Agenda item

Special Education Needs &/or Disability (SEND) Provision in Barnsley


The following witnesses were welcomed to the meeting:


Nina Sleight, Service Director Education, Early Start and Prevention

Anna Turner, Schools Governance and Alliance Board Manager

Neil Wilkinson, Projects and Contracts manager

Kwai Mo, Head of Service Mental Health and Disability

Lee McClure, Headteacher Springvale Primary School and joint Chair of Barnsley School Alliance

Patrick Otway, Head of Commissioning (Mental Health, Childrens’ and maternity, Barnsley CCG

Jamie Wike, Chief Operating Officer, Barnsley CCG

Rebecca Appleyard, Team Member Disabled Chil;dren’s Team

Councillor Trevor Cave, Cabinet Spokesperson Childrens’ Services


In attendance virtually:


Amber Burton, SEND Service and Strategy Manager


Nina Sleigh thanked the Committee for the invitation to attend this meeting.  She introduced the report which provided an update on support and provision for children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEWND) aged 0-25 in the local area.  She pointed out that whilst the Local Authority had a key and curial role in the development of the local area SEND system, the local area included the Clinical Commissioning Group, Public Health, NHS England for specialist Services, Early Years settings, schools and further education providers.  Partnership working including with children, young people and parents/carers was, therefore, crucial.


The report then summarised the outcome in relation to the recent local area SEND inspection in September 2021 which resulted in the requirement to produce and submit a written statement of action.  The report also informed the Committee of the Council’s improvements so far and those still to be undertaken.  It was pointed out that arrangements were now in place to bring about those improvements and to drive them forward.


An appendix to the report provided the main findings, strengths and areas for development as identified by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission during the inspection.


In the ensuing discussion and in response to detailed questioning and challenge the following matters were highlighted:


·         The reasons for the apparent discrepancy in the number of pupils registered with an EHCP were outlined.  This was largely because some pupils were in colleges or were in out of district provision.  It was accepted that this information should be clearly outlined within any future reports

·         And explanation was provided of the reasons for the apparent high number of EHCPs in some schools, this was largely because of the particular needs of the children concerned and also because of the importance of keeping children within their original setting wherever possible.  It was also pointed out that some schools, Hoyland Springwood for example, had specialist provision which would lead to a higher proportion of children with an EHCP. 

·         The numbers of SEND pupils and those with EHCP by gender was largely a reflection of the national statistical breakdown.  It was acknowledged, however, that early identification of specific needs was key so that appropriate and targeted support could be provided

·         Work was progressing in relation to the development of the local offer and website and also to raise awareness of this both with families and across services.  Information was provided about the consultations that had taken place and the work that had been ongoing for a number of months.  Information was also provided about the associated IT systems behind it.  Following the first three months, feedback was to be collected which would feed into the second phase of development of the offer.  It was suggested that the involvement of the Area Teams would be invaluable in spreading information about the services available

·         Amber Burton commented specifically on the importance of ensuring that needs were met appropriately be that by the provision of an EHCP of by other SEND support.  Arising out of this, reference was made to the way in which needs could be reviewed either by annual review or early review processes.  It was stressed that the majority of children were in the correct setting to have their needs met which was usually within a mainstream school.  If issues were raised or highlighted it was important to look at early intervention to ensure that all needs were addressed

·         There was a discussion about exclusions of pupils with SEND.  It was important to try to ensure that the number of exclusions was reduced.  There was a need to recognise where things were not working or relationships were breaking down so that interventions could be put in place and exclusions avoided.  Work was ongoing with the School Alliance on this.  Lee McClure gave his perspective of this work being undertaken and on the importance that behaviour and other policies within schools were appropriate.  It was important to ensure that differing strategies and arrangements were in place to address an individual child’s needs.  It was equally important to learn from other practitioners so that good practice could be shared and differentiated arrangements put in place

·         Arising out of the above, there was a detailed discussion about exclusions and particularly their use when the root cause may be an unmet demand.  Reference was made to the way in which the use of exclusion could be reduced and of the ways in which issues of concern could be escalated either via the Councils internal mechanisms, through Governing Bodies, Trust Boards, the Regional Schools Commissioner or via Ofsted.  If such issues arose in Barnsley dialogue on SEND issues would continue in parallel to any escalation processes

·         It was important that schools continued to develop inclusive provision and the Local Authority was keen to enable and promote this approach through workforce development and training, through investment in SENDCO’s and CPD.  Ensuring that schools were in the best possible position to be able to seek support and build skills was crucial as this would ensure that staff were more confident and that practice was good across all areas

·         There was a discussion of Governance arrangements and membership of Academies and Academy Trusts.  Particularly reference was made to the reduction in the number of Councillors elected on to such Governing Bodies.  Information on this could be provided. 

·         It was acknowledged that the educational landscape was continually changing.  The Authority currently worked with 15 Trusts and reference was made to the work of the Barnsley Schools Alliance which provided a mechanism for support and challenge.  It was important to realise that all Academies within the Borough participated in the Alliance where there was a shared desire and vision to ensure that Barnsley pupils achieved their potential

·         The peer challenge and support approach could not be underestimated, and in this respect, reference was made to the work of the various Alliance Subgroups which were tasked with examining targeted topics. 

·         Arising out of the above discussion, reference was made to the wider work of the Alliance and to the work of the Council’s School Evaluation officers in developing strategies and assisting schools in being more critical and challenging of their policies and practices

·         Amber Burton stated that the Authority had a clear understanding of the performance of all schools.  It was aware that there were a high number of pupils with EHCP’s and where there were issues with attendance and absence.  These issues were monitored all the time and this allowed individual schools to be targeted for extra support where it was felt there were issues or challenges.  Schools were also willing to work with the Authority to address such issues in a collaborative partnership to make positive changes

·         There was a discussion of some school policies, and particularly those in relation to behaviour, being discriminatory against some pupils.  This was particularly unhelpful for some SEND pupils and it was agreed that such practices should be discouraged.  In this respect it was important to recognise that there was some really good work being undertaken within schools which should be disseminated throughout the borough as examples of good practice with, at the same time, poor practice being identified and addressed

·         Reference was made to the need for schools to be encouraged to facilitate after school (and school holiday) activities and clubs and for such facilities to be made available for wider community use (particularly the secondary phase facilities).  It was suggested that such facilities could be developed into community hubs and centres and that pupils with SEND should be encouraged to participate as appropriate.  Various suggestions were made as to possible future activities/uses including the use of IT, careers advice events and local businesses giving advice to pupils on how to apply for jobs.  Amber Burton stated that such issues had been picked up as part of the inspection and the local area partnership was currently undertaking a piece of work to try to address this. 

·         In response to specific questioning, Amber Burton stated that there was currently no backlog in the EHCP Annual Review Programme.  This was largely because of the Council investment into the EHCP Team and better day to day management of the processes

·         Information was provided about the support provided for SENDCO’s and the comprehensive CDP offer that was available.  This was available either virtually or in school and had continued throughout the Covid pandemic.  It was available for everyone in school and to health and social care colleagues as well




(i)            That witnesses be thanked for their attendance and contribution; and


(ii)          That the report be noted.


Supporting documents: