Agenda item

Safety Valve Intervention Programme (DSG Recovery Plan)


Nathan Heath to report.


Recommendation:-  That the report be received and the contents noted.


Nathan Heath provided an update on the Safety Valve Intervention Programme by way of a presentation which covered:-


What the high needs safety valve was:-


              Significant pressures on high needs budgets have resulted in many local authorities accruing deficits on their Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG)

              High needs reforms and savings targets have been agreed for local authorities with the highest dedicated school grant deficits as part of Safety Valve Arrangements.

              There were two principal goals identified during the programme which were critical for the local authorities’ ability to reach sustainable positions:


o     appropriately managing demand for Education, Health and Care  Plans (EHCPs), including assessment processes that are fit for purpose

o     use of appropriate and cost-effective provision. This includes ensuring mainstream schools are equipped and encouraged to meet needs where possible, whilst maintaining high standards for all pupils.


              Five local authorities moved into those agreements in the last academic year  - Bury, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kingston upon Thames, Richmond upon Thames, and Stoke on Trent.

              As part of the first round of safety valve agreements all five local authorities also agreed additional capital investment to support the key strategic priorities as outlined by DSG management templates.

              Learning from first round of high needs safety valves has been shared and disseminated  by DFE.

              Learning shared includes key areas of focus and best practice case studies – Rotherham was included within this


The Safety Valve in a Rotherham Context


              Previous updates to forum have given due note to safety valve activity in other local authorities.

              RMBC has previously met with EFSA to go through our management template and provide an overview of long term strategic planning linked to high needs budget.

              As part of the next stage of DFE Safety Valve Agreement, Rotherham have been invited to join negotiations.

              First phase of process will begin at the end of September and includes senior leaders from with RMBC.

              The DFE/EFSA negotiation teams include ex CEX of a Local Authority, Chief financial officers, DFE/EFSA colleagues.

              Work will be undertaken to look at our management plan and develop an agreement that supports a more sustainable long term funding model.


Key Areas of Cocus of Safety Valve Agreements


              Early intervention focus

              Increased SEN support offer

              Review EHCP assessment processes and thresholds

              Culture change and work with school leaders

              Appropriate and thorough provision mapping, with potential development of more local provision


Key Areas of Cocus of Safety Valve Agreements – Next Steps


              Schools Forum will receive regular updates and detailed plans emanating from Safety Valve discussions.

              Schools Forum High Needs Sub-Group will have a key role in driving action linked to our management plans forward.

              Engagement and co-production of future areas of development across stakeholders will be essential in maximising opportunities against Safety Valve Agreement.

              Key areas of focus for Rotherham will develop out of the initial discussions and subsequent negotiations as part of this a rigid long term plan will be developed.


The Forum in their receipt of the presentation welcomed the structural input to provide solutions to a situation that had been endemic over a number of years.


Whilst the opportunities and understandings from this process would meet the long term aspirations, it was not possible to give any timescales from the discussions to date.  This was the reason for why the meeting of the High Needs Sub-Group had not taken place in July, but once further details had been provided the action led process would continue.


Agreed:-  (1)  That the presentation update be received and the contents noted.


(2)  That a copy of the presentation be circulated to the Forum Membership after the meeting.