated that the Northern House line was in relation to recoupment rate top up for HNB academies. In order to make it more transparent, Officers were asked to split the line to show each resource unit on an individual line;
· Lynne Samuel agreed to discuss with her colleagues about a better way to report the de-delegated fund, reflecting in-year changes;
· Jay Blundell asked who held the alternative education Budget of £100k. Lynne Samuel stated that this related to a number of small arrangements for EHCPs. Officers were asked to re-name that line to make it clearer;
· Ginny Rhodes requested an overview of how many EHCPs there were in each school year across the Borough, from pre-school to post-16; and where they were placed;
· Lynne Samuel stated that this information would be presented to the December meeting of Schools Forum;
· Ginny Rhodes stated that she had asked previously if every child in Year 6 had been placed into Year 7. She expressed frustration that St Crispin’s had been asked to take three high needs children in the middle of the summer with no time for recruitment of staff;
· Sal Thirlway accepted that it was a challenging situation, it was important to identify the right provision for SEND children. He acknowledged that there were significant capacity issues in the Borough. However, the local authority was responding to the challenge;
· Members were concerned that the HNB issue had been ongoing for a long time, without improvement; despites many attempts from previous senior leaders;
· Shirley Austin pointed out that it would be more cost effective for the local authority to support local schools with top up arrangements than to have to pay for independent out of Borough placements;
· Sal Thirlway stated that a review of top up arrangements was part of the activity that was now re-commencing;
· Paul Miller expressed concern over the expenditure in the independent placements, which was the major cause of the HNB deficit;
· Sara Attra stated that there were not enough respite places in the Borough and she believed that Social Care and Health should contribute to the funding of these places; she believed that Schools Forum needed a better understanding of tri-partied funding.
RESOLVED That the report be noted.