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SEND and Alternative Provision: key questions for the lead member for children’s services to think about

Key questions for a lead member for children's services to consider in relation to SEND and Alternative Provision.

1. Clear governance and accountability for SEND and Alternative Provision

  • Are the governance arrangements for the local area SEND partnership clear and well understood to you? 
  • Does the partnership have both strategic and operational delivery oversight through well serviced and impactful Boards? Can you describe the outcomes and impact for children with SEN/SEND?
  • How does the SEND board link with the Health and Wellbeing Board (HWBB), Integrated Care Board (ICB), other partnership boards and Scrutiny? Is this visible to you? How are you engaged?
  • Is there an up-to-date self-evaluation (SEF)? Has this been shared with you? Do you think it is accurate in its assessment of the local system?
  • As the lead member for children’s services, you have a statutory responsibility for all of children’s services. So, if you have another portfolio holder covering education and/or SEND how do you work with them? 
  • How are you influencing and levering support within the Council and across the local area partnership as the Lead Member?

2. Know who your children are

  • Does the local area partnership know who the children with potential or identified SEND needs are, working together as a single system? 
  • Is there one agreed data set that is used across the partnership to understand the effectiveness of the SEND system, including Alternative Provision (AP)? Can you use it to hold people to account?
  • Is this agreed data set informing and driving commissioning decisions?
  • Do you have ways of measuring and understanding the impact schools and services are having for children with SEN or SEND needs? Do you have information on impact and outcomes for children in AP too?
  • Do you know how many children with an EHCP attend mainstream schools in your area? What is the pattern across different schools? Is there a pattern across specific cohorts of children?
  • Do you know what is happening for children with SEND outside of schools? Are they involved in youth or community groups? Are they accessing sports and leisure activities? 

3. Understand the needs of the more vulnerable cohorts of children with SEND and that this is shared and understood across the system

  • Do you champion the needs of children who are looked after with SEN /SEND and ensure provision is in place to meet their needs?
  • Do you know what your Virtual School is doing to support Looked After Children and Care Leavers with SEN/SEND?
  • Do you know which children are not getting their statutory full-time entitlement to education? Which children are being excluded from school? Is there a pattern across schools or across cohorts of children? 
  • Do you have processes in place to ensure there is screening for children involved in the youth justice system to identify any SEN/SEND needs and ensure they are being met? 
  • How do your local services ensure children who are placed at a distance are safeguarded, especially if they have complex health and care needs and may not be verbal in their communication?

4. Are the voices and views of parents/carers, children and young people shaping and supporting the strategic ambition for the local area

  • Do you have an ambitious co-produced strategy for children and young people with SEN support, SEND and AP?
  • Do you have an effective Parent Carer Forum (PCF) with good representation and strong links to other key strategic partnership boards? 
  • How do you ensure the views of parents and carers who are not linked to the PCF are heard and considered? 
  • How do you ensure it is not just the loudest voices that shape services? How are you listening to the views of parents/carers who may have their own difficulties? How do you ensure any minority groups in your area are included? 
  • Are you confident that the views and hopes of children and young people are shaping the services they are receiving on a day-to-day basis and are also shaping their futures? ‘Nothing about us without us’ 
  • Do you make time to meet with the PCF, and attend events with children who have EHCPs? Have you got ways to hear directly from parents/carers and young people?

5. Preparing for adulthood

  • Do you know how many children with an EHCP transition into adult services?
  • Do you know how many children with an EHCP transition into higher education (HE), further education (FE) or employment?
  • What support is available to support young people with EHCPs into employment or FE/HE ? 
  • How are children and adult services working together to support the cohort of children who will transition to adult services? Ask this question about council services and about health services. 
  • Do you meet with your cabinet member for adult services? Adult services have national targets around employment for adults with autism and/or learning disabilities.

6. Communication across and within your local system is key

  • Schools, AP settings and FE Colleges are key to delivery – how do you hear and influence schools, AP and FE provision? Do you know where your pockets of great practice are? How are you sharing good practice across schools and settings? 
  • Do you know the quality of your Local Offer and what children and families are saying about this? Do you know when it was last reviewed?
  • Is your Local Offer reflective of the whole system – including health, schools and the voluntary sector? Or is it rather more local authority focused
  • Do you hear about complaints and cases referred to the Ombudsman? Do you hear about the SEND Information advice & support service and the key messages that come from them? Is there learning from complaints or themes that need to be addressed? 
  • What opportunities do you have to talk about your ambition for children with SEND and those in AP? How can you help develop a clear ‘golden thread’ through what all people are trying to do in your local area? 
  • How are you communicating with your cabinet, scrutiny, and other councilors? Do they know your ambitions and the work that is happening? Do they know how to direct people to help and support if they are contacted?