Agenda item



·  Paper for Information, discussion and vote


Before handing over to TM, JD noted that there was a very good response to the consultation.

TM thanked those who responded to the consultation and acknowledged that it has been an incredibly busy period for schools. 38 responses were received from schools. Referring to the consultation feedback document, TM summarised the responses; primary schools were 38% in favour with 62% not in favour and a 50, 50 split with the secondary schools.


JD acknowledged the quality of the information provided by the LA and noted it has given a clear understanding to schools and members as to what they are voting on and to know how to respond. JD opened up the discussion.


PH stated that the 0.5% is just in excess of £750K that is roughly the same amount of money within an approx. £10K of the variants with regards to the out of city (MARP) placements. Looking at the strategic review document from 2018, the table shows that in 2017/18 there were 62 children in out of city provision, the conclusion was that those would reduce over 7 years and by this point there would be 30 children. It was thought that once those children left the provision that those numbers would naturally drop and the recent spreadsheet still shows approx. 62 children.


TM advised that it was important to recognise that the strategic review proposal referred to was based on taking all the recommendations and having them in place by this point in time. One of the major recommendations was the reconfiguration for the special schools; if the LA had reconfigured and built the new special schools that are needed by now then the numbers would have reduced significantly. However that is a massive piece of work that has been in development for 2 years, they are close to making a request for money although it would be a multimillion pound investment from the LA. The revenue savings will not be seen without a capital investment and this takes time. Once they have had the opportunity to reconfigure they can start to make a meaningful dent in that budget. However, they have gone above and beyond to prevent the number increasing.


One of the challenges with the paper is it assumes that all the recommendations will be in place by a certain date and therefore the savings are achieved. Many of the recommendations on the paper will take a 5 to 10 year plan. The LA are expanding the local special school places as an interim measure to prevent the increase of out of city placements.  Another challenge from a SEN perspective is the number of children taken into care, often they are not placed locally and without sufficient school places elsewhere they need to attend independent settings elsewhere. They are working closely with the placements team on this to reduce the spend.  It was not possible to reconfigure and expand the special schools in a way that was needed to see the decrease however, they are working really hard to ensure the figure remains as static as possible.


PH noted that although the number has remained static, there has been a significant increase in cost and asked for clarity around the specialist places radical rise in costs. TM noted that some children needs are coming out of a phased transfer when they come into Great Oaks. There is also a significantly more complex level of need coming through the system; young people are surviving into adulthood and EHCPs now go up to 25 years where they would not have previously and those young people have extensive and complex needs. In the reconfiguration they are looking at developing their own specialist post 16 college to avoid costs elsewhere. There is currently a limited choice in where to send these children, with a mixture of complexity of need and the independent placements, who can increase their charges although the LA pushes back against this. Considering the figure it is important to note that it forecasts for the worst with an aspiration to come in under that.


JD noted that there were a lot of interesting issues that came out of the consultation and advised that this was the opportunity for members to ask questions. JD read the summary comments on the report.


MMc referred to the questions on the report and asked if the LA was putting things into the Special Needs budget that should not be there such as the inclusion of MASH.


TM responded by saying; looking at the guidance for High Needs there is room to support some of the funding to support the MASH and advised that this is small amount in comparison to other LA’s. There was a question around the need to pay for non-statutory services, TM’s thought this was needed as they are preventative services that prevent the LA getting to a statutory level. When the LA significantly reduced (by 50%) the Early Years advisory teacher teams from schools TM noted that primary schools are now feeling the impact of that decision. Primary schools are now receiving children with a more complex level of need as they have not had the crucial early year intervention required.


TM suggested covering the following in the High Needs group;

·  to discuss the purpose of the services

·  to look at the impact due to the reduction in services

·  to consider if there is a need to invest to save in these areas

·  to put more target effort in the Early Years to prevent the costs coming though latterly

Though the High Needs group they need to review and make recommendations, alongside the inclusion drive and the reconfiguration, there is a need to stop, reflect and to look at some of the reductions. They also need to consider the impact on schools and work with schools on how to spend the money moving forward. 


SP reiterated a couple of points made by TM, as a member of the High Needs working group who met a number of times SP reassured the members that they went through the lines in detail and challenged TM and the LA about what the funds were used for and whether they should be spent from high needs and what could be done. He confirmed that the work has started and he agreed with TM that the working group should be reformatted to review impact, to assess need and assess what is appropriate moving forward. SP reassured members that some of the changes were put in place in the working group.


SP echoed JD points around thanking the stakeholder colleagues in the LA for providing a lot of positive information and noted that it was encouraging to see that the responses were in collaboration with the schools and the LA. Speaking to colleagues around the city there is an empathy with the High Needs block issue and it was difficult for them to respond to the consultation, whilst they want to support the LA with the deficit, it was a struggle for them to understand whether schools should contribute to that.  SP was not surprised by the 60% / 40% split that came back through the consultation.