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 latest updates 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

In order to better support mainstream schools, a wide range of training and SEN service developments are taking place. These changes follow feedback from schools, families and young people and an investigation into how effective services are delivered in other parts of the country. From September 2017 there will be more significant SEN Service changes and developments. When all recruitment has been completed details about the new services will be widely shared.

The key principles underpinning the developments are: services for all types of SEN, responsiveness to local need and building capacity. Special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs) have a pivotal role in every school and to support this new courses for SENCOs have been developed and are running from summer 2017.

In May the first Kernow SENCO conference took place, over 100 schools took part and the extremely positive evaluations show how it informed and inspired SENCOs. Key documentation and advice continues to be co-produced and  made available to school staff, families and support services. Please see the regularly updated SEN File and Cornwall’s Local Offer for this information. A recent example is the ‘Graduated Response for SEN’ document, that provides a clear guide to applying the assess – plan – do – review cycle for all forms of SEN. Another example is that The Autism Spectrum Team (AST) have produced a DVD of good practice in relation to meeting the needs of children with an Autism Spectrum  Condition and this is being piloted along with a school audit.

Specialist provision in Cornwall

Area resource bases (ARB)

There will be  an increase in the number of places in secondary school area resource bases from September, for example in Saltash and Cape Cornwall. This reflects an increase in the number of secondary school pupils requiring resource base provision.

Secondary schools with area resource bases have been flexible about meeting the needs of as many pupils as possible and minor building adaptations have taken place. However, despite the above in some parts of the county it has not been possible to place all the pupils requiring  this form of specialist provision in the coming year.

Initial discussions are also taking place in relation to new ARB provision in schools that have not previously hosted one.

The building development at Trevithick School in Camborne is continuing well, this will lead to a change in capacity from 10 to 30, and planned places from 10 to 20. It is also positive that all primary phase area resource bases now cater for the full primary school age range.

A number of schools with ARBs are taking part on a development project with the Special Trust Partnership, exploring alternative deliver models for pupils with complex needs who attend a mainstream school. The Special Partnership Trust (SPT) is an equitable partnership of four of the Special Schools in Cornwall: all are ambitious for excellence in learning and support and all have secured a good or outstanding rating during their last Ofsted inspections.  The project is now gaining in momentum.

  • The ARB Lead Practitioner is gathering information from a number of interested schools as the first steps of the joint working process, ensuring openness and transparency at each stage
  • The Local Authority are working with the Special Partnership Trust and have determined a draft project plan, to include discussions regarding financial viabilities, legal arrangements, co-production with parents and the model of ARB agreements
  • Project outline discussions have been held with mainstream school staff, to be followed in the Autumn term by a full parent and pupil consultation should schools decide they would like to proceed with the project.

Download the full project update.

Special Free School Developments

Following consideration of population trends and the ongoing needs analysis we are in a position to be able to update the information about the demand for additional special school capacity in Cornwall.

Download SEND demographic details.

There is an increase over time in the need for provision for children and young people with a significant level of learning difficulties (severe and profound and multiple) along with children and young people with autism and associated significant learning difficulties. Any proposals for a free school to meet these needs should be for 80 places and from reception up to year 14. It needs to be located to the east of the three current schools, that cater for this cohort of young people. Good road connections to support efficient transport links across the eastern half of the county is highly desirable.

The demand for provision for SEMH (social, emotional and mental health needs) remains constant. For this type of provision a through age provision  for 60 pupils either using one central site to cover the county, or being delivered on two sites that will result in  a smaller setting and a lower amount of travelling.

Feedback to potential providers of an SEN free school, including Cornwall Council, has included a clear, consistent message that the current funding rate for special schools is an insufficient resource to deliver special school provision. That is in spite of the current good and outstanding Ofsted grades held by the Special Partnership Trust multi-academy trust.

This matter is of significant concern and it will be considered at Cornwall’s Schools’ Forum Meeting of 13 July. The papers for Schools’ Forum are available a few days before meetings take place on the following page: Cornwall Schools' Forum - Committee Details.

Any organisation that wishes to receive information or wishes to express an interest in working with us on potential special free school opportunities please email sendreform@cornwall.gov.uk

Social Emotional and Mental Health and Autistic Spectrum Disorders

These were two priority types of need identified in the provision review.  For more information about available SEN services see the main section of The SEN File.

We are also expanding the range of training for schools, which can be found in the SEND Training Directory within School Messenger.

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. We are 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.