Agenda item

SEND Sufficiency/SEMH Strategy - Impact on the High Needs Budget


Jenny, Lingrell, Assistant Director – Commissioning, Performance and Inclusion, and Mary Jarrett, Head of Inclusion, gave a presentation on the SEND Sufficiency/SEMH Strategy and its impact on the High Needs Budget.


The presentation specifically covered:-


·             The High Needs Budget.

·             Key Lines of Enquiry.

·             £36 million Budget with £5.3 million Pressures in the areas of:-


Ø   Post 16 Transport (£160k).

Ø   Equipment Budget (105k).

Ø   Inclusion Services (£730k).

Ø   Total Budget of Special Schools (£13 million).

Ø   Out of Authority Provision (£4.4 million).


·             The Five Year Plan.

·             Forecast – EHCP Growth.

·             Forecast – Population Growth Age/Key Stage Groups.

·             Forecast – Primary Need Growth.

·             Primary Needs.

·             Forecast for School/College Provision.

·             Forecast for School/College Provision Out of Authority Area.

·             Phase 1 of the SEND Sufficiency Project.

·             Phases 2 and 3.

·             Increased Use of Inclusion Units – 50 Places.

·             Timescales.

·             Criteria for Business Cases and Evidence of Deliverable Outcomes from September, 2019.

·             Next Steps.


Discussion ensued and was clarification sought on the top-ups for EHCP, specialist provision and whether additional special school special schools places were the answer, the high costs associated with out of authority placements (where children were accessing places in independent schools), adequacy of the budget and the three year programme to increase the number of SEND places by 125.


Jenny Lingrell advised that a reminder email was to be circulated to all Head Teachers, as of today, about the SEND Sufficiency process with a deadline of 31st May, 2019, to encourage any suggestions/thoughts/ideas about any alternative provision and to explore any pockets of good practice that currently existed in schools.


The Chair also sought further information on the number of children permanently excluded, how many were returned to mainstream and the need for intensive outreach work that may be required to prevent a permanent exclusion occurring.


The Forum were advised that as an Authority Rotherham mirrored what was happening nationally with exclusions and whilst the picture was negative, more students were being kept in school longer.  However, the last two weeks had seen a rise in the number of students permanently excluded from school.


Whilst it was noted some schools were working incredibly hard to maintain students who were at risk of permanent exclusion, the lowering numbers of support staff and limited resource were making this harder to achieve.


In terms of out of area placements further information was sought on the reasons for seeking an out of area placement, perception of parents, local provision, impact of such a provision on the budget and how Rotherham was also a net importer of students to our Special Schools.


It was difficult to determine how much in financial terms was coming in due to how the High Needs Block took off and added back in.  This was a challenge for the Local Authority, but there was an appetite to work together with Barnsley, Doncaster and Sheffield.


There would need to be support to parents and to work with them to provide reassurance that Rotherham schools could meet the needs of their children and to challenge appropriately parental preference where there was sufficient evidence to do so.


Rotherham clearly needed to market its specialist provision more as it was unable to compete with the large multi-national organisations.  However, its special schools were now full, but further work was needed on how to access short term resource within a mainstream setting.


Over the next year an Inclusion Review would look at developing access to additional SEN funding for children and young people in crisis to enable schools to respond more quickly to children and young people’s needs.


Agreed:-  That the presentation be received and the contents noted.