Special Educational Needs Review

Cornwall Council is committed to working with a wide range of partners, including young people, parents and schools, to ensure that there is sufficient, high quality Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision to meet the needs of Cornwall’s children and young people with complex educational needs.

Children and young people with complex needs in this context are those who have a Statement of SEN or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan that specifies a high level of provision. High quality SEN provision keeps children and young people safe and enables them to make good or better progress against the outcomes specified in their statements or plans.

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The Council undertook a review of SEN provision in Cornwall, working with partners, to establish: the pattern of educational provision required to meet the needs of learners with complex special educational needs; and the development programme to enable provision improvements to be defined, prioritised and implemented.

The review ran from September 2015 to April 2016 and had a number of distinct phases. More detail about the process can be downloaded.

The following priorities emerged from the review and form the basis of our implementation plan. See our July update below which provides examples of some of the activities set out in our plan:

  1. Mainstream schools and settings
  2. Specialist provision in Cornwall
  3. Social Emotional and Mental Health and Autistic Spectrum Disorders
  4. Evaluation of effectiveness

The priorities to develop aspects of special education provision for young people with complex needs are captured in Cornwall’s SEND Strategy for 2016-17.  The multi-agency SEND Board has agreed the actions to be taken this academic year and is monitoring what is happening, as well as providing support and challenge to ensure that progress is maintained.

A team led by the Head of SEN Assessment and Inclusion is responsible for the full range of provision developments.  To achieve the best possible arrangements ongoing partnership working is essential, any questions or recommendations related to provision and developments can be sent to senreform@cornwall.gov.uk.

Mainstream Schools and Settings

Actions have been taken to promote, quality assure, and actively seek feedback about the specialist SEN support services.  Feedback shows 80% of advice was rated as excellent/good in enabling staff to recognise and understand individual SEN and 74% of advice considered was excellent/good in developing quality first teaching resulting in pupil progress over time. The feedback received has informed further developments to services.

The Physical Disabilities Advisory Service is now known as the Physical and Medical Need Advisory Service representing the new broader function.  Through close liaison with the Council’s Special Educational Needs (SEN) support teams and key NHS therapy teams this team provides advice and support to schools, to enable pupils with physical and or medical needs access to the school curriculum.  Further information can be found on their web page or via email at physicalandmedicalneeds@cornwall.gov.uk.

The Behaviour Support Service is now known as the Social Emotional Behavioural Support Service.  The Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 0-25 years, identifies four broad areas of special educational need – ‘behaviour’ is not one of those.  The new name of ‘SEBSS’ gives a clear message on the function of the service and aligns it with the new SEN legislation. This service supports schools to identify, manage and provide for the social, emotional and mental health needs of individuals and groups of pupils in the school setting. 

Enhancing SENCO training opportunities is a focus this academic year and there will be new courses advertised in 2017.  The SENCO network and SENCO national award continues to thrive.  There will also be a SENCO conference in early summer.

There have been significant positive developments undertaken in partnership with the Further Education (FE) sector and ongoing work is taking place to clarify resources and establish earlier placement confirmation that will support better transitions for young people post 16.

Specialist Provision in Cornwall

The LA has engaged with a number of potential providers of additional special schools via the free school route.  All new schools are now free schools. 

Some special school free school applications were made at the end of September with the outcomes of this round expected to be announced in 2017. The process involves the Education Funding Agency (EFA), New Schools Network and Regional Schools Commissioner who engage with the LA regarding the strategic fit of proposals.  The LA continues to work with other providers who plan to make further free school bids for the next national round of applications that is anticipated to be in February 2017. 

The four special schools – Curnow, Doubletrees, Nancealverne and Pencalenick – are now all academies and work together as the Special Partnership. Joint working between the LA and Special Partnership is strong. The LA has also been working with providers in Devon and Plymouth about schools which could also cater for some of our young people.

A new additional way for special free schools to be opened has been introduced by national government.  Cornwall is taking part in this process with the aim, if successful, of there being a further free school which will be complimentary to other applications.

If you are interested in establishing a new provision in Cornwall and would like to discuss your ideas or a copy of the latest information pack to support this process please contact: senreform@cornwall.gov.uk.

Area Resource Bases (ARBs)

There has been continued joint working between ARBs and the LA to further strengthen the offer to pupils, sharing best practice and exploring innovative ways of working.

It has been possible to already expand the number of ARB places in some parts of the county, this links to minor building adaptations and where demand is greatest.  There are also plans being developed to significantly increase the number of ARB places for primary aged pupils in the west of Cornwall. 

Social Emotional and Mental Health and Autistic Spectrum Disorder

These were two priority types of need identified in the provision review. Information about the range of provision currently available is being drawn together, publicised and analysis of current arrangements has been included in development of support services as described above and the activity around the special free schools.

Training Events are advertised on School Messenger and information and all training is now promoted centrally in the SEND Training directory within School Messenger.  The directory includes training and courses arranged under key headings: 

  • Children with cognition and learning needs
  • Children with communication and interaction needs
  • Children with sensory and or physical needs
  • Children with Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs
  • SEND and Breaking down barriers to learning
  • National Award for SEN co-ordination

Evaluation of Effectiveness

The review process identified a need to be able to judge what difference provision makes for an individual pupil and whether one type of provision is more effective that another in meeting certain types of need. The LA is  currently reviewing models of good practice elsewhere in the country, looking at the performance of schools in the independent sector and developing new measures for use in 2017.