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

To better support mainstream schools, a wide range of training and SEN service developments have been implemented. 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 are specialists provided by Cornwall Council working with schools and other educational settings, children and young people and their families in relation to these special educational needs. Further information about these teams, including referral and eligibility criteria  can be find in the SEN file

  • Autism conditions
  • Alternative and Augmented Communication
  • Cognition and Learning Needs, including moderate and specific learning difficulties
  • Hearing
  • Physical and Medical
  • Communication Support Specialist Speech and Language Therapy
  • Vision

There is a keen focus on meeting social and emotional mental health needs when they are a special educational need. A county wide lead has been appointed to lead this activity that includes development work with health services and information and training for school staff and families.

All the activities relating to education, health and care (EHC) assessments, EHC plans and the provision and outcomes of children and young people who have an EHC plan are co-ordinated by the Statutory SEN Service. The service was previously known as the SEN Assessment and Provision Team. Since September 2017 here has been a significant increase in the number of caseworkers which will increase opportunities to engage more responsively with young people, families, schools, early years settings and colleges.

The key principles underpinning service developments are: services for all types of SEN, responsiveness, clear communication and building capacity.

Special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs) have a pivotal role in every school and setting. To support them with their responsibilities there is a broad training offer, a SENCO network with termly meetings, weekly SEN information updates and access to advice from the SEN services. 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

In May 2017 the first Kernow SENCO conference took place, with over 100 schools taking part. It was so successful that Cornwall’s 2018 SEN Conference is already being planned for next May.  

Specialist provision in Cornwall

Area resource bases (ARB)

The number of places in secondary school area resource bases increased from September 2017, 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,  in some parts of the county there is still a shortage of this form of specialist provision and options continue to be explored to develop more provision in the parts of Cornwall where it is needed. This includes discussions with schools that have not previously hosted an ARB.

The building development at Trevithick School in Camborne is continuing well, this will lead to a change in capacity from 10 to 30, with planned places initially increasing 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 continue to engage with The Special Partnership Trust, 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 Local Authority is working with the Special Partnership Trust and together they are discussing resources, legal arrangements, co-production with parents and how to build on the ARB model to the benefit of the pupils who attend them.  As this project develops briefings are shared with  schools and services.

Special Free School Developments

The demand for additional special school capacity in Cornwall is kept under constant review. All new schools across the country have to be opened under the free school processes. Cornwall Council continue to explore all available SEN free school development options and engage proactively with potential providers.

Download SEND demographic details.

The two key aspects of SEN requiring additional special school provision are for:

  • a significant level of learning difficulties (severe and profound and multiple) along with children and young people with autism and associated significant learning difficulties to be based towards the east of Cornwall.
  • SEMH (social, emotional and mental health needs) educational provision. 

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 was considered at Cornwall’s Schools’ Forum Meeting of 13 July 2017, and an uplift in funding for special schools was agreed in principle.

Any organisation or individual that wishes to receive more information or wishes to express an interest in working with us on potential special free school opportunities should please email senreform@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. [Please note you will require a log in to access 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.